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Emma Sims-Hilditch On Creating A Modern Country Interior

The British designer reveals her secrets to mastering the perennial look

Jade Bloomfield
By Jade Bloomfield, Editor
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Known for her quintessentially British approach to interiors, Emma Sims-Hilditch is the go-to designer for inviting country estates and cottages alike that embrace the beauty of the everyday and blend seamlessly with their natural surroundings. 

Believing that any home can feel warm and lived-in, regardless of age or heritage, her design studio, Sims Hilditch, focuses on natural materials, durable textures and a relaxed approach to living when designing clients’ homes. The outcome is homes that feel as though they have evolved over a lifetime, with memories associated with each piece even if they have just been newly acquired. Sims-Hilditch’s portfolio features many loyal customers for a reason; perfectly imperfect, these projects possess a homely feel that few designers can emulate. Not simply a matter of layering linens, the designers understand the soul of each property, honouring and enhancing each building to bring it to its true potential. 

Here, Emma reveals how she’s mastered her design style, what you should and shouldn’t do with a heritage property and what it means to create a home that lasts a lifetime.

Keswick Swivel Armchair
Keswick Swivel Armchair

On which homes suit the modern country look

“It is extremely satisfying to breathe new life into buildings like barns or stables that might otherwise have gone to ruin. They have been some of the most challenging, but also some of the most exciting. But there’s no reason why classic country style can’t work in an urban environment. Many of our clients specifically ask that their city home reflect country living; whether it’s a farmhouse-style kitchen or cosy lounge complete with wood burner, it’s entirely up to the owner to decide on their chosen aesthetic.”

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On choosing natural high quality materials

“Beautiful, natural materials are integral to our studio’s design ethos. By incorporating natural wood into the structure of a room, you can play with depth, dimension and, of course, complement any original features if it’s an old property. Oak is a robust and truly timeless material for making furniture, flooring and panelling, and it only gets better over time. We love using walnut for its warmth and mahogany for its depth and richness. When it comes to furnishings, natural fabrics are always our first choice. We love to make use of soft linens detailed with delicate embroidery, and heavier linens are another favourite. They are ideal for durable curtains or roman blinds, and for those who want an inviting feel throughout their home.” 

Peli Prints, Set of 6
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Peli Prints, Set of 6
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On incorporating timeless furniture

“Whether a home sits in the midst of rolling countryside or in the heart of a bustling town, always ensure the space is in harmony with its surroundings. Opt for key pieces of furniture crafted from high-quality natural materials that don’t date. These pieces have a timeless charm that informs the classic style of the modern country aesthetic.”

On supporting independent artisans

“We support independent and artisanal businesses by taking part in LuxDeco's 'Think Big Shop Small' initiative. These high-quality, bespoke brands are an important part of our design history and future, and are wonderful for sourcing items that are full of character and built to last. So, whether it’s investing in materials sourced from nature or supporting smaller artisans, designing sustainable interiors requires time, consideration, and effort. The result? A space that feels refreshingly timeless and leaves a positive footprint on our environment.”

Crackle Orb Vase, Cream
Alex McCarthy
Crackle Orb Vase, Cream

On honouring original features

“When you’re doing a renovation, it is very important to retain as much as you can of the originality of your building. Don’t try to make everything perfect because then you won’t have character in your home. I think homes are all about creating layers and layers of character and texture and that’s what makes a home feel special and alive. My own home has the most wonderful beam in it which has the most incredible patina about it, its original paint has flaked off over the last 200 years. It’s such a key focal point that we knew we had to keep it and make a feature of it."

On the importance of accessories

“Every area of the house needs to have things to look at as you walk through it, so it’s really wonderful to have these arrangements and tablescapes, things you’ve picked up over the years. It could be books, photos, things that mean something to you and then arrange them in a way that is creative.”