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Through the Keyhole: Living off the Land: Tess’ Organic Ochre Retreat 3 November, 2009

Posted by Bethany Wrede Peterson in Bethany's blog, Through the Keyhole.
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living-room with thumbnail

This week, we feature mydeco community member Tess Heslop‘s Stratford-upon-Avon home.  The Ochre and Ochre online homewares boutique owner is obsessed with all things made from the soft clay found in iron ore, and her boutique isn’t the only the space getting the rich ochre treatment.

Tess reminds us that while often thought of as earthen yellows and terra cotta reds, ochre can also take on soft, natural grey hues, like the wall colour featured in her airy living room.  To get the natural effect, Tess used Farrow & Ball and Fired Earth paints throughout her home.

She and her husband, Paul, bought the auction plot in 2006, and self-built this beautiful five-bedroom detached house, moving in two years later in 2008.  ”Using natural materials was very important to us,’ she says.  ‘I love the living room with its big fireplace.  The huge beam fits in well with the stone and wood flooring we used throughout.’  We love how the unfussy decor of the living room lets the eye wander up to explore the architecture of the vaulted ceilings.  The chunky wood coffee table and mirror used in this room are in keeping with the sturdy oak beams which fly above, balancing the distinction between high and low.


Like so many of us, Tess wanted a kitchen that people could feel welcome in.  ‘I like being able to cook and have people around me, so the open plan kitchen is just perfect.’  The crisp white cabinetry and light-reflecting dark worktop give the kitchen a much-desired clean feel, while the rich nutty brown stain of the island and fridge paneling keep the space from appearing too sterile and unwelcoming.


Like the kitchen, Tess keeps the bathrooms looking fresh and warm by using an creamy white palette and and natural rattan storage baskets to add texture, or a more classically ochre coloured tiling paired with solid warm wood.


We love this antique sewing table Tess uses as a console – like any great antique, it brings a sense of history to this nascent home, telling a story with its presence.

Tess’ interior draws equal inspiration from nature with her placement of varietal houseplants.  Using real botanicals instead of plastic or dried imitations and strategically placing them near the windows not only keeps the plants healthy but brings a vibrant pop of colour into the otherwise calm spaces.  While colour trends come and go, Tess’ home shows us that getting back to nature with muted tones can be immutably chic.


Love Tess’ home? We’ve found key pieces from this designer’s style for you to steal.  Click on the moodboard to view selected products.


Moodboard: Bethany Wrede Peterson

Want to know more about Tess’ natural abode?  Read House Beautiful‘s article here.

Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear your thoughts on Tess Heslop’s style and our new Through the Keyhole feature.  Just add your comments below.

Think your home has the panache to be spotted through the keyhole? Send us the dish on your digs along with your best home snaps to editors@mydeco.com and your pride-and-joy may be spied next!



1. Collyn - 3 November, 2009

Great write-up on a great space… love the greys, especially in the bedroom!

2. Nicola Wilkes - 5 November, 2009

Love your home Tess! Wonderful example of self-build!

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