Creating an interior that respects the style of a building and is current, classical and comfortable are the tenets of interior designer Birdie Forescue’s design philosophy, as seen in her Georgian home in Norfolk, which she describes as a ‘red brick doll’s house’ …
“I love the variety of my work! Every day is different but it is the design of our collections that I find the most exciting,” says Birdie Fortescue who has been in the interiors industry since her early 20s, and is now synonymous with the art of slow living.
Using traditional techniques and an extensive network of artisans, Birdie designs exquisite homeware and soft furnishings from embroidered cushions to handwoven rugs, gorgeous glassware and accent pieces that are stylish and timeless – no mean feat.
Her impressive career started at Percy Bass, a renowned interiors shop in Walton Street, London and after four years she moved to Colefax & Fowler where Birdie was the principal decorator. “We worked on projects throughout the UK and US and I left after five fabulous years to start dealing in antiques. I specialised in 18th- and 20th-century European furniture exhibiting at the main antique fairs in London and also America.”
In 2014 she took on a Victorian warehouse in Burnham Market as a Norfolk base for her antiques business. “As the building was so large I decided to transform the space into an interiors destination where antique furniture could sit alongside homeware and art. In 2016 I launched my first Spring/Summer collection of block printed soft furnishings and have launched collections twice yearly ever since.”
Birdie finds inspiration on her travels – from Romania to China and Eastern Africa as well as France – deftly mixing the old with the new and dipping into folklore, the Arts & Crafts movement and baroque architecture for instance. Her designs of prints, textiles and soft furnishings are sold online, from shops in Holt and Fakenham Outlet as well as regular London pop-ups.
Creating an interior that respects the style of a building and is current, classical and comfortable are the tenets of her design philosophy, as seen in her Georgian home in Norfolk. She describes it as a red brick doll’s house with seven bedrooms.
“We bought our home in 2005 and spent five years using it during the school holidays. It had recently been restored and, as it wasn’t at this stage our full-time home, we decorated it using the existing layout. The kitchen/dining/living area was created by connecting two adjoining farm buildings with a glass atrium to make a very large light-filled space.”
“Being close to the sea, we filled it with painted informal furniture keeping it light and relaxed. When we moved there permanently, in 2010, we needed to add in our more formal Continental furniture. Therefore the house is filled with an eclectic mix of pieces which might not have happened at the outset but it has created a wonderfully relaxed and interesting look.”
“My personal style is clean and classic with a contemporary twist. I love to add in contemporary accents of colour, print and design to an otherwise traditional interior. I always look to achieve balance and harmony between traditional or contemporary polished furniture and more relaxed painted pieces to give each room character and individuality – I love to juxtapose style and periods.”
“I love the light and space of our large open plan area which houses the kitchen, dining room and sitting room. It is the centre of the house where everything happens and, if stuck in the kitchen, you don’t feel cut off! The French mid-century metalwork painted console table with marble is a favourite of mine – it has a quirky and unusual shape which is so pleasing.
The set of six painted Chinese panels were the starting point for the design of the Drawing Room. I bought them at a flea market in Paris – they are so decorative and completely make the room.”
Besides our family furniture, most pieces have been sourced from my buying trips in France. The rug in the Drawing Room from Gideon Hatch works perfectly with the Chinese panels and is a wonderful design. We commissioned both flat weave rugs in the bathroom and bedroom from Vanderhurd – they both work perfectly in the rooms and give constant pleasure!”
Of course I’ve added pieces from my own collections. Each season we launch a new collection and it is exciting to see which products our customers most love! Our painted woven rattan furniture has been very popular this season – it is so versatile and colourful. Our rugs are always popular, particularly our flat weave Ziggurat and our Darya woven rug this season.
Launching on March 8 is Birdie’s SS23 Florentine collection inspired by time spent in Florence with her daughter Lydia. Ideal for alfresco dining, it combines soft colours of cameo pinks, leafy greens and sky blues in timeless geometrics and whimsical floral designs, block-printed across cushions, lampshades and table linens. These colourful textiles balance with the collection’s new range of on trend mid-century-inspired rattan furniture. www.birdiefortescue.co.uk