Grand Designs: Aylesbury Vale’s Farmhouse Chic

Restoration takes many different forms and there is no one size fits all for their interior styling. This is one of the largest draws for Grand Designs and why it has successfully run for so many years; every project is different. This series of blogs will follow the projects week by week and give you the lowdown on how to recreate each participant’s finishing look.


The first episode of Grand Designs follows Mimi and Italian architect husband Jimmy’s restoration of a small castle in Aylesbury Vale. They set out to restore the almost fallen down estate to its former glory in six months and on a £200k budget. Of course, as Kevin McLeod predicted, they did not achieve this and ended up spending £300k and taking 18 months to complete the project. The final product of their blood, sweat and tears was worth it in the end. They stayed true to the castle’s original layout and managed to make a cosy home despite having to stay within the property’s initial footprint.

Interior Style

The approaches for the interior design of restoration projects can be very roughly broken down into two camps: those who remodel based on the property’s history and those who go for a more modern take. Mimi and Jimmy’s approach to decorating and furnishing fell firmly in the second camp, with their selections bringing a relaxed yet tasteful feel that took the edge off the castle’s more austere feel.

The couple’s choice of furnishings is most accurately described as farmhouse chic embodying comfort and simplicity. This has been largely dictated by Jimmy’s choice not to plaster the castle’s walls, instead letting the original and updated stonework become a feature in itself. Whilst the rich colours and patterns rule out loud textures in the rest of the property, warm colours work well to break up the potential monotony of the 50 shades of beige brick.

Getting the Farmhouse Chic Look

If like Mimi and Jimmy you have gone for a raw look with exposed features, farmhouse style furniture will look gorgeous. We love chunky country-style wardrobes, chests of drawers and side tables painted a solid colour with wooden tops giving a sophisticated yet rustic feel. Add a rich yellow fabric sofa and muted grey blue rugs for pops of warmth and colour that don’t overwhelm. Finish the look with accessories that tie the look together such as tall white lamps and soft coloured vases.

For those who have a plainer canvas to work with, you can be more adventurous with your interior design. Patterns are an option again and wooden items can feature more frequently than against a brown background. Achieve the farmhouse feel with a reclaimed wood coffee table that lends rich depth to white or pale coloured walls. You can also include leather items that give your space a laidback luxury look.

Round Up

When decorating a building regardless of the history, it is essential to keep in mind the property’s idiosyncrasies. Patterns and textures that look beautiful on plain backgrounds will make raw or industrial environments feel too busy. Block colour walls on the other hand need repeating motifs and more varied textiles to add depth and character. Stay tuned for our response to the next Grand Designs!

If you love getting the look for less, check out our stylists’ tips to recreate the wood-bending style of British designer Tom Raffield.

Omnari loves

Rosie Vase Large In Silver With Pebble Pattern Mirror

Rosie Vase Large In Silver With Pebble Pattern Mirror

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