House Tour: EKBB Editor’s Country Sanctuary

Call us nosey, but we’re never ones to turn down the offer of a house tour. We like to view it as a wealth of free inspiration, a chance to see something in action before trying it in your home, Pinterest in real life.

So when EKBB magazine editor and long-time Anthropologie fan Ciara Elliott offered to throw her doors open to us, our answer was a resounding ‘yes’.

We had a hunch that Ciara’s house would be an invaluable lesson in interior dos and it didn’t disappoint. Join us as she shows us around her Georgian countryside retreat and shares the décor hints and tips she’s learnt along the way.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I live in Essex with my two children—Edie, eight and Astrid, six—and my partner Ben. We’re celebrating our tenth anniversary this September and we are going to tie the knot next year in the garden, once the house is sorted.

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How long have you lived at The Red House?

We bought The Red House last year and since then we have been gradually patching it up and getting it into shape. We did a big job on it before we moved in – new boiler, new roof, new heating, electrics (all the boring stuff!)—so now we’re starting to have fun.

The house was owned by an artist and his wife who had lived there for forty years, so we feel so lucky to have won the house at auction. It feels like fate! Soon there will be a blue plaque outside with his name—Peter Coker—on it.

He was really into the garden which he landscaped in a French style – lily pond, lavender etc. – all very Monet.  I would love to buy one of his original paintings of the house and garden. Maybe one day!

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Have you always lived in the countryside?

I am originally from Dublin and am the least country-fied person you could meet. I didn’t even own wellies until we moved here four years ago.

All that said, this was a brilliant move. I have the most beautiful commute to work across rolling fields and scudding clouds, and we get to spend weekends by the beach.

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How would you define your décor style? As Editor of EKBB you must be surrounded by inspiration every day…

Well…that’s where the difficulty comes in. I have too much choice in my job and I change my style all the time.

In the main, I am always drawn to beautiful shapes, sculpture and artwork, and I physically couldn’t live without colour, embellishment and pictures everywhere.

I really love handmade objects and artwork generally—more handcrafted, less upcycyled.

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What’s the favourite element of your home?

Definitely the giant windows and high ceilings. The symmetry of the Georgian architecture. The kids love to play with the original maid’s bells which are still part of the house too, so these make the cut too.

It’s hard to whittle it down to just those two areas though. Growing up in Dublin I was always surrounded by lots of big old squares and giant Georgian town houses and I love the symmetry of Georgian architecture, so finding these elements in a farm house and on this scale was magical.

Red House was built in 1800 when the road outside wasn’t here and there was lots of land around it and I often find myself musing about what it was like then and what the people who lived here were like.

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Your house is full of beautiful little moments—clusters of vases, panelled mirrors—have these organically happened or were they styled? 

A mixture of both. I am always messing with things to create these little moments—it all depends on my mood. It looks like this now but it will probably look completely different next week! It is always a work in progress…

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What are the most invaluable home styling tips you’ve learnt, both as an interiors editor and as chief stylist of your own home?

It is all about light – and harnessing all of the natural light that you can. Whether buying, refurbishing or styling up a home, you have to find the light and play to it.

If you don’t have lots of natural light don’t panic though as this is quite exciting too. You get to play with lighting fixtures and where to put them. I am all about no overhead lights and lots of pools of lights in different corners of the room. So a chair with a reading light overhead, for instance or a table with hanging pendants, defining that space. I also love floor lamps and exposed bulbs.

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Generally when it comes to décor though I am a big fan of painting walls in neutrals. At the moment I like light greys and blues and coral pinks and then adding colour and interest with bits you build up over time.

A home is about who you are and what you do. It’s fun reading and pinning and looking for inspiration in mags and online and on Instagram, but it needs that personal touch.

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You have little ones. Does this impact your home styling decisions?

Yes! We recently painted the hallway in a light duck egg blue and already their little paws are leaving their marks. Also I put a white carpet in their bedroom which was a big mistake (I refused to listen to my mother on this one).

At the same time I love that kids come with no pre-conceived notions of what is and what is not ‘tasteful’ – it means you can have lots of fun with their ideas and really make their rooms original.

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Photography by Malcolm Menzies; photo styling by Kay Prestney

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