“I love looking around the antiques and bric a brac stores in Lewes and a big favourite is ‘Three Angels’ in Hove,” radio and TV presenter Zoe Ball confesses in the latest chat of our At Home with series, in which much-loved designers, stylists, influencers, and celebrities invite us inside their fabulous homes. “I’m incredibly inspired by Morris & co, alongside the Arts and Crafts movement, but also the mixture of old and new.”
So it’s perhaps no surprise that Zoe’s home is full of classic designs with a contemporary twist. From neon sculptural candlesticks to bold velvet traditional button back chairs, the hundred-year-old property in the Mid-Sussex countryside is the perfect setting for Zoe’s modern take of Morris-inspired interior design. “Not long before redecorating I’d visited Standen House and been blown away by William Morris decor. The rooms, though not Arts and Crafts era, did remind me of that style, so we’ve worked with Morris & Co on decoration,” says Zoe.
“I love the Morris curtains and wallpaper. To be honest, I saw some of the materials but was never brave to put them all together – it was the team at Morris who helped me. Although of course, it was Giles and Mary on Gogglebox who first inspired me with their Morris willow bough wallpaper and matching chair covering! They are fabulous interior influencers.”
The highly ornate patterns of Zoe’s living room and hallway wallpaper are beautifully paired with primary-colour pieces to create a space full of depth and “cosyluxe” – a moniker invented by Zoe’s friend Tess. “I really do love our lounge. We have an open fire and our big lush sofa.com sofas, you can be truly snug in there even if it’s just you and Wilbur the Cat with the fire on watching Monty Don on Gardeners World or with the whole family, the kids and their friends. It’s a really gorgeous room. Lush long curtains and plush velvet sofas. Teddy is a great modern shape but deep seated for all the family to clamber on. It’s always full of family for fireside hugs, with or without a very fluffy cat Wilbur and is perfect for movie night. It feels like luxury and definitely my favourite place to be,” says Zoe.
A relative newcomer when it comes to colourful interiors, Zoe’s choice of the Ernest armchair in Claret was actually inspired by her love of cinema. “I’m a complete movie buff, all around the house there are movie posters and soundtracks that I collect, so I loved the cinema seat inspiration of the Claret fabric on Ernest (also obsessed with Ernest Hemingway so the name caught my eye immediately!),” Zoe says.
“Ernest is in the corner of the lounge so it’s perfect for some quiet reading and observing the birds on the bird table just outside the window. The smaller kids love the fact that it swings round too, they sometimes have stories on that chair.”
Finding inspiration to inject joyous colours into her home post-lockdown, Zoe explains, “I used to be a tad safe with colour, often beige or greys but recently have embraced rich lush colours and wallpapers and a wilder look. Our lives have definitely needed some colour after a long lockdown so it’s good to just go for it! I think watching programmes like Design Masters with Alan Carr and Your Home Made Perfect with Angela Scanlon has given me lots of inspiration and of course the sofa.com blog. I’m proud of myself for being braver.”
Continuing her love affair with moving pictures, Zoe completes her look with a movie poster from Pierre Armand’s 1964 feature film Paris-Champagne. “I saw the Parisian dancing ladies in a shop window on the Kings Road every morning on my way to work during lockdown – I fell so in love with them, who doesn’t love a dancing lady? I now have a fabulous Brigette Bardot picture in the hallway (opposite Poppy) and a Grace Kelly and Cary Grant picture in the lounge. It’s all coming together wonderfully.”
With her busy work schedule for BBC Radio 2 and her two children, making sure her home is as practical as it is beautiful is also key for Zoe. “It’s a busy house, lots of kids and pets, and we often have guests staying. To make our home work for our lifestyle, it’s got to be family and pet friendly all the while keeping it cosyluxe and bringing those contemporary elements into quite an antiquated space.”
“We’ve just started turning the kitchen and dining room into one space as it’s a place we spend a lot of time. and kitchens are so social. But there are snug rooms to escape to, and spaces to work from home, as so many are these days. Poppy sits in a great little spot under the stairs in the hallway, perfect for slumping in when you come in the door and need a minute. It’s also the perfect seat for when we need to squeeze more folks in the lounge – easy to get in and out of for the grandparents!”
Feeling inspired? Check out these other stunning homes here.