It is said that to be creative one must have an inner life, a kind of storehouse of impressions, ideas and feelings to draw upon and reinterpret. That notion certainly seems appropriate to Laura Oakes an artist and designer who is based in Rye and who seems happily and very productively immersed in the world of her own imagination and creation. 

The bed in the guest room was handmade and decorated with gold leaf by Laura’s friend Ralph Levy. On the tables either side of it, little lamps have shades with Laura’s signature collaged pattern

The bed in the guest room was handmade and decorated with gold leaf by Laura’s friend Ralph Levy. On the tables either side of it, little lamps have shades with Laura’s signature collaged pattern

Laura used fabric that she bought at an auction to create an artwork in the guest bedroom called “What Shall I Wear Today?”

Laura used fabric that she bought at an auction to create an artwork in the guest bedroom called “What Shall I Wear Today?”

In the guest room a Victorian lace bodice hangs alongside a shell pink 1920s gown and a tailor’s mannequin wears a frilly skirt

In the guest room a Victorian lace bodice hangs alongside a shell pink 1920s gown

A birdcage on the top of the wardrobe is adorned with feathered and painted papier mâché birds

A birdcage on the top of the wardrobe is adorned with feathered and painted papier mâché birds

“ I buy a lot of things from Hayley at ‘Little Treasures’ in Hastings Old Town,” says Laura, “she finds some amazing things and I love to go there and try all sorts of things on.”

“I buy a lot of things from Hayley at ‘Little Treasures’ in Hastings Old Town,” says Laura, “she finds some amazing things and I love to go there and try all sorts of things on.”

the guest room, but with so many vintage clothes and accessories on display is really more of a ‘boudoir’

The guest room, with so many vintage clothes and accessories on display is really more of a ‘boudoir’

A tailor’s mannequin wears a frilly skirt

A tailor’s mannequin wears a frilly skirt

The furniture in the sitting room largely belongs to Jamie and Laura. A rococo style sofa is upholstered in claret coloured velvet and dressed with a patchwork quilt and crocheted, appliquéd and printed cushions

The furniture in the sitting room largely belongs to Jamie and Laura. A rococo style sofa is upholstered in claret coloured velvet and dressed with a patchwork quilt and crocheted, appliquéd and printed cushions

Pixie is possibly the most aptly named dog I’ve ever encountered

Pixie is possibly the most aptly named dog I’ve ever encountered

Laura’s ‘Spring Blossom Tree’ is lavishly decorated with a vivid mix of brightly coloured fabric and plastic flowers, strings of costume jewellery and ribbon

Laura’s ‘Spring Blossom Tree’ is lavishly decorated with a vivid mix of brightly coloured fabric and plastic flowers, strings of costume jewellery and ribbon

Bunting, that Laura has made from strips of vintage fabric and assorted travel scarves, hangs across the sitting room window

Bunting, that Laura has made from strips of vintage fabric and assorted travel scarves, hangs across the sitting room window

A huge mirror, propped up against a wall, magnifying the effect of the whole room

A huge mirror, propped up against a wall, magnifying the effect of the whole room

The long dining table is covered with a blue runner and between scented candles, a large white china pot stands in the centre, filled with an arrangement of blue and white flowers from Café des Fleurs in Rye. On the wall behind, a large Indian carved fretwork screen supports a collection of hats and favourite postcards have been pegged to a line of string across it...

The long dining table is covered with a blue runner and between scented candles, a large white china pot stands in the centre, filled with an arrangement of blue and white flowers from Café des Fleurs in Rye. On the wall behind, a large Indian carved fretwork screen supports a collection of hats and favourite postcards have been pegged to a line of string across it...

I don’t like sets of things. In fact I don’t even wear matching earrings. The thought of it makes me feel a bit sick!”

"I don’t like sets of things. In fact I don’t even wear matching earrings. The thought of it makes me feel a bit sick!”

On the opposite wall, the mantelpiece above an old miniature range supports brightly painted kitsch statuettes of Jesus and Mary as well as a collection of handblown bottles and jars and a garland of fuschia and lime green silk flowers

The mantelpiece above an old miniature range supports brightly painted kitsch statuettes of Jesus and Mary as well as a collection of handblown bottles and jars and a garland of fuschia and lime green silk flowers

The walls in the kitchen display both Laura’s designs and several framed pictures of cottages and houses, painted and embroidered. A Lilliputian 1940s enamel miniature cooker, complete with tiny baking sheets and kettle, is tucked into one corner

The walls in the kitchen display both Laura’s designs and several framed pictures of cottages and houses, painted and embroidered

A Lilliputian 1940s enamel miniature cooker, complete with tiny baking sheets and kettle, is tucked into one corner

A Lilliputian 1940s enamel miniature cooker, complete with tiny baking sheets and kettle, is tucked into one corner

The pale and airy studio is situated in the garden. Laura’s vibrant ‘She’s Happy’ cushion perches on top of a chair from Hunter Jones in Rye.

The pale and airy studio is situated in the garden. Laura’s vibrant ‘She’s Happy’ cushion perches on top of a chair from Hunter Jones in Rye.

A workbench with a Perspex top features Laura’s Britain’s Best design on its surface, and handmade lamps, also available from Hunter Jones, stand proudly in one corner

A workbench with a Perspex top features Laura’s Britain’s Best design on its surface, and handmade lamps, also available from Hunter Jones, stand proudly in one corner

A corner of the studio

A corner of the studio

"Having white walls and the pale limed floor means it’s a really good plain backdrop for me to photograph things and it’s a great space to plan and think.”

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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