I missed writing about Scotland and didn’t want to leave the United Kingdom so soon, so I thought this would be a good time to visit Penny Morrison, the Wales based interior and fabric designer whose fabulous country home was recently seen in Elle Décor.It seems Morrison is everywhere these days. Besides her own house being featured, two other homes she designed were recently photographed, and both are showcases of her delightful aesthetic and her beautiful fabrics. Additionally, a few years ago, Morrison teamed up with Carolina Irving in a textile and furniture endeavor that is a wonderful companion to Morrison’s own textiles.You know Carolina Irving – her apartment was the darling of every blogger circa 2008. It still remains one of my all time favorite NYC homes.Here is a collection of Irving & Morrison merchandise. So English – this look is often found in upper crust English country homes. For more information – go HERE.Here are some of Penny Morrison’s textiles, go HERE for information on where to find them.When Penny’s house was featured a few months ago in Elle Décor I couldn’t get it out of my mind especially when another photoshoot of her work turned up in the April House and Garden UK magazine. A google search revealed even more magazine pictorials. Her distinctive interiors are easy to spot, they are warm and cozy, and bright and youthful. It’s a nice mix of yesterday and today and a great look if you are wanting to bring color into your rooms.First, let’s examine her interiors and then I’ll show you how easy it would be to get this look on a budget!Penny and her husband, art dealer Guy Morrison, bought their country house in Wales over 25 years ago. Penny, originally from South Africa, moved to England after a divorce. She was looking for a Scottish house with rooms that would open 0nto the gardens when she and her husband stumbled upon this estate in nearby Wales. She fell in love at first sight, especially thrilled that the house, on the border of England, was much closer than Scotland.The Morrisons planted all the box when they first moved in.Penny and Guy Morrison in their garden.Built in 1790, the house was previously owned by just two families. It was in dire need of repair: the current owner had cut holes in the wood floors so that rain would leak down into the cellar. Undaunted and blinded by love, the Morrisons completely restored the house, bringing it up to date. Several bedrooms became bathrooms. The biggest change was the stair hall’s ceiling which was raised five feet with a conservatory style skylight. Redecorations through the years came with new fabrics in Morrison’s line.Besides the recent Elle Décor pictorial, the house has been photographed several times before and it’s interesting to see how the rooms have evolved through the years.The Entry HallThe front door opens to a hall that runs through to the back of the house. At the left is the library and shown here is an antique blue armoire that holds a collection of wicker hats. At the front door are curtains from Morrison’s collection.The armoire, with the library door now closed.Past the entry hall is the stair hall. This is where the ceiling was raised five feet to brighten the hall. The colorful stairhall is painted blue with pink lampshades mixed with a kilim rug. Past the arches is the back door.Looking at the other direction. Their house is filled with art work from the 18th – 20th centuries. A large contemporary painting faces this console as you will see:And from the newest photoshoot – a look at the upstairs landing. Love the patterned carpet! Here you can see the large contemporary piece of art work in the stair hall.But let’s talk about the collection of the 18th century classic art mixed with the blue and white and horns? I love the shapes – round, oval, and octagonal!
Past the stair hall is the back door – the only picture from Elle Décor is on the cover. Entering this door, a guest gets an immediate feel for the aesthetic of the owner - English country manor style, cluttered, colorful, warm and inviting.
The curtains at both the front and back doors are made from her own textile line: Vilas HERE.
Here, in an earlier pictorial in World of Interiors from 1996, there were other curtains in front of both the foyer and the back door. This is so Country English – the curtains. I wonder why they do that? I LOVE the look, but I wouldn’t do it, all I can think is the fabric would get so dirty and dusty. Maybe that’s the purpose – to keep the dirt and dust out of the entry hall?
The Drawing Room:
The drawing room is fabulous !!! It’s so English country manor. The George Smith sofa is slipped in a Jean Monro chintz while the ottoman wears a Turkish textile. The curtains are a mix of two fabrics. Notice how the dusty pink stripe in the curtains exactly matches the wall color. The painting makes a huge statement as does all the blue and white. The lamp shades are from Irving & Morrison. Gorgeous.
The walls are Farrow and Ball Setting Plaster, a pink toned beige HERE.
Irving & Morrison sell a large selection of lamps and fabric shades HERE.
Closeup of this living room vignette. Love this painting and the tablescape.
1996: The other side of the drawing room in an earlier pictorial. The room has two sofas that face each other and flank the fireplace.
1996: Between the two sofas is a white painted table and across is a white demi lune.
Be sure to visit Guy Morrison’s web site – he is an art dealer specializing in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries HERE.
1996: Here you can see the rug and the fireplace, along with the ottoman. I like it with the Turkish textile so much better.
The table between the chairs with all white accessories.
1996: Originally the library was quiet with beige walls and beige fabrics. It looks like there were dark blue curtains at the windows. Not loving all the magazines stacked on the ottoman though.
More recent: New curtains and lighter fabrics make the library much livelier, even with the beige walls.
The other side of the library with the bookcases and slipcovered striped club chairs. Much better than the first design.
WOW!!!!!!!! The boring beige walls are now gone, replaced with the most beautiful blue green walls – Farrow and Ball’s Arsenic. The wall color makes such a HUGE difference! The library now pops with energy. White fabrics and a print on the ottoman. Irving & Morrison lampshades also liven it up. Be sure to check out the ottomans that they sell. They are wonderful. But the curtains really stand out now against the green walls. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!
Against the fireplace wall, a new chair from Irving & Morrison, along with a new fender fabric.
Farrow and Ball Arsenic – a strong green with a hint of blue HERE.
The curtains are Penny’s Arabella in red. HERE
The Dining Room:
The dining room has an antique Georgian table with white slipcovered chairs from Irving & Morrison. The white looks so fresh against the gold walls. And the gold cornices really stand out. The entire rooms pops with color, just as the rest of the rooms do. OK OK OK – the painting is way too high!!! Driving me insane!!! Even if the bust would block some of it – hang it at eye level or move the bust. Curtain fabric was not sourced but it is from Charles Hammond.
I do love the tablescape with the large urn and silver boxes.
The paint is not sourced but it looks like Farrow and Ball Churlish Green – HERE.
From 1996, the dining room hasn’t changed all that much. The main change is the walls look more gold, which just blends in too much with the fabric. And there is a gilt mirror and plates over the mantel which I must say I prefer. I just don’t care much for contemporary art.
Smaller Dining Room:
In an older pictorial, I found two pictures of a smaller dining room – green paneled with Bowood curtains and a Scalamandre Toile.
Another view – with another tablecloth – not sure why this wasn’t photographed by Elle Décor, it is quite lovely!
From another photoshoot, the English kitchen.
And a lovely typical English bathroom with curtains and carpet. There is a subtle wallpaper and a pretty fabric cornice. Really not sure why they chose to include this in Elle?
And from earlier photoshoots – there are two other bathrooms, this one with pretty blue walls.
And this one in a pretty yellow and white wallpaper. All veddy English country manor house.
From an earlier photoshoot, the guest room is classically English pink and white, chintz and quilts.
But today – it is quite a treat for the eye. Fabric or wallpaper on the walls – with the beautiful blue fabric on the canopy and headboard. Notice how the gathered canopy is now tailored – what a huge difference. Morrison kept the same quilt and even the same curtains, but the change is incredible. The room went from cute to sophisticated cozy.
The walls are hung with Morrison’s fabric Begum HERE.
And this fabric, in a different colorway on the table skirt. HERE.
Killi Blue HERE.
The ottoman and Tikka Bamboo fabric from Morrison HERE.
A view of the guest room – from Instagram. Love this.
Carolina Irving has the same Ikat in her NYC apartment.
From earlier photoshoots – this guest room is done in twin canopies using Morrison’s fabric Pasha HERE. Deep gold walls – mix with the light yellow Indian styled fabric. And notice the art work. Why didn’t Elle photograph THIS room?
On her web site, she shows the room with blue plaid blankets.
Morrison’s fabric Pasha HERE.
The back terrace set for lunch.
Looking at the terrace pergola from inside the house.
A view of the estate in the winter frost – from Instagram.
On the border between England and Wales. Balls line all the walks and drives. This terrace leads out from the side of the house, overlooking all the hills. Such a beautiful landscape.
I mean – is there a cuter chair anywhere?
Morrison’s Haveli fabric
Penny Morrison says that once she finished renovating her house, others saw it and asked her to help with designing their own homes and this is how her career as an interior designer was launched. Most of her clients were more well to do and several of her projects landed in magazines such as World of Interiors and House and Garden, England.
One client was the young socialite Jemma Kidd, the model from London whose great grandfather was Lord Beaverbrook who brought to the world the Daily Express. Her husband is Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Douro and heir to the Duke of Wellington, whose first Duke defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. His mother is Princess Antonia of Prussia, a direct descendant of Queen Victoria. Properly, Jemma is now The Marchioness of Douro. I think! Every time someone dies, their names and titles change.
Stratfield Saye House where Jemma’s father-in-law, The Duke of Wellington, lives. One day, this will be her home.
Jemma and her husband and three children were living in London when the family asked if they wanted to move into the extra house on the Stratfield Saye estate where her in-laws live. They eventually said yes and while leafing through magazines Jemma noticed a colorful house designed by Penny Morrison. She told her husband: this is who I want to design our house, this is how I want our house to look like.
The Loddon River lies beyond the houses on the estate.
The Old Rectory – here it is as it was painted all white.
The house they moved into is called The Old Rectory and is located a mile from the Duke’s mansion. Jemma’s house was built in the 1780s and was twice enlarged in 1850 and 1980. The house sits behind Saint Mary’s church above.
Today, the white paint has been cleaned off exposing the original pink brick. It was probably spruced up to go along with the family moving into the house which is called The Old Rectory as it is located right behind this church.
Inside the family church with its turquoise painted pews. Isn’t this fabulous, your own family church and such a beautiful one at that? Outside some family members are buried in the ancient graves.
Jemma did not marry here, instead she chose to be married at her parent’s house in Barbados at their guest house Holders House, HERE.
The Old Rectory:
This large lawn is located directly behind the St. Mary’s Church and leads to the front door of Jemma’s house. The lawn is mowed in alternating stripes of high and low to give it a striped look. Lime trees are cut into square shapes.
And here, looking from inside the house at the same lawn – which ends at the church. From Instagram.
And the back side of the house.
And this view from the side. Again, the cut of the grass is an important element in the landscape.
The front door. I don’t this is the original section of the house from 1780 but maybe the part that was built in 1850s.
The front hall opens to a two story stair well. Penny Morrison placed a more contemporary hall table by William Yeoward here. To the left is the Drawing Room.
The Drawing Room:
The drawing room is casual, not stuffy. The slipper chairs and ottoman and rug are from Irving & Morrison. The chairs are such a wonderful touch! These are on their web site.
In a previous photoshoot seen in Vogue UK, antique chairs stand in the windows – I like the new ones seen in Elle Décor so much better. Don’t they make the room pop whereas here, it looks so blah?
You can tell the library is in the older section of the house by how high the ceilings are and the crown molding is so fancy. Again, a wonderful ottoman and lots of pinks and greens. Morrison designed the bookcases and they are quite the focal point. But – the antique map of England and Wales steals the show!!!
The house was old and needed updating, especially the heating system – it was freezing inside. They added 40 radiators, radiant heating under the floors, and new boilers.
In the earlier photoshoot in Vogue UK, small decorative elements were different then, like the pillows in these chairs.
More of the library: Here, is a bust of the first Duke of Wellington, along with tin boxes from his campaign which held his clothes. Love the brass bar from which all the prints hang.
The Sitting Room – is pure Penny Morrison – geared for a younger, vibrant English family. Penny mixed in antique fabrics and the dhurri from Irving & Morrison along with Claremont curtains. The pinks and greens look so pretty together and I love the pop of blue at the curtains. Is this the same F&B green as found in Penny’s own library? Looks like it.
The courtyard was also changed drastically by Penny. Before, there was plastic sheeting covering the courtyard, and today instead there is a beautiful glass conservatory which turns the room into a suntrap. This is the early version of the room – seen in Vogue UK, but in Elle Decor, it looks so much better:
Here, Morrison added a rug and a fabulous Suzani with chevron covered stools to warm up the area. It looks so much better and warmer now.
Morrison took four small rooms and made the large kitchen area. Concrete flooring.
The breakfast room with chairs from OKA.
The master bedroom has handpainted wallpaper from Fromental with a canopy bed.
Antiques against the Fromental paper. I would have done a smaller gilt mirror instead of covering up the wallpaper.
A jib door.
And this darling vanity table.
And Jemma’s bathroom – with carpet of course! WHY!!!!!???!!! There are carpets in every one of these bathrooms!! Why do the English do that???? Love the windows.
The guest room is so English.
Finally, the boot room – the most classic room in an English country house.
So, what do you do if you want a Penny Morrison look but are not “to the manor born” like Jemma Kidd?
This London house looks more like a nice condo or townhouse in the states. Mostly Morrison’s clients have large mansions on estates or large townhouses in London. This house looks accessible to more people without it looking like corners were cut.
Can Morrison’s aesthetic be broken down and made available to us budget minded people? Sure! One main element in almost every design is her luscious wall colors – the Farrow & Ball green blues and pinks. F&B is a very expensive paint – but you can take a paint chip to your local paint store and order it in a much cheaper brand. No, it won’t be like the F&B texture or quality, but the color will be close enough and you will save a small fortune. For instance, this bluish green that she used here and in her own house really makes a great statement.
I’ve also noticed that Morrison likes to use matching tables and consoles and lamps which provide a nice symmetry. Demi lune tables are great for this purpose especially when flanking a fireplace or used on either side of a sofa. I like to use vintage English gate leg tables that I find at resale shops for a song and then stain them very dark. Ebay is great for these kinds of tables.
Jus $199 on Ebay HERE. here are quie a few good gae legs for a song on Ebay.
Two of these chests @ just $175 would be great flanking a fireplace HERE
or these Swedish end tables HERE.
The one item that Penny Morrison uses the most is the white slipcovered sofa. And it really does pop against the green and pink walls and her bright fabrics. I’ve pushed the white slipcover look for years and I’m still a fan of it today – partly for the looks of it and partly for its practicality. Budget wise – the best deal is this one from Ikea – the 3 seat cushion version is only $399, more for the other color slips. And it’s still such a great bargain. Using this sofa as the anchor in your room is a great start to recreate a Morrison look in your own apartment or house.
$279 from Ikea HERE
Morrison uses mostly her own or English fabrics for curtains, bedding and chairs, and uses kilims and ikats for pillows, ottoman, and rugs. I thought this rug from Ikea would look great against her green walls or pink/beige walls, layered over a textural rug.
As for the Irving & Morrison fabrics, I noticed something familiar when I was picking out pillows for my daughter’s apartment – on Etsy. Look here:
The fabric on the red chairs and the pillows looked a lot like fabrics I had seen on Etsy:
These pillows from Irving & Morrison are the same ones, in velvet, on Etsy:
Etsy sells very similar looking pillows – here are a few examples from Sephardicny – HERE.
And there are great Kilim sources on Etsy with budgets in mind HERE.
Another key element are Morrison’s lampshades and lamps. I can’t find substitute fabric shades that are such an important part of her designs, but here are two lamps that would fit in with her style at a budget.
A tole ikat lamp – so great for an English interior. HERE
And this green glass lamp - just $179 HERE
Finally – fabrics. Duplicating gorgeous handprinted linen for a song is almost impossible. It just is – unless you get lucky on EBay, which I have before with gorgeous Bennison fabric.
The best thing you can do is find an inexpensive print in linen or cotton. I found an unexpected source myself – Joann Fabrics Online, only. I was searching for a fabric and was surprised at their selection and how inexpensive they were. Here are my top picks from Joann’s online site for recreating this colorful and youthful English Country Manor look:
This pink suzani $35.00 HERE would make great curtains.
This would be good for curtains or chair fabric $27.00 HERE
Curtains, pillows, ottomans - $22.00 HERE
Curtains, chairs - $9.99 HERE
Slipcovers, curtains $12.50 HERE
Curtains or chairs - $19.99 HERE
I think using all these fabrics, paint color, ethnic textiles, colorful lamps, traditional furniture – you can easily get Morrison’s look for your own, and on a budget.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at Penny Morrison today. To see more of her look, go HERE