14th December 2022
By Sophie Rowell
Sophie Rowell runs Cote de Folk with her right-hand woman Daisy Frost. I think she is one hell of a talent. Her use of space, colour and texture combines to make some interiors magic. I am not the only person who thinks so. This year she was one of House & Garden's Rising Stars. A title well deserved. I feel honoured to have her home featured on Tat.
In 2014 I left Hackney, my home of 25 years, kicking and screaming, and moved to Folkestone. The adjustment was real! But now, I wouldn't change it for the world.
Living by the sea changes everything.
The second property we bought here is where I now live with my 11-year-old son. It's a listed four-storey Georgian Townhouse with sea views from every floor. It was the Captain's house back in the day and is located in the conservation area of Folkestone. Surrounded by cobbled streets, a tiny pub and candy-coloured neighbours, it's very quaint.
The house was a complete wreck when we bought it, and we overhauled the whole place. It needed a new roof, electrics and plumbing. We replaced rotting beams with steel ones. Every ceiling and wall was replaced, and every floor was relaid.
I did it with two builders in just 18 weeks. We achieved it all on an intensely strict budget, and when I think back now, it doesn't even seem possible, but it's true. At the time, it's safe to say my builders hated me - I used to put up signs every week of the date they had to be done by, but thankfully we're now firm friends and often work on projects together. It was a highly stressful time, but the project, my third, ignited the interiors bug in me. It helped me to believe that there could be, even in my forties, a brand new career path for me.
One of my favourite rooms is the sitting room, located on the first floor amongst the trees; I've always loved having a formal sitting room up a floor, and our London home had the same.
While the house was being renovated, the raw plaster walls were everywhere. As one room dried, another was underway. Seeing this beautifully authentic pink colour everywhere made me decide to keep the sitting room walls and ceiling in bare plaster. As this wasn't a decision at the beginning of the project, there wasn't the care that may have been taken if it had been. But to me, the splash marks and inconsistencies all make for a more interesting room. I couldn't find a paint colour to match the 'setting plaster', so I made my own, seen on the woodwork.
The pink backdrop then set the scene for my bespoke stripy sofa. The starting point for this was a vintage silk kimono belt given to me by a friend. This makes up the bottom panel of the sofa and sits alongside seven different striped fabrics: some new, some old. The sofa itself was a Facebook Market Place find for £250 and is the comfiest thing EVER. It's such a beast it had to come through the window!
The lower ground floor has just finished having a rehaul. Despite the project starting in March 2022, it has only just been completed (yes, even we pros can get stung by builders!)
The IKEA kitchen I originally put in was always temporary, but here we are six years on! I worked with a carpenter to create new door fronts, an on-counter cupboard and a bespoke cupboard to hide the fridge. We removed the existing island to create a second, less formal seating area on this floor. The sink, worktops and cupboard carcasses are all the same as before. The lilac on-counter cupboard creates storage for everything that once lived on the island with space-saving pivot sliding doors. The kitchen floor is a beautiful parquet reclaimed from an old post office in Kent. This room was a great opportunity for me to add more colour to the house. I adore my plum brown cabinetry and lilac highlights.
The hallway is one of my favourite colours - Caddie by Paint and Paper Library. It's a warm toffee, caramel colour which sinks into the woodwork and exposed brick wall. A feature which runs from the top of the house to the bottom along the left-hand side of the house.
For my son Kyd's room, he asked for turquoise walls. Not a colour I'd ever been requested to use before, but I took his challenge on and used Pickleson Paint for the first time here. Artichoke Blue is on the walls, and Tarte Tan, a toffee-toned colour, is on the woodwork to help it sit with the rest of the house. Forever a fan of vintage fabrics, a Kantha imported from India and Hungarian sacking made into his blind.
Our Guest Room is in the basement. These lovely walnut headboards were another Facebook Marketplace find I made over lockdown. The wall lights were found at Ardingly years back and have followed us here from Hackney. As there wasn't any hardwiring in this room, I had my electrician fashion them into plug-in lights instead.
My bedroom is my sanctuary with its fantastic views to France! I'm very good at relaxing and this is where I do it! As the roof had to come off anyway and be replaced, I decided to get rid of the loft space and take my bedroom ceiling up to the rafters. Creating a much more spacious feeling in the room. Once again, I used more antique fabrics to create simple blinds and my love for antique bedding.
Photo Credits - Charlotte Bland Kane Hulse and Rachel Whiting