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Contemporary living in Character Homes with Pippa Paton

Contemporary living in Character Homes

Pippa Paton Design is a highly acclaimed interior design, architecture and project management studio based in the Cotswolds, with a reputation for transforming residential properties with absolute integrity for 21st century living
Contemporary living in Character Homes with Pippa Paton

"Pippa and Scott Paton personally oversee every project from inception through to ultimate perfection, with support from their talented team of professionals"

The studio is celebrating being shortlisted in this year’s prestigious international SBID Awards for their sensational bedroom and bathroom design, which was part of the major renovation of a listed Cotswold barn


Pippa Paton Design’s speciality is creating fabulous bespoke interior and exterior living spaces in the Cotswolds and London, with particular experience in the renovation of character and listed properties. The team frequently works with many local authorities including conservation offices at Cotswold, West Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse and Stratford-upon-Avon District Councils to ensure alterations are sympathetic and in accordance with policy. In this issue Pippa Paton and her studio team share their expert knowledge on restoring period buildings for modern-day living.

Contemporary living in Character Homes with Pippa Paton

Responsible renovation

Renovating period and listed properties is a highly specialised and delicate process, requiring relevant experience and meticulous attention to detail on every level. Before the advent of standardised mass-produced materials, buildings by default flourished as extensions of the surrounding area, built into the shape of the land and using materials locally sourced and felled. These features afforded every home a unique personality borne from the plans and the materials available. Given our island’s unique diverse landscape, each region boasts a different style of building, created with the materials indigenous to the area. Local government, private and charitable bodies protect many of these properties as a part of our heritage. In addition the way in which we live in our homes today has evolved significantly to become far removed from that of our ancestors. Thus to adapt any older property for contemporary function, whilst sympathetically protecting the original fabric, is both a responsibility and a skill. It takes a specialist with local knowledge to successfully deliver a renovation solution that both answers the homeowner’s brief and respects the building.

Spatial planning

Modern day lifestyles and the evolution of technology have transformed the way we live in our homes. To adapt any property from its original use to suit today’s requirements often necessitates a redesign of the structural layout of the property. For example the series of smaller rooms in period homes such as kitchen, pantry, parlour and dining room has become redundant today, with the movement to open plan living; and buildings originally used for non-residential purposes such as old barns, schools or commercial spaces will require a complete redesign. Spatial planning and design is the first consideration for Pippa Paton Design when renovating a period property. Pippa’s studio will discuss every detail of how clients live, gaining a personal insight into the day-to-day lives of the family. This information enables the design team create a bespoke solution that answers every requirement, and to allocate the correct ratio of space and location for each room. Where a passionate cook and regular host will need the kitchen and dining area to take precedence in the planning of space, a family with dogs and horses who spends much of their time outdoors will demand a well-considered utility area and boot room. The detail of spatial planning embraces everything from ensuring the main entrance to the property is in the optimum position, right down to the intricacies of where to install plug sockets to prevent unsightly trailing wires.

Function & aesthetic

Building in the past was often far more functional than aesthetic. The structural features of a period building were simply that, purely structural; yet today those same features have become aesthetics which give a property personality and individuality. Traditional timber ceiling beams and trusses are perhaps the most obvious proponent of this ethic. Originally intended to offer structural support and a shell for the home, beams were often implemented without pretence. Whilst this may not have been pleasing for the bourgeois of the time, the antiquated charm has come to represent a timeless elegance.

With all such structural features, from beams to brickwork, stone and tiles, the key is to enhance these details in a way that celebrates their heritage and charm. This often involves stripping back more recent additions such as removing faux ceilings, lifting replacement flooring, and opening up fireplaces. But it is understanding how much to reveal. Pippa explains, ‘We will often leave a section of an original stone wall revealed rather than the whole thing. This allows us to show off the historic integrity of the building, whilst not letting the wall to become an overbearing or impractical feature in the overall design scheme. Contemporary living in a period property is all about the balance between the required function fused with the period aesthetics.’ Pippa’s team’s experience working with all the local councils to gain listed building consent is invaluable here.

Furnishings fabrics & finishing touches

One of the graces of modern furnishings is the often minimalistic design they are afforded by advanced production methods. Pippa allows the existing structural contours and traditional fittings of a period home to be the focal point by introducing elegant fittings, accents of vibrant colours and layers of luxurious textural fabrics. Pippa’s studio frequently designs bespoke furnishings and interior accessories, and sources one-off antique pieces, for the ultimate personal touch and final flourish that completes a scheme. Recent examples include a sensational statement chandelier, which was crafted using a client’s own antique skittles – a fabulous way to include something very personal as a permanent focal point in the fabric of the home; and bespoke console tables with the bases in the form of the letter ‘A’ for the names of the homeowners.

Pippa and Scott Paton personally oversee every project from inception through to ultimate perfection, with support from their talented team of professionals. This year marks the celebration of the company’s 10th anniversary. During this time completed projects have included everything from an historic Thames riverboat to an entire Cotswold village estate; state-of-the-art pool complexes to bespoke kitchen designs; the renovation of listed manor houses to a quintessential Cotswold cottage; and a large family home in West London to a contemporary apartment in London’s Neo Bankside.


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