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Benedict Foley and Daniel Slowik’s cottage in the Dedham Vale | Design Notes

The designers Benedict Foley and Daniel Slowik have taken a delightful cottage on the border and Suffolk and Essex and created a charming interior based around their shared taste in collecting, their cheerful acceptance of the house’s imperfections, and an irrepressible sense of humour.

Released on 01/28/2022


I quite like coming here

and not having to have any contact

with the 21st century.

So we were going.

To put to paper, you're actually addicted to Instagram.


I do spend a lot time of time on In Instagram.

[upbeat music]

We found the house six years ago.

At that point we were in a flat in London

we needed to move out of.

It had a lot of stuff.

We thought actually a house in the country

would be a great idea

in combination with a smaller flat in London.

We didn't want anything that had been modernized.

We're not really even ever done,

but it's just more of,

I don't know,

people want you to pay more

for their bad bathrooms basically.

So we prefer something that was just,

had been left untouched

since the 60s,

which is what we found here.

This room here is what we definitely call our sitting room.

Somebody the other day,

amused me by calling it our drawing room.

It's definitely not, because it's a very small house.

We do sit in here, we entertain in here.

This is often where we have drinks before supper.

In the summer, we often eat outside

and then come in here after supper

to just sit around and chat.

People often say,

oh God, I really want to redecorate my room or whatever,

and sometimes a tiny amount of color

is something which is very important to lift it.

You can see that in the flowers, for instance,

and you got these two more ready teams here.

I was so excited about this particular frame

that I haven't put anything in it,

but I want you to see how the color looks.

And that's a great color punctuation, which ties in here,

here, here, and the green of the plants.

And actually that point

is something that's very important

composition in the room.

Particularly at night when you turn the lamp on,

that will be beautifully highlighted

by the light underneath it.

Actually, a lot of the other areas are in shade and shadow,

and you will notice that picture,

particularly when I have put something in it.

I've always got the idea of a mixture

of modern and antique fabrics.

When I worked in the antiques department at Colfax,

we liked buying pieces of antique fabric

and making them into cushions.

I've always quite enjoyed that.

It is safer as I've had four since I was a student.

It was actually given to me by Roger Jones, Colfax.

And over here at Bennison classic,

it's been on here for a long time.

The pattern is slightly faded, but I,

again, rather enjoy that.

So this is rather a really special little table.

We bought it from the contents of Drue Heinz's house

in Hayes Muse.

It was a design by John Fowler.

[upbeat music]

We really enjoyed this room immediately we walked into it.

So the original decoration of the people in Hayes.

And it has this special bright,

extraordinary color combination of blue and yellow,

which we thought was fantastic,

and have many happy hours on cooking way in here,

inventing recipes using local ingredients,

and just generally,

finding it quite relaxing after a hard day at work,

or a hard week.

I've recently rearranged this.

I felt it was time to have some more space,

and my idea was that

I was going to have plenty of space to clear the dishes too.

That is not quite what has happened,

but yeah, I'm fine with that,

because actually I think it looks charming

because there isn't this unique,

the right atmospheric conditions for artworks.

These are actually some things

which I've just started making recently,

which are using my frames.

This is actually

a slightly larger version of the serpentine,

which I just literally made this one.

I'm using them as mirrors,

because actually,

I really like the idea of a relatively small mirror

as part of a hang on the wall.

It is like a moving live picture.

Well, this is our dining room

where we do a lot of entertaining.

We enjoy it very much.

It's a good mixture of formal and informal in a way.

It's got a bit of caution as you feel in some ways.

And then we've got some grounded pieces in here as well,

which we very much like the mixture.

And the display shelves above

with some of Benedict's collection of majolica.

It feels like a garden room.

And it's in the summer, it feels gardeny,

and in the winter, it feels cozy.

And I suppose the color scheme really

came from that tension between green and white.

There's a collection of things here.

One of my favorite pieces, perversely,

and I suppose in some senses is this.

This is absolutely a disgusting piece.

It can only be described as a centerpiece

that in a way fills you with the idea of Victorian horrors.

I don't know, I mean,

what can you say about something like this?

If I thought this was a very precious thing,

very precious and important to me,

then I might've fixed it.

But you know,

actually I find for me, the imperfections of it,

a part of its charm and its story,

and I enjoy it just as it is.

[upbeat music]

Addiction is something that takes many forms.

In my particular case, it is antiques.

Collecting things became for me, I suppose,

a way of exploring and understanding the past.

And there's nothing I love more

than getting into a really jumbly shop

and digging stuff out.

And for some people they find that rather overwhelming,

but for me, the hunt for that is fantastic.

Benedict does quite a lot of the choosing

and I agree to it.

I enjoy your enthusiasm.

Well, at least I haven't gotten to collecting diamonds.

Well, that's the next stage.

[Benedict chuckles]

[upbeat music]

I came to working in art

actually through making umbrellas,

which sounds rather peculiar as a route.

But for me,

it was always an interest in how things are made.

The house has rather lots of paintings in it.

I specialize in terms of what I sell generally speaking.

And modern British say that's 20th century,

but not exclusively, some are contemporary things.

I started thinking a lot about framing,

and so I started framing little works

that I had collected over the years.

Really framing,

and things that are framed well can elevate something.

So you're not being frightened of the frame,

I think it's something that is very key as well

in terms of considering your art collection

such as a collection, maybe.

This is my bedroom,

and I always think of bedrooms being quite personal spaces

when I do house somebody.

It's a mixture of personal things

and things we've collected together.

The color we chose was Dix Blue from Farrow & Ball,

which is a great, very vibrant blue.

It works very well with pinks and reds.

This room has been on my Instagram a few times,

and people really picked up on the color.

It's picked up on with this terracottary color,

which I think works really well with it.

Headboard, which belonged to an old friend of Benedict.

And then this helmet,

the Karuna design made in Swedish wallpaper.

It's quite a full border.

The idea of borders coming back is rather exciting.

This was quite deep.

So rather perfectly suited

to actually making this Karuna for the bed.

We thought it was quite fun.

[upbeat music]

Well, this room is my bedroom.

This is where I sleep.

And it's very personal to me,

as you probably tell.


we are visiting the usual themes of collecting things,

ceramics and antiques, but also color.

I find bright colors quite invigorating.

This room is quite low ceilinged,

and again, there's not very much you can do about that.

It's quite undulating,

and so I decided to put up this fantastic border,

this paper border here.

And it's made by a company in Sweden

called Hand Printed Wallpaper.

I bought this chair in Ireland

from a place in Gray Happy near Belfast.

And I knew that this's my favorite cushion of all,

and whatever happened to baby Jane in felt work,

was going to live very happily here.

We think people want to be in a house like this

because they like the idea of spontaneity.

It's the comfort involved.

The people enjoy,

and they like being here, not feeling it's too formal.

[upbeat music]

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