Brimming with pattern, colour and panache, Charlotte Guercio’s Kentish oast house is an interior to remember
Charlotte Guercio loves colour, she loves print and she most definitely loves interior design, which is lucky for the large Kentish oast house that she now calls home. When she bought the property it was, in her own words, a sea of faded green carpet, old yellow walls and orange pine. Several years later and the three-floor house has been entirely renovated. The result? A family home packed with delightful wit, high voltage colour and a huge dose of glamorous fun. “The house,” says Charlotte, “is me inside a home.”
With three daughters under the age of 5, the renovation has been a labour of love for the designer, who wanted to both create a wonderful home for her young family but also provide a stunning showcase for her new consultancy, Charlotte Francesca Interiors. “I was an interior designer for LJI in London for several years,” says Charlotte, “but once I moved to Kent and had three children I had different priorities. Now the girls are a bit older I feel the time has come to set up on my own. My house offered me a blank canvas to work with and it’s been such a joy to develop my craft with no boundaries!” Indeed whilst most people were still trying to sort out the background settings on their zoom during lockdown, Charlotte had already cut her teeth on her first two major interiors projects: a chateau in Bordeaux and an apartment and country house in the US, all done via zoom and sourced online.
Back in Kent and Charlotte’s home is a love story to maximalism. Wallpapers, upholstery, furniture, artwork and accessories all tell a part of Charlotte’s personal journey from single bohemian student to London interior designer to cool country mum. “I have always adored interior design,” says Charlotte. “Even at university I was going to boot fairs and finding crazy things like Victorian bed pans. I’ve had the vintage tennis rackets that now decorate the inner hallway since I was twenty.” Every wall and every floor has been lovingly thought through with attention to detail throughout. From the colourful Moroccan rugs that Charlotte sourced on her travels to Marrakesh to the hand-painted Mexican tiles and sinks, to the Indian door and wall hangings. Everything has been chosen for a reason.
“You won’t notice it at first,” says Charlotte with a smile, “but the wallpaper design is actually a repeat of dinosaurs. I love watching people’s reactions when they suddenly realise what it is!”
The oast house is built around a central circular hop kiln, complete with original temperature gauge, which now houses the dining room. A series of rooms fan outwards, almost like a cart wheel. This results in a space that almost undulates with different shaped rooms that lead from one another, ceilings that blend and shift from expansive and airy double height to small and cosy. Entering the house via Charlotte’s bright orange front door, a glass atrium hallway immediately bathes the house in sunlight. It is this sense of airiness that leads you through the house’s brick walled hallway into the spacious living room, its windows and doors reaching upwards into the high vaulted ceiling above. Dark wooden beams sit proudly against the white paintwork overhead, creating a feature of the room’s soaring and spacious height. The red brickwork of the entrance gives way to a palette of soft pink in the living room, which Charlotte has used in conjunction with a House of Hackney wallpaper. “You won’t notice it at first,” says Charlotte with a smile, “but the wallpaper design is actually a repeat of dinosaurs. I love watching people’s reactions when they suddenly realise what it is!”
A sumptuous dark wood floor is punctuated with a deep pile Moroccan Beni Ourain rug in pink, red, black and white that mirrors both the graphic and structural elements of the space. A sculptural pink velvet sofa, one of Charlotte’s amazing eBay finds, sits next to two gold velvet fringed armchairs, further eBay finds. An Art Deco inspired waterlily gilded floor light, picked up from Charlotte’s local Homesense, sits perfectly within a room that is an ode to Charlotte’s love of the quirky, the unusual and the unexpected.
Animal print is a must for Charlotte. Whether it’s in upholstery, on cushions, on rugs or dotted around on accessories. “I absolutely love using animal print and I think a dash of it alongside other prints and patterns really makes a room spring to life.” Luckily for Charlotte some of the coolest brands in interiors agree with her and House of Hackney and Emma J Shipley for Clarke & Clarke are two of Charlotte’s go-to companies for sourcing fabrics, wallpaper and cushions, seen in both the living room and the snug, and in the faux animal rugs dotted on floors and walls.
At the heart of the house is the round brick walled hop kiln. For most people an entirely circular double height room, with two small doors and a suspended upstairs landing (with associated structural beams) would have caused some design issues. Charlotte however has embraced the space, creating a sumptuous and grown up dining room decorated in an all-over Clarke & Clarke tropical wallpaper with a bespoke circular marble-topped dining table, a gold starburst chandelier and plenty of planting. Instead of trying to hide the underside of the landing above, Charlotte has painted it blue, which is mirrored in the luscious velvet scalloped armchairs from Anthropologie. Art Deco Miami meets 1970s glamour.
Framing the two doorways of the dining room are more mementos of Charlotte’s travels. Hand embroidered vintage door hangings were traditionally used by the farmers of India to welcome their guests, a sentiment that Charlotte was keen to translate from rural Rajasthan to rural Kent. Similar memories are dotted all over the house from the marble elephant from the Taj Mahal and faux zebra bum and elephant foot tables that take pride of place in the snug, to the Indian rocking horse on the landing to the hand-painted Mexican tiles that provide the splash back in the kitchen.
Charlotte’s pink kitchen is a thing of beauty, an ode to everything gorgeous, girlie and fun. The cabinets are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Nancy’s Blushes and feature rather fabulous scalloped gold handles. Charlotte spent months tracking down the floor tiles that she spotted on Instagram, finally sourcing them in Morocco, where they were hand-stencilled and shipped back to the UK. The table furnishings were hand-blocked in India and Charlotte had a local artist replicate the original Mexican Madonna tiles, adding the roses to create a larger splashback for the AGA. The candy-stripe walls of the dining area were one of Charlotte’s lockdown DIY projects and the raffia lights were another of Charlotte’s Instagram detection triumphs. “It took me ages but I finally found them via a maker on Etsy. They’re so mad looking, I love them!”
It’s this same sense of playfulness and fun that can also be found in the downstairs loo, with its Gucci tiger print wallpaper, chrome Burlington lavatory cistern and mahogany detailing as well as the children’s playroom. Charlotte explains, “I love a wallpaper by Pierre Frey called Arty, but really couldn’t justify the expense for a playroom, which will get a lot of heavy use, so I thought I would make it myself.” Just like the paintings she lovingly created for the bedroom doors upstairs, Charlotte’s own artwork adds the ultimate in personal touches.
Luckily Charlotte did have the budget for Pierre Frey when it came to her own bedhead which, in true Kit Kemp style, is monumental and sculptural in its magnificence. Featuring the classic Frey design, Lasso, Charlotte took the blue and white colour palette from the bed across to the curtains, which are in a Matthew Williamson toile and then onto the stools (which were picked up at Lots Road Auctions) upholstered in a fabric by Thibaut.
Leaving the best to last, it has to be Charlotte’s en suite bathroom where she has truly let her imagination run riot. With a scalloped entrance that leads down several steps to a mother of pearl mosaic floor, hand-painted Mexican sinks, blue onyx surfaced vanity and a mirror work mosaic that runs in a band of disco fabulousness from the double shower up to the ceiling and then around the sink area, that would make a Maharaja blush. The gold bath (another eBay find!) and gold seahorse side tables ensure that this really is the ultimate bathroom of dreams.
Ask any fashion editor the best way to style and they would always say mix high end and high street for a look that really shows your personality and individual taste. The same can be said of interiors. It would be very easy to walk into Chelsea Design Centre and ‘buy the look’ but where’s the fun in that? Just like a fashion stylist, Charlotte has blended high end furnishing houses from the UK and France with incredible finds from eBay, Etsy and Homesense, vintage boot fairs and her foreign travels, to create a family home that is completely unique, lots of fun and packed with personality.
- words: Antonia Methuen
- pictures: David Merewether
- styling: Charlotte Guercio & Holly Levett
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