Is there anything better than a virtual home tour? Designer Dream Homes is a series featuring the living spaces of our favorite interior designers and home decor influencers, where they give us the full lowdown on how they live. It’s all the things we love about browsing virtual real estate listings, with the added benefit of hearing exactly what it is that makes these dream homes so special.
Emma Sims-Hillditch of Sims Hillditch
Emma and her family are based full-time in Wiltshire, where she runs her eponymous interior design firm, Sims Hilditch, widely known and beloved for its country-chic aesthetic. As her business grew, Emma found herself spending more time in London.
“We explored opportunities to design a showroom. However, much of what a client loves about coming to our headquarters is the sense of homeliness. We felt we needed a base in London so the idea to design a 'Sims Hilditch Home' was born.”
The 2700 square feet home in Parsons Green “was a very typical Victorian terraced house in London, and it just wasn’t quite right for our needs," said Emma. "We stripped it back and reconfigured the layout in keeping with our own vision for the home. We knocked walls through to create larger rooms and make space for ensuite bathrooms. We also decided to raise the ceilings to make the most of the space available in each room."
"However, all this work by no means diminished the character of this London townhouse. We used the narrower Victorian hallways and proportions to create an interesting contrast between the spaciousness of the reconfigured kitchen and bedrooms.”
“It is a lovely Victorian terraced property,” said Emma. “The aim for the design of this home was to create an interior that is in keeping with the London city aesthetic, while still embodying all the charm of our primary home in Wiltshire. We often describe our style as New English country with a gentle contemporary twist, and this is exactly what we aimed to achieve with this home.”
Emma opted for a mix of patterns and colors, featuring floral wallpaper designed by Christopher Farr in the master bedroom, a teal upholstered sofa in the sitting room, and a deep red shade for the media room. “I am always partial to refreshing the color scheme and soft furnishings with the change of season!” said Emma.
Yard and Garden
The house features a garden terrace and patio, and Emma worked with a garden designer to transform the intimate space.
“We laid stone tiles and paired these with a range of garden furniture in natural materials, including wicker, rattan, and wood,” she explained. This was all in keeping with her plans to create a country escape in an urban landscape. “The use of natural materials in a city garden is a great way to incorporate country style into the design, helping to forge a connection with nature.”
When it came to picking their plantlife, Emma said, “we recommend having some sort of foliage, trailing or creeping plant in your garden; these look lovely growing up a fence or trellis and inject welcome notes of beauty and life into your design.”
“My favorite bathroom has to be my en-suite," said Emma. "Crittall doors separate the bathroom space from the bedroom, adding a contemporary touch to the design while maximizing the space, light, and flow."
"I also love the double basin of the vanity and the bathroom cabinets, which double up as mirrors. These touches are so simple, yet they make such a big difference to the practicality of a room, and the overall aesthetic."
Set off the terrace, the home’s kitchen features Crittall doors, “bringing the outside in,” said Emma. “I always say that the garden should be an extension of the home.”
The kitchen also includes a much-loved AGA: a cast-iron cooker that stays on 24/7 and uses gentle radiant heat. “Not only is [an AGA] a staple of country living, but I have had great fun learning how to use it over the years, most recently to create some delicious plant-based recipes.”
What's an AGA?
An AGA is a cast-iron cooker, popular in the UK, that stays on 24/7. It uses gentle radiant heat that serves a multitude of purposes: to cook food, keep kitchens warm, and sometimes, as an alternative to a tumble drier or warm iron.
“Another feature installed in the kitchen, and throughout the house, is irregularly cut wooden paneling. This adds a certain character and charm of the country, offsetting the contemporary aesthetic of the Crittall,” said Emma.
The home features a combination of limestone flooring by Artisans of Devizes and natural timber flooring in the bedrooms.
“I am very inspired by nature and make a point of including natural materials where possible in our designs, so naturally my own home reflects these values,” said Emma. “We have similar flooring in our Wiltshire home, so this is a nice reminder of our country roots!”
“Victorian terraced houses can be quite dimly lit, so it was important to us to factor letting in as much natural light as possible into the design.”
Now, the kitchen boasts the best view in the house. “Sitting in the kitchen looking out into the garden is the most lovely view. Inviting nature and natural light into an interior is a real joy, and one that I am most pleased to have achieved in our city home.”
“We excavated the basement to create our media room. This space is perfect for watching television as it is naturally darker than the rest of the house, and is far removed from the bedrooms so is less likely to cause any noise disturbance," said Emma.
"We painted it in Neptune’s Paprika to add a playful and contemporary twist to the design, and incorporated a luxurious L-shaped sofa to create a comfortable and inviting space. We installed a projector and a screen, which acts like a roller blind, rolling down in front of the Crittall doors when in use, and stored safely out of sight again when no longer needed.”
Emma cited a Swedish Mora clock, located in the kitchen. “We [at Sims Hilditch] love to pair unusual or antique pieces of furniture with the more contemporary.”
Extra Special Details
“Storage is key to an organized home,” said Emma. “We took the opportunity to install bespoke cabinetry throughout the house including in the bedrooms, sitting areas, and kitchen."
"Also, lighting plays a key part in our schemes to create atmosphere. We used a mix of layered lighting throughout the home on simple dimmers which can be interchangeable depending on the time of day or mood.”