My Style Story: Sarah Beeny on decorating faux pas and living in the country

The property guru and TV presenter talks to H&A about feats of engineering, decorating faux pas and the wonder of living in the country

Sarah Beeny

We recently moved to Somerset and currently live in a farmhouse with fake stone cladding. It’s pretty utilitarian and functional – we’re about to start the build of a new house.

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What made me fall in love with the house was its position. The sunsets and sunrises are beautiful, the views are amazing and there is a tinkling stream to play in. It is also less than two hours from London so I can get up and down to meetings very easily.

When designing a room I always start with its function. You need to examine how you are going to use a space before you begin. Then you have to work out the furniture and sockets you need to enable you to do that function easily. Only then should you consider the decor.

My decorating tastes haven’t really changed over the years, though I think I get braver with age, or perhaps it’s experience. You have to be daring or you tend to end up with bland and boring.

My favourite room to decorate is the downstairs loo, because it’s quick and you can go totally mad in a small space.

I’ve had loads of decorating disasters! But that’s how you learn. I discovered years ago that you can paint a room dark red, but it’s the other colours in there that’s the difference between a room that looks like a womb, or a luscious rich and exotically decadent living space.

We have lots of really old pieces including a 15th-century chair that I love. I enjoy collecting cartoons; they’re lovely things and make me laugh.

I discovered years ago that you can paint a room dark red, but it’s the other colours in there that’s the difference

Having a craft that is exceptional to you is such a totally amazing thing. My husband, Graham Swift, is an artist and I admire his work because there’s no way anyone else could do what he does.

The skill I would really like to be better at is dressing and arranging spaces. It’s much harder than you’d think and comes very naturally to some people.

The newest thing in my home is a bronze radiator from Rointe. It took literally three minutes to fit, it works brilliantly and looks super-duper cool.

The interiors brand on my radar is Ashley Wilde. I’ve recently used some of its velvet and it is really fabulous.

The interiors shop I couldn’t live without is The Painthouse in Battersea.

The trend I’m glad to see the back of is lilac walls. When cerise came back for the second time in my life I was quite glad to see that come and go too!

The trend I think will be big in the near future is the ‘off blacks’ that are around now. They have so much further to go and are really exciting.

My favourite UK landmark is the Humber Bridge in Yorkshire. It’s a feat of engineering and so beautiful from every angle.

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I don’t have many free days but spending it anywhere in the countryside, ideally with friends and family, is perfect for me.