We call this colour “freshly laid cowpat”,’ says the designer Ben Pentreath of the greeny-brown grasscloth used on the bedroom walls of this house in north London. ‘That’s how we sold it to the owner.’ Ben is particularly fond of this colour; he used it in his own house, which was featured in House & Garden in August 2016. She laughs and admits to being totally sold on Ben, who has helped her make some brave decisions. The house, built in 1910, in an area of Arts and Crafts houses, was dark and very tired when she and her husband bought it four years ago. ‘There were lots of small rooms, but no obvious main sitting room,’ says her husband.

Chris Pask of Charlton Brown Architects had just begun the task of turning two ground-floor rooms into one big living room when Ben came on board. ‘The first thing was restoring the panelling in here to emphasise its Arts and Crafts sensibility,’ says Ben. His office drew the design and it was made by Symm, along with the rest of the joinery. ‘I wanted this room to feel calm and soothing,’ adds Ben, looking round at the neutral tones of the paint, fabrics and rush matting.

Ben’s interiors are known for a layered feeling, a mix of objects of different eras and styles, so his rooms appear to have been put together over many years. The layers in the living room include a Sixties-style brass cocktail trolley, twentieth-century abstract paintings, vivid Svenskt Tenn cushions, a nineteenth-century mahogany library table, a Chinese bowl and some mochaware mugs arranged, with bashed-but-beautiful brass candlesticks, on the mantelpiece.

There are many other touches of brass throughout the house, but the Seventies-inspired dining room, with its grasscloth walls, is the brassiest of all. A mirror-brass sideboard, designed for the room by Rupert Bevan, reflects the maze pattern of the rug, and there are chunky brass candlesticks on the table with a Stilnovo mid-century hanging light overhead.

If the dining room is perfect for entertaining, the kitchen is a scene of architectural piety. In a handsome new wing, Chris has paid tribute to Edwin Lutyens’ majestic kitchen at Castle Drogo, Devon, finished in 1930. Daylight floods in from the central dome and from curved windows in the arched walls, lighting a vast marble-topped island. Beside the metal doors, made by Clement, that lead to the kitchen garden, there is an oak table in the Arts and Crafts style. The rush-seated Ernest Gimson-inspired chairs were made by the Warwickshire-based craftsman Lawrence Neal.

The pendulum swings back to the mid century in the small office space next to the kitchen, with its Danish rosewood desk and orange Hans J Wegner ‘Wishbone’ chair, and continues into an informal sitting room nearby, with walls in a graphic print fabric and a cheery yellow roman blind in Christopher Farr Cloth’s ‘Meander’ linen.

Up the stairs, a William Morris wallpaper is the background for a grid of framed pressed ferns. A spare room, which opens directly off the landing, is papered in Morris & Co’s vivid ‘Fruit’ pattern. ‘I’ve always loved William Morris, but I would never have dared to put those wallpapers so close together,’ says the owner.

Things are quieter in the main bedroom, where the grasscloth walls provide a calm background for a yellow sofa in the bay window and a beautiful table at the end of the bed. Its shape looks convincingly mid-century, but it was designed in the Pentreath office and made by Rupert Bevan. Concealed on the underside of the hinged tabletop – with clever springs and no trailing wires – is a television screen. The adjoining dressing room has two walls of cupboards with ikat fabric panels. It leads to a glorious bathroom, papered in Morris & Co’s ‘Willow Boughs’, with brass-framed mirrored cabinets and a brass stand for the twin sinks.

In the attic, the husband’s study has views over the red-tiled roofs of other houses of the era and reflects their colouring in its dark panelled walls. These are joined by a claret wing chair, a green sofa and an orange ottoman. ‘The husband especially wanted a dark panelled room. They both have strong tastes and are such good fun,’ says Ben. Both agree working with him has been a joy – for his efficiency, and for a home that is fascinating to look at and easy to live in. It has also introduced them to new things: they now collect, among other things, Arts and Crafts furniture, Edward Bawden paintings and Sixties glassware. It is a house with as many layers as a mille-feuille.

Ben Pentreath and his husband Charlie McCormick's triumphantly restored Dorset parsonage
  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Entrance hall

    A ‘Sussex’ bench by William Morris and a linocut by Edward Bawden stand out against the panelling, which is painted in Farrow & Ball’s ‘Shaded White’.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Entrance hall

    Near the doors to the drawing room is a Thirties table from Holly Johnson. To add texture to the hall and drawing room, Ben chose rush matting from Waveney Rush. Its handwoven and hand-sewn ‘Traditional Rush Matting’ costs from £258.21 a square metre. It needs to be sprayed with water once every four to six weeks to prevent it drying out and becoming brittle.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Living room

    In this room a ‘Nureyev’ brass bar cart from Soane contrasts with a nineteenth-century library table from Max Rollitt, the top of which is covered in a hand-dyed linen by Polly Lyster. A ‘Wardour’ sofa from The Conran Shop is covered in Soane’s ‘Old Flax’ in grey, while the pink sofa is Howard Chairs’ ‘Ivor’. Ben designed the ottoman, which is upholstered in a fabric by Claremont Furnishing. It sits on a Luke Irwin rug. Decorative mochaware cups are displayed in a line on the mantelpiece. Traditional mochaware – pottery decorated with coloured slip bands and tree-like markings – dates back to the late eighteenth century. Specialist dealer Martyn Edgell provided the mugs in this house. This pearlware mocha mug, circa 1820, is 14.6cm tall and costs £780.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Kitchen

    Ben designed the cabinets, which were made by Symm and painted in Farrow & Ball’s ‘Hague Blue’.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Kitchen

    In the dining area, a runner by Roger Oates was turned into a rug. The bespoke table was made by Christopher Clark Workshops. The chairs in the kitchen are by Lawrence Neal, who crafts chairs using rushes from local rivers. This is the ‘Ledbury’, which measures 89 x 56 x 41cm and costs from £391.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Study

    The orange ottoman in this room was designed by Ben and covered in a Pierre Frey fabric with a Samuel & Sons braid.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Dining room

    The mid-century pendant light was designed by Gaetano Sciolari for Stilnovo. There are touches of brass dotted throughout the house, not least this striking sideboard, which is a bespoke design by Rupert Bevan. It is made of American black walnut wrapped in brass, with a nano-lacquer coating to prevent oxidation. The company recently developed a smaller version of the piece, the ‘Polished Brass Cabinet’, which measures 80 x 120 x 60cm and costs from £10,560.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Main bedroom

    The greeny-brown grasscloth in this room is in the colour referred to by Ben as "freshly laid cowpat". ‘I love the richness that grasscloth brings; it has so much more depth than a flat paint,’ he says. He has used grasscloths in a number of rooms in this London house, including Altfield’s ‘Minka’ (bamboo), 91cm wide, £58 a metre, and Phillip Jeffries’ ‘Manila Hemp’ (truffle brown), 94cm wide, £44 a metre. ‘You do have to warn clients that the joins between panels are visible, but I’ve never minded the effect,’ adds Ben.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Main bedroom

    Beside a Luke Irwin rug is a sofa covered in Manuel Canovas ‘Kansas’ fabric, in the anis colourway, from Colefax and Fowler.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Dressing room

    The cupboards in this room, which leads into the main bathroom, are lined with a Robert Kime ikat.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Spare room

    Douglas Watson Studio supplied the tiles for the unusual fireplace. On the floor is an antique kilim.

  • Arts and Crafts house designed by Ben Pentreath

    Spare room

    The bedside table is from Christopher Hodsoll. In this room Ben has used the William Morris wallpaper ‘Fruit’ (lime green/tan). It is sold in 10-metre rolls and costs £73 from Style Library.