House & Garden August 2019 issue

My husband and I have an on-going discussion about taste. He says that his taste is innate and that mine is acquired. But after a lifetime of looking at interiors, I’m a firm believer that one’s eye can – and needs to be – trained if it’s going to be really good. The desire to observe and create may be innate, but it is no surprise that the truly great designers and tastemakers have been honing their eye and their art for several decades.

On pages 76-81, we feature Wendy Harrop’s house in Wiltshire. Wendy was decoration editor at House & Garden from 2002 to 2009 and has a very good eye. Gabby Deeming, who succeeded her, writes eloquently about how Wendy taught her to see in ways that were ‘elegant, simple and completely original’. The decorator Susan Wyndham, whose house in Spain we feature from page 70, cites the influence of Jean Monro, whom she worked for after studying at Inchbald School of Design.

I certainly have had several people in my life who have helped train my eye – be they my mother’s curtain maker, who took me to Decorex when I was 18, or my grandmother. She was brought up in South Africa and had her own, elegant take on English style. Her brother had the most wonderful Cape Dutch house – lovingly restored and curated, and imaginatively decorated. Losing his inhibitions in old age, he very openly talked about his divine taste. And divine it was. My parents, too, have always created houses that are welcoming, layered and personal, and have had a strong influence on how I put together a room.

For me, that a house reveals a personal point of view is key to its appeal and we strive for this in the interiors and inspiration we choose for each issue. This month, we reveal four very different houses, including the wonderfully idiosyncratic house in Cornwall of our new contributing editor Fiona Golfar (from page 90). It feels full of love and thought and supremely welcoming as a result.

In this issue, we also feature a quietly spectacular project in Devon (from page 110) by Dan Pearson – who earlier this year won our Garden Designer of the Year award. This wonderful garden leading down to the sea, which feels so right for its setting, is the product of a strong synergy between owners and designer. It is also as sustainable as possible. Working with the seasons and the coastal climate, they set out to ensure that there was a broad species mix in both the garden and wider landscape, and not just for the look of things. It is how we must all be thinking – and acting – in today’s world.