Interiorssneak peeks

In England, a Homeowner Learns the Importance of Patience

by Garrett Fleming

My boyfriend and I have only lived in our new home for a month and a half, but it’s already taught us a lot about interior design. So I’m not surprised to hear that shop owner Gemma Lewis has learned a lifetime’s worth of decorating lessons in the four years she’s spent renovating her early-1900s home in Surrey, England.

Gemma shares the space with her husband Gary and two children — a brood not unfamiliar with moving around. For a decade they bopped between houses throughout England, living in each for no more than a year. This nomadic lifestyle has given Gemma several insights into how to set up a home quickly and make it comfortable. Her current Edwardian looker in Surrey, however, highlighted the setbacks of her trigger finger: “I don’t often take the time to plan my decorating at home. I tend to rush straight in and hope for the best, which is probably why some of the rooms have been changed at least four times in the four years we have been here.”

Not only has this century-old home taught her to take her time, but it’s also shed light on the importance of paying attention to details. When the family purchased the home, for example, they initially only planned on renovating the kitchen. Upon closer inspection, though, it became apparent that the upstairs bathroom also needed to be gutted. This led to a rushed contractor search and a truncated timeline that forced the pair and their two small children to live in the house while it was under construction.

Luckily, Gemma has taken the setbacks in stride and her experiences mixing the old and new have given the home a one-of-a-kind feel. It may have been a winding road, but the end result is quite stunning. Scroll down to see more, and enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Gemma Lewis

Image above: This end of the family’s living room seemed destined to be a formal dining area, but Gemma, Gary and their children didn’t have a need for one. Instead, Gemma’s filled it with decorations that aren’t super functional but that make her happy. She found these treasures in an antique dealer’s barn.


The living area is the darkest room in the house, but instead of using lighting to make it super bright, Gemma has leaned into its moodiness. Accent lamps and rich textiles make it undeniably cozy.


Gemma loves displaying modern art in vintage frames. She uses her collection to distract from the large TV in the living room.


Gemma and her family used to move once a year, therefore, they didn’t have time to become a part of their local communities. After being in this home for four years they now see the value in putting down roots.


When she first moved in, Gemma was convinced painting the existing kitchen cabinetry grey would give their streamlined design some pizzazz. She later realized that the color couldn’t compensate for their simple shape, though. She ended up replacing the set with this Shaker-style option in a pale pink.


These shelves are actually delivery pallets from Gemma’s shop. They were part of a complete kitchen renovation that turned the galley-style space into a more functional square shape.


The contractors totally abandoned the kitchen renovation in the middle of the project, leaving Gemma and Gary scratching their heads. Luckily some of Gemma’s contacts were able to swoop in and finish the job.


“My favourite thing about my home… is the greeting when I return.”  – Gemma Lewis


The shelving in the couple’s daughter Erin’s room was once attached to the dresser in the living area.


Erin didn’t want a pink bedroom, but she did want something airy and soft. Lilac has proven to be a great option.


Gemma uses organic shapes and hues to prevent Erin’s room from appearing too precious.


Gary gave Gemma this piece of artwork by Daisy Bowman for her 40th birthday.


Plants and coral accessories have made this “boring, biscuity” sofa seem fresh.


The original entry to the kitchen sat to the left of this sliding barn door.


This pup painting by Gemma’s brother is the cornerstone of her son Sam’s bedroom. The piece’s teal background inspired his wall color and bedding.


Whenever she wants to switch up the look of her and Gary’s bedroom, Gemma plucks a new hue from the vintage artwork above the headboard. She then tracks down sheets and throw pillows to complement the chosen color.


The home office isn’t used much so it typically just acts as a drying area for laundry.


The first few design decisions in the home were made rather quickly. Several of those initial choices have been undone, but the bathroom tile has stood the test of time.


The ground floor’s layout.


The first floor’s layout.


Mural – Woodchip & Magnolia
Paint – Little Greene “Juniper Ash”

Living Room
Sofa – Maisons Du Monde
Chairs, dresser – vintage
Amber vase, faux fern, throw pillows, copper vase – Wattle & Daub
Dog print, floral canvas – Russell Lewis
Photograph – Keith Cardwell
Pendant light – Rothschilds & Bickers
Velvet Curtains – Made

Cabinetry paint – Farrow & Ball “Sulking Room Pink”
Wall paint – Little Greene “Sage Green”
Copper pans – eBay
Pottery – Leighan Thomas

Erin’s Bedroom
Bed – vintage
Rug – BHS
Vase – Anthropologie
Throw blanket, throw pillows, wreath – Wattle & Daub

Sam’s Bedroom
Dog print – Russell Lewis
Bed – Made
Throw – Wattle & Daub

Gemma & Gary’s Room
Paint – Farrow & Ball “Purbeck Stone”
Throws – Wattle & Daub
Side table, dresser, artwork – vintage

Paint – Little Greene “Juniper Ash”
Mural – Woodchip & Magnolia
Chair, glass vase, faux flowers – Wattle & Daub
Radio – vintage

Light – Ebb & Flow
Artwork – vintage
Tile – local shop

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  • I would love to know what the paint color in Sam’s room is, as well as the living room. Thank you!

  • What a beautiful, cozy and atmospheric home!!!! It is incredibly lovely but in a every-so-slightly subversive way. It’s just so pretty and soooo badass! I love it.

  • I love the warmth and richness of the colours in this home, from walls to furnishings. The colour combinations are so different and yet somehow seem as though they are the obvious complements for each other. This is a lovely home.

  • This well and truly is the most perfect, beautiful, moody, glorious, surprising home I’ve seen (ever? maybe!)
    Thank you for showing us your place, I love everything but mostly and most particularly all those works & paintings of your dogs and HOW they are such an important part of your ‘well-being’ in your home. You must be good people…. It shows!