Phoebe Oldrey and her husband Miles knew that they wanted to move out of London, but were adamant that, unlike many Londoners, they didn’t want to ‘escape to the country’. They wanted to live in a nice rural town, somewhere safe, with more growing space for their two young boys. They’d started looking around St Albans, but happened to come down for a short break in Pembury one weekend. “By the time we hit the Pantiles we’d decided that Tunbridge Wells was the place to be,” says Phoebe. “We had our house on the market by the following Monday.”

Throughout the house, Phoebe has cleverly mixed some very exclusive and eclectic pieces with bargains picked up from lots of sources – from the high street at places like HomeSense, online at Made.com and also her eagle-eyed eBay finds

Throughout the house, Phoebe has cleverly mixed some very exclusive and eclectic pieces with bargains picked up from lots of sources – from the high street at places like HomeSense, online at Made.com and also her eagle-eyed eBay finds

The starting point for the design of Phoebe’s sitting room was the painting by artist Emma Green which is now mounted above the fireplace

The starting point for the design of Phoebe’s sitting room was the painting by artist Emma Green which is now mounted above the fireplace

“There is usually a starting point. It can be a painting, like in my sitting room,” she says, indicating a striking piece by Emma Green above the fireplace

“There is usually a starting point. It can be a painting, like in my sitting room,” she says, indicating a striking piece by Emma Green above the fireplace

The open plan kitchen and dining room is painted a rich, deep blue

The open plan kitchen and dining room is painted a rich, deep blue

Phoebe commissioned Lorna Syson to create the huge lampshades in the hall. They make a bold and playful statement – as you walk near them, you catch a glimpse of some painted blue tits perching on the inside of the shades

Phoebe commissioned Lorna Syson to create the huge lampshades in the hall. They make a bold and playful statement – as you walk near them, you catch a glimpse of some painted blue tits perching on the inside of the shades

The downstairs loo features a wall scuplture that Phoebe found at HomeSense

The downstairs loo features a wall scuplture that Phoebe found at HomeSense

Lighting is very important and some of the lamps in Phoebe’s house have a sculptural quality of their own

Lighting is very important and some of the lamps in Phoebe’s house have a sculptural quality of their own

Phoebe has created a clever juxtaposition of textures, designs and patterns from inlaid chairs and an oriental cupboard to a sequinned Jean Paul Gaultier cushion

Phoebe has created a clever juxtaposition of textures, designs and patterns from inlaid chairs and an oriental cupboard to a sequinned Jean Paul Gaultier cushion

The tactile rug and wonderful ‘sea urchin’ floor cushions contrast with a glass coffee table in front of the fire

The tactile rug and wonderful ‘sea urchin’ floor cushions contrast with a glass coffee table in front of the fire

The master bedroom and en suite is a cool and tranquil space. Phoebe found the chairs in the master bedroom on Free-cycle. The wall sculpture above the bed is by Anya Beaumont

The master bedroom and en suite is a cool and tranquil space. Phoebe found the chairs in the master bedroom on Free-cycle. The wall sculpture above the bed is by Anya Beaumont

The immaculate guest room and its en suite have been created using products found on the high street – the wallpaper is ‘Hawthorn’ by Laura Ashley. At the end of the bed is an exquisite painted leather chest that belonged to Phoebe’s grandmother

The immaculate guest room and its en suite have been created using products found on the high street – the wallpaper is ‘Hawthorn’ by Laura Ashley. At the end of the bed is an exquisite painted leather chest that belonged to Phoebe’s grandmother

Phoebe is keen to stress that the boys should be allowed to be boys and that their bedrooms shouldn’t be turned into designer spaces

Phoebe is keen to stress that the boys should be allowed to be boys and that their bedrooms shouldn’t be turned into designer spaces

The giant light above the spacious landing casts the shadows of a hundred spiders on the walls and stairs

The giant light above the spacious landing casts the shadows of a hundred spiders on the walls and stairs

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

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