interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: maxine sutton

by anne

it’s hard to picture 80 teenagers gallivanting around the beautiful home of embroidery and textile designer maxine sutton, but that was the scene last weekend for the celebration of her son’s 16th birthday. luckily the gorgeous home is still in one piece. maxine, her husband and their three kids moved into this c.1840 early victoria townhouse in the seaside town of ramsgate, kent three years ago. after living in london they needed more space to live and work, not to mention a change of scenery. they were quickly attracted to the area by its proximity to london, the sea and beautiful beaches, the pretty harbor, wonderful architecture and great affordable houses. click here for more, full-sized images of this delightful home, and don’t miss more of maxine’s work here, and visit her shop here. {thanks, maxine!}anne

[above: It’s a big old solid place built of brick with a smooth stucco front. The outside was painted last autumn and we’ve started work on the garden this summer, so hopefully next year with some growth, the beds and planting will start to take shape. Now that we’ve started on the garden I’ve turned into somewhat of a plant addict so the collection of pots and containers around the front door will no doubt expand.

It was very dark everywhere when we first arrived, so we started by ripping up dark carpets and heavy window coverings, sanding back the floors and re-painting everywhere, to brighten and lighten the space. The curved wood handrail is a favorite original feature of the house. The striped stair carpet is by Crucial Trading and is super practical, with kids and dogs!

On the first floor landing is the beginning of our collection of round mirrors. The embroidered Brain Shade is from my 2005 MA collection. The charcoal drawing is by my husband Daniel; we both studied Fine Art as first degrees and he is now an exhibition designer running his own company, Designmap. The oil landscape is a treasured gift by Daniels dad Sid, also a designer and artist.

Like most of the house this room is still evolving. Well used by all of us it has to be practical and I’d rather not feel too precious about furniture and possessions so lots of the furniture is from charity and second-hand shops, like the coffee table that was £5! The ceiling is high and the room quite large so finding an appropriate light fitting was daunting – all the antique chandeliers we liked seemed out of reach! This new one from John Lewis is a great compromise and was a house-warming present from our parents.

CLICK HERE for the rest of maxine’s peek (and all the images on one page) after the jump!


The cream pouffe and black leather chair are both Ebay buys.


The wallpaper is ‘Mimosa’ by Cole & Son.


Moses is our 3yr old English Pointer, getting him was part of our big move and new lives by the sea. We never would have had a dog in London but here he gets lots of running on the beach. The little Victorian chair is again from a local second-hand shop and the cushion is one of my own.


The bedroom faces the central gardens and the view of the tall trees is lovely in the mornings and evenings. In the winter the trees are beautiful and bare and we can see the houses opposite and then it’s all lush and green and cool in the summer. We’ve painted the walls with Farrow and Ball, ‘James White’ which is very peaceful and calm. Above the fireplace are two cyanotype prints on fabric that I made.


The little armchair in the bedroom is from a fantastic place in nearby Margate called Junk Deluxe, which is run by Ben Scott and housed within an incredible second-hand emporium called R.G. Scotts, it’s a truly amazing hidden away treasure trove though well known by locals. We liked the chair because it’s a bit like a Gio Ponti, though it’s actually English and 1960’s I think? I recovered it in the blue/grey stripe fabric. We inherited the 1930/40’s tallboy from Daniels family.


The main bathroom is also our en-suite, which is a real treat. I spent hours sourcing sanitary ware and fittings online to try and keep costs down and most of it including the glass shower panel, came through Ebay. The bath is a factory second and the taps were salvaged from the existing bath. The polished ceramic floor tiles are from B&Q. The unfinished canvas is a the beginning of a painting I started in 1990 I think? I quite like unfinished, unresolved things – they encapsulate a sense of fluidity and fresh possibilities.


The basement kitchen was another job that couldn’t wait much longer as the damp was seeping through and remedial works had to be carried out. Light and more light was our main objective down here, so we’ve opted for, white walls, white gloss units, oak floors and pale grey worktops in an effort to maximize the light. This is the first brand new kitchen we’ve ever had so it’s been a real pleasure and has made us feel quite grown up! On the blackboard wall is a poster from the Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent, Belgium, that we visited this summer. Another fantastic feature of the area are the ferries going to Belgium just at the bottom of the hill! The museum is highly recommended if ever visiting Ghent, it has a wonderful collection of Outsider Art.


The kitchen dining area is another well used space for the whole family; for gatherings, eating, working and music practice. The chunky reclaimed teak table is from the Danish furniture company Ilva. The vintage print trays display all our ‘little’ things, like all the blue and white china fragments, shells and pebbles with faces, that we pick up on beach walks. We liked the idea of trees growing on the walls down here and started out looking for a tree wallpaper, but then we found the charming Moustache Tree vinyl by French designer Inga Sempe.


We had another light fitting dilemma down here as we forgot to specify the two, instead of one, pendant fittings we wanted when the ceiling was re-plastered! Then we bought a three arm 1950’s chrome light that needed re-wiring and three mis-matched glass shades. Somehow we never got around to re-wiring it and then at Christmas I put up this stripped back frame. To begin with it was just the bare frame and then one day I added all the bits and pieces: buttons, beads, short bits of ribbon, vintage keys and broken jewelery pieces, just all the kinds of things you keep in a jar or drawer. It’s still a work in progress – I’m keeping a look out for a little feathery moth eaten birdy to add to it. In the background is a vintage Thonet chair that’s waiting for some attention as it’s little rickety.


Above the hall table, the small green paper cut is a Rob Ryan piece that was a free gift on the front of a magazine called Amelia’s Magazine. The large crucifix was given to me as a baby for my baptism, it’s got quite damaged over the years but is very special to me and I got a small shell crucifix last year to keep it company. [right] The teak side table is one of a pair that my parents had made in the 60’s when we lived Hong Kong and Singapore, my sister has the matching coffee table. About 5 years ago when my grandmother died our Mum gave me, and my brother and sister, all some money specifically to buy a piece of artwork as a lasting legacy and I bought the lithograph by Roger Hilton. An embroidered picture from a charity shop slightly stained and worn, sits on the table.

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  • Love the creative and clever way you handled the lighting dilemma–and I also love the way you’re letting it develop over time. It brings a real personal touch to such a lovely space!

  • I need to know the story of this gorgeous red dress/ tapestry (?) in the stairway, please tell us! it is magnificent! Love your mini garden too, very welcoming!

  • this is my favorite sneak peak yet. the house feels so homey and you can tell the family’s needs come first, although it looks wonderful all the same! plus, living by the beach and close to london??? what a dream!!

  • Wow, I’ve been reading DS for a couple of months in preparation for our move to… Ramsgate, Kent! How fantastic so see that such a beautiful house exists just down the road from us. I love it!

  • I adore your home! If you wouldn’t mind sharing, what is the color blue (brand/name) that is on the walls along the stairs?

  • it’s lovely. i especially like the work-in-progress lampshade in the dining room and the side-by-side letterpress trays for treasures. i want to go back for a second look already!

  • Someday I’d love to have a house with an entrance like this one. So refreshing it’s not all perfect and showroom shiny. Seems incredibly comfortable.

  • thanks everyone for your lovely comments.

    Kristen, the walls in the hallway are painted with a Dulux heritage colour called: Regency Grey, though it comes out more blue?
    The red hanging is an experimental piece I made during my MA when I was fascinated by superstitions and ancient customs and the role textiles have played ie: rag trees as votive/memory prayer trees, red stitching on blankets /clothing as protection, sharp objects, mirrors beads etc to ward off evil. So I made this protective blanket piece with clothing scraps, safety pins, buttons etc.

  • Lovely! And I especially like how you incorporated your TV into your decorating instead of hiding it (like so many designers suggest)! Really wonderful job.

  • This is my dream home – I love the mix of old and new, the light, the bursts of colour. GORGEOUS.

  • What a lovely, eclectic home… with such wonderful selections chosen throughout. Definitely not cookie cutter. LOVE IT!

  • this space is perfection. wowwww it’s so fantastic. i’m glad to see somebody else use their clothes as artwork. love it.

  • The home is beautiful! I’m struck by both the red weaving and the ideas behind it. I’ve tried to access Maxine’s website to hopefully learn more about her exploration of this topic but have been experiencing technical problems. Grace, Maxine, could we get a special post on this? Pretty please?

  • yes! the red dress/skirt/textile piece with the mod circular pendant light, muted striped carpet, and white walls = perfect composition!

  • what a wonderful home – i’m so pleased to see someone else also appreciating sketches and works in progress, so often more dynamic than the finished thing. thank you for sharing your home!

  • That red dress (is it a dress?) is incredible! And the curved stairway feels almost Gaudi-esque. What a fantastic home.

  • Maxine,

    I love that your TV is not the focal point of the living room. Can you tell me what size it is?

  • OMG! I used to live in ramsgate.. near clarendon house school.. So refreshing to hear that you moved there from london.. i did the exact opposite!

    My folks are still in Westgate so i pop back from time to time.. thanet area really has potential.. if only everyone saw that! it really should have the same vibe as brighton.. maybe in future it will!

    great house btw ;)

  • beautiful house – the bathroom in particular is wonderful. I’m definitely lacking in the interior design skills department – lots of tips noted here :)

  • Hello. I love your stairs carpet. Can you recall the color name. I fear that it may have been discontinued. Thanks