PROPERTY
Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Creative class

Bath Lateral Apartment (2) (Medium)

Frequently featuring in top interior designer and design firm lists, Sims Hilditch specialises in a broad range of private, high-end residential and commercial projects in the UK and Europe. Founder Emma Sims Hilditch’s multidisciplinary team focuses on combining integrated architecture and interior design with traditional craftsmanship and bespoke furniture design. With never a dull day in the studio, Emma explained to Emily Bird her favourite parts of a new project and what her team do to stay motivated.



Q Can you describe for us the Sims Hilditch signature style?
A
We don’t have one signature look that we roll out regardless – if I have done my job really well, the result should appear effortless rather than overtly designed. We were once described as the interior design practice “that those in the know turn to for a breezy twenty–first century take on classic English style.” I like to think this encapsulates the brand. We believe good design can truly transform lives, and a successful project is all about making our clients’ homes work for their lifestyle.

Q How has your background in film production shaped your interior style?
A
When I was working with Ridley Scott, I developed a love for light, colour and detail. It was a brilliant opportunity to learn about space on a greater scale.
Bath Lateral Apartment (1) (Medium)
Q How do you spend your perfect day off when away from the studio?
A
I love spending time with my husband and our three children. It’s wonderful when we can all be together. My husband loves to sail so we often spend our weekends together at our beach house in St Mawes.

Q Who or what has been your greatest source of inspiration during your career?
A
I’ve always been inspired by the design work of Michele Bonan, an Italian designer who works for very chic hotels in Florence, Capri and Rome. I also admire Axel Vervoordt for his understated but eminently chic interiors.

“Sims Hilditch has a natural empathy for space, light and proportion, which can clearly be seen in the finished interior...”
HOUSE & GARDEN

Q What is the most enjoyable part of an interior design project?
A
There are many enjoyable moments. I love it all! Presenting design schemes, choosing beautiful antique pieces of furniture or seeing the client’s reaction after installation, it’s difficult to choose one.

Q And the hardest?
A
Working within strict timescales. However, we are fortunate to have a wonderful team who, at times, seem to achieve the impossible!
Dorset Manor (3) (Medium)
Q Can you talk us through the interior design of your own home?
A
Our home is tucked away in a valley. It’s such a wonderfully peaceful place and I wanted the design to reflect this. We actually found our home by chance while driving around the local area; however, it was a dilapidated building. After renovating throughout, it became my dream home. I loved using natural materials throughout: in particular wools, linens, stone and wood. Natural materials have an innate quality and timelessness, they bring texture and depth to any home.

Q What has been your most unusual/unique project to date?
A
We recently completed a sixteenth century manor house which had previously had purple padded fabric walls and emerald green carpet. It was quite a transformation!

Q How do you keep your team motivated to ensure constant creativity?
A
I love to encourage the team to visit new hotels and restaurants for inspiration. We also attend design shows and have regular team lunches at the studio.
Cotswold Manor (2) (Medium)
Q What’s in store for Sims Hilditch in the next year? Do you have any exciting upcoming projects?
A
We have lots of exciting things coming up. We’re currently working on a few different projects, including Laura Ashley’s former home, a Georgian townhouse in London, a Worcestershire manor house and a Knightsbridge apartment.

Dream properties - Part 2

In part 2 of our selection of the world’s finest homes, Lucy Crossfield continues her look at some of the most exotic, luxurious and unique houses money can buy and all outstanding examples of architectural prowess.

Villa Kogelhof main

Villa Kogelhof – Noord-Beveland, Netherlands
Architect: Paul de Ruiter
Image courtesy of Jeroen Musch

Villa Kogelhof exceeds expectations in many ways. Not only is it an architectural triumph, with an underground level containing space for six cars, an office space and bathroom, and a living area atop two ‘legs’ with stunning 360 degree views, but the home is also leading the way in terms of sustainable living.

Architect Paul de Ruiter designed the house to be entirely self-sufficient. Villa Kogelhof’s glass walls help to insulate the building, while solar panels on the roof provide more energy than is needed. The villa also boasts its own in-house cooling system, as well as a clever ‘water roof’ which enables the basement level to be flooded with natural light. Approximately 70,000 trees were planted in the surrounding acres of previously underused land, ensuring Villa Kogelhof is situated in the midst of a thriving ecological community.

Croft House main
Croft House – Victoria, Australia
Architect: James Stockwell
Image courtesy of James Archibald
Located in an exposed area of Victoria’s southern coast, Croft House draws its inspiration from the elements.

Architect James Stockwell was asked to create a property that would offer protection from the wind, rain, sun and fire. Its winged structure lies low and flat in the ground, with its entrance and front garden sheltered from the strong prevailing winds. Exterior walls are clad in zinc to further shield the building, and as James explains, they require “virtually no maintenance”. A woodburning stove takes central position inside, efficiently heating the well-insulated home. Croft House is an emphatic example of how hostile elements can inspire exceptional architecture.

The Cresta main
The Cresta – San Diego, California
Architect: Jonathan Segal
Image courtesy of Matthew Segal

This 5,300 square foot property is a sight to behold. Designed to achieve a sense of harmony and balance, as much care has been poured into the outside space as the interior. Glass walls are a prominent feature throughout: though not at the expense of residents’ privacy. Concrete façades have been cleverly positioned around the outskirts of the property to offer seclusion as well as visual appeal. A cut out concrete roof offers shelter to a portion of the outside space, while ensuring natural light reaches the main house in abundance. The beautiful pool that surrounds the property has zones for casual swimming as well as lengths, and creates an island-like oasis of calm in the central dining area. Inside, furniture is kept to a minimum, with simple, clean shapes used throughout.

Malbaie VIII main
Malbaie VIII – Quebec, Canada
Architect: MU Architecture
Image courtesy of MU Architecture

This Canadian property sits majestically within its surroundings. It boasts spectacular views over the St. Lawrence River and the thousands of spruce trees that fringe its borders. Architects at MU Architecture drew much of their inspiration from the surrounding forests. The dark grey metal that clads three of the outer walls and roof forms a protective shell, while the final wall of the exterior is stripped back to reveal a softer, wood-panelled finish. This, the architects say, represents the idea of a tree’s bark being peeled back to reveal its fragile inner core. Wood is a key theme of the property’s interior too. Ceilings and walls are almost entirely covered in wood and the entire property has a cosy chalet-esque feel.

Edgeland House main
Edgeland House – Austin, Texas
Architect: Bercy Chen Studio
Image courtesy of Paul Bardagjy

Edgeland House is a shining example of restoration and rejuvenation. The land was a former brownfield site that had been neglected following many years of industrial misuse. Architects at Bercy Chen Studio were tasked with creating a home that would heal the land, rather than disrupt it further. The best way forward? Create a modern re-interpretation of one of the oldest housing typologies in North America, the Native American pit house. Traditionally pit houses were sunk into the earth to offer shelter, protection and thermal regulation. Edgeland House looks to recreate this. The grass-covered roof keeps the home cool in summer and warm in winter as well as supporting local wildlife ecosystems.

Evans House main
Evans House – Mendoza, Argentina
Architect: A4ESTUDIO
Image courtesy of Michael Evans

Framed by the Andes Mountains and surrounded by Argentinian vineyards, there are worse places to be than Evans House. Architects drew inspiration from a fallen, hollowed-out tree trunk, building a long and linear structure rather than one that was tall and invasive.

Indeed, designers ensured Evans House was as unobtrusive as possible and aimed to complement materials and shapes with the natural landscape. The main façade is clad in rusty steel while the supporting structure is built from river rock. From a distance, the house appears to melt into the landscape as a mere shadow. Continuing the tree trunk resemblance inside, each room showcases beautiful wooden panelling. Other enviable features include an extensive wine collection housed in a purpose-built wine cellar, rooftop pool and large entertaining space.

ARCA main
ARCA – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Architect: Atelier Marko Brajovic
Image courtesy of Victor Affaro

ARCA is a brilliant project hidden deep in the Brazilian forest, close to the beautiful Perequé waterfall. The structure is designed and built from a single shell of composite carbon steel, aluminium and zinc.

This allows the home to be dismantled easily and rebuilt in different locations, with minimal impact to the surrounding forestry. ARCA has two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and a generously proportioned living space. Each room has unobstructed views over the rainforest thanks to the huge semi-circular windows that front the property. Atelier Marko Brajovic’s aim is to encourage families, professionals or couples seeking a totally immersive jungle experience to come and stay at ARCA for a short period of time.

Barn House main
Barn House – Los Ríos region, Chile
Estudio Valdés Arquitectos
Image courtesy of Felipe Díaz Contardo

In 2010 when a large earthquake all but destroyed a large timber barn in Chile’s Aculeo Lagoon region, two brothers from architect firm Estudio Valdés Arquitectos saw an opportunity to resurrect the impressive building. Large portions of the original barn’s timber framework were salvaged and moved down country to Lake Ranco, where the brothers began their new project. Naturally, the architects wanted the reclaimed timber to become the focal point of the new building.

They worked hard to design a structure where the timber trusses span the entire width of the building, with no internal columns to distract from the impressive feature. Large glass walls wrap the house in order to: “recreate the experience of being in the forest, but also of being sheltered,” the architects explain. Now nestled on the shores of Lake Ranco, this beautiful barn house has certainly stood the test of time.

House Mouton main
House Mouton – Pretoria, South Africa
Earthworld Architects
Image courtesy of Dook Photography

House Mouton is full of rustic charm. Every aspect of the property has been designed with the environment in mind.

The home is divided into four single-storey sections – for eating, sleeping, services and guests – to minimise visual disruption to the surroundings. Ceiling heights are kept low for the same reason and great efforts were made to use only natural materials in building House Mouton. Inside, the designers aimed to create a ‘warm home for its dwellers without opulence’. Wood, rattan and stone in earthy hues are used throughout in order to achieve the desired look. House Mouton blends seamlessly into its bushveld surroundings.

Leobo Private Reserve main
Leobo Private Reserve – Limpopo, South Africa
Architect: Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens
Image courtesy of Trendir

Leobo Private Reserve is much more than an exquisite home. The property lies in the midst of a 12,000 acre private wildlife reserve and has been dubbed the most sought after safari lodge in Africa.

The décor is rustic-luxe, yet no expense has been spared on additional features. The home includes an infinity pool and a world-class observatory centre that allows users to admire the night sky in complete privacy. All bedrooms are fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, and many include a stunning circular bathroom complete with freestanding tub. Until recently, the property was used as a holiday home for a British family, but it has recently become available on a limited commercial basis. Head over to the Leobe Private Reserve website for more details about this unforgettable safari experience.

Villa Suluwilo main
Villa Suluwilo – Vamizi Island, Mozambique
Architect: COA
Image courtesy of Chris Coldicott

Villa Suluwilo is nestled among three acres of forest on one of Mozambique’s most exclusive luxury islands. The beachfront property can provide those staying with the ultimate getaway: relaxation is the name of the game at Villa Suluwilo. The stand-out features of the villa are the ‘dhow sail’ roofs, inspired by the Arab dhow boats that used to frequent the area in the fifteenth century. The roofs are carefully angled to encourage sea breezes to flow through the property, keeping it pleasantly cool even in strong sun. There is an Arabic edge to the interior décor too: guests can relax in the sunken Arab courtyard or dine amid the earthy orange and red hues of the living spaces.