See Inside Designer Amanda Pratt's Victorian Home - The Gloss Magazine
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See Inside Designer Amanda Pratt’s Victorian Home

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Designer Amanda Pratt is at home with beauty and balance and is a strong believer in what they can do for the soul …

Designer Amanda Pratt believes that beautiful spaces are good for the soul. “I think beauty, visual balance and colour have an amazing effect on the spirit,” she says, “being surrounded by things you consider beautiful or are useful to you, or perhaps make you smile because of a memory, is spirit-enhancing too.”

The Victorian villa that she has lived in with her family for more than 20 years is typical of the period, with high ceilings and elaborate plasterwork, marble fireplaces and a basement above ground level with huge windows so that every room is full of light. A flight of steps leads to the front door and recently, a new kitchen and dining area was added to better embrace the lovely rear garden.

Back in 1840, the house might have been full of clutter, paintings, furniture and drapes. Now, with Amanda’s style as the main influence, the most is made of its light, with colourful objects she has collected, designed or made, things that have a story and mean something, catching the eye against the restrained and neutral backdrop.

One of six members of the Pratt family who owned Avoca, the handweaving mill bought by her parents Hilary and Donald in 1974, and which became the iconic Irish brand (acquired by Aramark in 2014) Amanda’s role in the operation was always a creative one. She designed Avoca’s fashion and product lines, worked with makers to develop everything from scarves and socks to sweaters and pottery, candles and homewares. As buyer, she spotted and sourced products from all over the world and gave Avoca its unique look and feel. In carrying out her role, Amanda brought her philosophy about space and its relationship with spirit to Avoca stores. Her departure from the company after 28 years, a year before the family sold, was she says, both a shock to the system, and an opportunity.

Soon after she left, the Buccleuch family came calling. As the biggest landowners in Europe, with four stately homes (Boughton, Bowhill, Drumlanrig Castle and Dalkeith Palace), the family wanted to develop the 18th-century stable yard at Dalkeith Palace near Edinburgh into a retail, wellbeing and café operation (now known as Restoration Yard), in the 1,000-acre park. “It was the extraordinary richness associated with the history of the family and their houses that I found fascinating. Inspiration was everywhere – from the architecture, art collections, objects and books, to wallpapers and fabrics in their great houses, as well as the family stories and Richard and Damian’s kindness and trust in me,” says Amanda.

Honouring our ancestors as a reference for creativity is one approach, another is experimentation – something she has been doing all her life and continues to do today. “You need to give yourself permission to play as a child would, with no judgment, no rules, and enjoy your own ability to put something together, then enjoy using it or wearing it.”

Then, there’s her interest in a sustainable planet. She rules out plastic: “You know the story. Every single plastic toothbrush that ever existed still exists in landfill. Too often we don’t deeply consider the consequences of what we do.” She also believes that as more and more people no longer have any contact with the habit of making anything – even a garden or a meal – that this has an adverse effect on mental health. “The resurgence in cooking and gardening is great because these are areas where people are making new things with their hands.”

As well as painting, making pottery, and learning to make jewellery (“it’s a good discipline”), Amanda is sowing the seeds of a new enterprise which she has been musing about for a while. “I’m a bit old to start again but it seems inevitable.” Now that will be a good story.

Photographs by Simon Watson

Among the objects in the drawing room is Amanda’s Bangalore-born great-grandmother Maude’s wedding jacket, c1870. On the mantelpiece is a piece of Staffordshire pottery which depicts Ireland and Great Britain shaking hands across the sea beneath an Angel of Peace, produced to commemorate the signing of the Kilmainham Peace Treaty in 1882, and a pair of antique rose quartz Japanese cherry blossoms. 

The sofa in the home office is a favourite spot for Yumi and Tenzing who, according to their owner, are unable to read.

Designer Amanda Pratt.

The kitchen’s dining area has multiple sets of french doors, their proportions matched to the original casement windows upstairs. The pendant lampshade is by Matthew Challières. The green Rescue Glass vases are made by Amanda’s brother Stephen from recycled wine and water bottles.

A view through from the original kitchen to the new, now divided by a black wooden screen. The new kitchen and dining area was added to better embrace the lovely rear garden. The tripod lamp is designed to hold postcards or drawings in the lampshade.

In the home office, the Shine On fluoro sign was commissioned for Amanda by her husband, Tom. The chairs are from Senegal; the restored midcentury modern velvet stool by Kirk Modern.

In the living area, a pair of club sofas, upholstered in green velvet, were made to order. The linen-print cushions were designed by Amanda to feature art from the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch, her client in Scotland.

The sitting room with antique French gilded table.

A trompe l’oeil Empire-style folding chair and vintage metal table in a downstairs bathroom.

Among the objects in the drawing room is Amanda’s Bangalore-born great-grandmother Maude’s wedding jacket, c1870. On the mantelpiece is a piece of Staffordshire pottery which depicts Ireland and Great Britain shaking hands across the sea beneath an Angel of Peace, produced to commemorate the signing of the Kilmainham Peace Treaty in 1882, and a pair of antique rose quartz Japanese cherry blossoms. The mirrored gilded sconce is one of a pair, and the 18th-century portrait of John Philip Kemble was left to Amanda by her late uncle Sandy Pratt who lived in Ibiza. Amanda uses the antique Chinese box on the table as a sewing box. The taxidermy crane (“I don’t normally approve of taxidermy but I felt he needed to be rescued”) was found at The Store Yard, Portlaoise.

The sofa in the home office is a favourite spot for Yumi and Tenzing who, according to their owner, are unable to read.

Designer Amanda Pratt.

The kitchen’s dining area, with zinc-topped table, has multiple sets of french doors, their proportions matched to the original casement windows upstairs. The pendant lampshade is by Matthew Challières. A small Swedish mirror hangs over the fold-up table which holds a handblown “bubble” light from Aleppo, Syria. The green Rescue Glass vases are made by Amanda’s brother Stephen from recycled wine and water bottles.

A view through from the original kitchen to the new, now divided by a black wooden screen. The tripod lamp is designed to hold postcards or drawings in the lampshade.

In the home office, the Shine On fluoro sign was commissioned for Amanda by her husband, Tom. The chairs are from Senegal; the restored midcentury modern velvet stool by Kirk Modern.

In the living area, a pair of club sofas, upholstered in green velvet, were made to order. The linen-print cushions were designed by Amanda to feature art from the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch, her client in Scotland.

The sitting room with antique French gilded table.

A trompe l’oeil Empire-style folding chair and vintage metal table in a downstairs bathroom.

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