When it comes to designing a family home, there are occasions when style and practicality collide head-on, and allowances are made to favour function over appearance.
But in the case of Laura Higham, her family home for five is functional, relaxed and, above all, brimming with personal style. Based in Crowborough, East Sussex, on the doorstep of Ashdown forest, Laura and her husband David, their two children, aged 7 and 10, and their cat, Poppy, have lived here for four years.
“I will be the first to admit this isn’t my dream style of home,” says Laura, who was attracted to its 145ft garden and its close proximity to their friends and family. “But it fitted the brief and the budget. We are working on slowly adding character and features, so we can turn it into something with a little more personality.”
Since moving in, the couple have worked on DIY-ing their dream home into existence, where the only room left to professional renovators was their bathroom. “We’ve given the kitchen an overhaul and worked with the existing units to give them all a facelift,” explains Laura. “We changed the worktops, re-tiled the space and changed the flooring from a laminate to a real wood herringbone floor, which is one of my favourite additions.”
In the living room, the installation of a log burner has created a comforting centrepiece, where moss-coloured wood panels line the back wall — “a fairly simple and inexpensive way of adding some real character,” she says — and the soft textures of a shag pile rug, sheepskin throw and tasselled blankets offer a chance to recline in comfort. The invitation is for total respite, which to Laura, is key. “I need my surroundings to have a calming effect as somewhere I can easily relax. I’ve realised over the years that I can achieve this by using a neutral palette.”
The soothing interior scheme complements Laura’s personal style. “My home decor is subtle and quiet, which I think probably describes me pretty well. It doesn’t scream out for attention, but that doesn’t mean it has any less of an impact.” Their space has a down-to-earth charm flowing from room to room, where natural materials and rustic touches mingle with an understated Scandinavian influence, felt in the earthy tones of bleached stone, sand and charcoal.
Each room is decorated with vintage finds and ceramics, of all shapes and sizes, artfully arranged beside plant pots and ornate candle holders. “My favourite is the rustic dough bowl, which sits in our living room and my vintage confit pots and jars which I’m slowly collecting,” Laura says. “One of my favourite places to source items from is The Hidden Hut’ at Kingdom Pen in Penshurst, Kent.”
Laura, who works part-time at a retail design company, has an eye for design that’s developed since she was a teenager. “When I was younger I would constantly move my bedroom around and redecorate to make it feel like mine,” she says.
But it wasn’t until Instagram took hold that her appreciation for interiors was kicked into high gear. Three years on from when her account started, Laura’s following has grown to over 112k followers. “I realised just how important interior design was to me and how there was a real community of people out there who felt the same,” she says. “This community of like- minded people, and all the inspiration that’s shared, has really influenced my style and made me realise who I am when it comes to my home.”
Follow Laura at @the_indigo_house