Interior and Exterior Design in Harmony by Martin Nealon


As an interior designer I am often bemused by the clients decision to appoint a landscape designer as a separate entity to the interior design team effectively isolating the garden as a separate project. This inevitably results in a lack of continuity between the interior and exterior scheme.

I made the decision to include the garden design as part of the interior design package on future projects to allow for continuity of design between the two. Whilst my skillset allowed for a good understanding of space planning within the garden I lacked the knowledge to design a coherent landscaping scheme so I attended the KLC Garden Diploma course which allowed me to build on my existing skillset and expand my knowledge of garden specific design history, planting and practical application within a garden environment.

The ‘Lake House’ featured in this article was my first project where the clients brief included interior and exterior design.

The client purchased the house due to its location which gave it wonderful views over lake Windermere and it was to be used as a holiday home for the family. The building itself was in good condition but it had a very 70’s feel to it and needed updating.  The landscape was mature and well maintained but the only connection to the garden was via a side door from the utility room and it lacked the entertaining facilities the client required.

As part of the interior brief the client made it clear that they didn’t want major structural alterations, they liked the layout of the existing rooms but they were willing to strip the rooms back to brick and start again to create a new contemporary interior with the latest home automation. The only structural alterations they agreed to related to garden access where I was given permission to install frameless glass walls that folded back to allow access to the garden from the kitchen, dining and family room areas.

The interior scheme was done using a cream and ivory pallet with oak as a natural element within the scheme. The oak was particularly interesting as it allowed continuity but I was able to specify different treatments such as natural oiled oak in the informal areas and piano finish book matched burr oak in the formal rooms to create a different feel in each area.

When I discussed the garden with the client the most interesting part of the conversation related to their choice of family holiday. They always chose a villa with facilities such as a hot tub, steam rooms and entertaining facilities outside. Based on this I suggested the garden should reflect the standard of facilities they were used to on holiday and they liked this idea.

The garden area immediately outside the kitchen, dining and family room was designed as a series of rooms that could be used as an extension of the interior. By folding back the frameless glass screen you had access to an outside lounge, dining and kitchen area.

The introduction of the hot tub and steam room was more problematic due to the gradients within the garden landscape. The solution was to excavate part of the hillside and design a structure that embedded itself within the hillside. The interior facilities included a changing room, WC, shower room and steam room whilst the roof offered the perfect location for a hot tub with amazing views over the lake.

An interesting aspect of the clients brief was the way it evolved. When I surveyed the garden there was an old fence at the bottom edge with scrubland beyond running down to the lake. It was assumed this was not part of the clients property but he casually mentioned that he owned that as well. I was frankly astonished, the client saw this as a useless overgrown area that needed screening from the garden. As a designer I saw it as a prime piece of real estate that could accommodate a wonderful entertaining area on the edge of lake Windermere with a jetty to moor a small yacht. The client loved our vision for this area and gave permission to design this as an extension of the existing garden.

The overall scheme was so successful the clients perception of it as a holiday home changed and it is now their main residence.

Interior and exterior design by Angel Martin



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