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Making a house a home with Sims Hilditch

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Sims Hilditch is an award-winning, multidisciplinary interior design practice specialising in interior architecture and interior design. Its founder Emma Sims-Hilditch began her career working in film production for Ridley Scott in London, before relocating to Wiltshire with her husband nearly 20 years ago where she started making curtains from her kitchen table. This eventually grew into Sims Hilditch interior design, which now operates from a listed former coaching inn in the Cotswolds, which Emma renovated in the signature Sims Hilditch style with the help of her design team. Sims Hilditch currently undertakes projects in the city and country across the UK and further afield.


Talk us through your design process

We encourage our clients to have as much input as possible in the design process. Our ultimate aim is to create an interior that our clients can feel at home in, so the more information we can gather about their likes and dislikes, needs and requirements, the better. We ask our clients to fill out a detailed questionnaire at the initial stage of the process, and use this information along with details taken from respective meetings in person and via Zoom to put together an initial concept.

In one case, we were able to determine a colour palette for our client’s home based on the ink they used to complete the questionnaire! Colour schemes can be inspired by an existing piece of artwork that our client particularly likes, or even the terracotta tiles on the floor of an entrance hall, as was the case in our Malvern Family Home project. We also ask our clients to share any design inspiration that they have accumulated via Pinterest to help us spot any common themes or patterns emerging that might be suitable for their home.

What would be your biggest tip when choosing an interior designer to work with?

When choosing an interior designer, its’s important to make sure they are a good fit. When starting a project with our clients we make it a priority to understand their individual needs and way of living, which stands us in good stead to design an interior which works well for them.

If you don’t feel that your interior designer has a good understanding of this, then perhaps they are not for you. At Sims Hilditch, we recommend making initial contact early with the details of your project to help us to build the right team to meet your requirements. We sometimes work with contractors or architects who assist with plans and external changes to the property when required.

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Which pieces in a home are worth investing in?

A comfortable bed is a must have in the home. We often use Hypnos beds who work by Royal appointment and have been handmade in England for the last 100 years. We also recommend investing in a quality sofa and kitchen/dining room table.

These pieces tend to be integral to the rooms where families spend most of their time, so should be made with quality materials and expert workmanship. Emma has a wonderful pine table in her Wiltshire home that she bought nearly 30 years ago, and a beautiful George Smith sofa that has been in her family for generations. Creating interiors for posterity is something that is at the heart of the Sims Hilditch ethos, and something our clients are taking an increasing interest in.

Tell us about a recent project

We recently completed a Grade I Regency Townhouse in the heart of Bath. The aim of the project was to create an interior which was sensitive to the building’s heritage and beautiful surroundings, yet suitable for modern living. We used a combination of contemporary furniture and furnishings and an elegant colour palette of greys and pinks, with accents of deep blue to create an element of drama.

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What interior trends can you foresee for 2021/2022?

At Sims Hilditch we create timeless, elegant interiors which are designed to last, so with this in mind we tend not to follow ‘trends’ perse. However, we have seen an uplift in clients investing in high quality furniture and furnishings that will stand the test of time so they can be passed on to future generations, and we expect this to continue in the coming years.

What do you think makes a house a home?

While we love to source new and exciting pieces for a client’s home, we also make a point of incorporating any existing pieces into the design where possible. One particular client had a wonderful range of family portraits going back generations, which gave the interior a wonderful character and history. An interior should be designed with the people living there in mind. For instance, if the property has great historic value, the interior should be designed sympathetically to reflect this, while also being suitable for modern living.

Can you share a few favourite independent interiors brands?

Marlborough Tiles for tiles and and Looking Glass of Bath for mirrors.

What are your interior pet peeves or style no-nos?

We try to avoid an overuse of animal print and neon in our interiors, Instead, we opt for a more classic aesthetic, often with a contemporary twist.

Favourite colour?

The classic Sims Hilditch green-ish grey reflected on the exterior paintwork and railing at our studio is a favourite of ours. This is RAL Pebble Grey.

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

Nature and a property’s natural surroundings are a great source of inspiration for us and is something we always consider in our designs. For one of our projects in the Scottish Highlands, we used the greens and ochres from the surrounding trees and foliage to inform the colour palette for the home, and we used plenty of natural materials, including oak for the flooring.

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What are your tips for successfully blending old and new?

We often incorporate a blend of more traditional and contemporary furniture into an interior to add interest and contrast. We also love to source antiques for our clients’ homes, including artwork, mirrors and furniture. In a recent project we even converted an antique commode into a beautiful washbasin for a cloakroom.

Gustavian style furniture and antiques look particularly striking when paired with the sharp lines of Crittall doors, a metal coffee table or light fixture, and work well in a city or country home. It’s important to remember that old buildings can be sympathetically modernised to work well for modern living. This might include sensitively reconfiguring the layout of a narrow Victorian townhouse, or even excavating a basement to create more space.

Which interiors do you admire?

Hotels provide much inspiration in terms of interior design, and indeed Emma’s own Wiltshire home is inspired by Provencal design reminiscent of a hotel she stayed at in the region.

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What should people consider when revamping a room?

One of the first things we do when planning an interior is consider how the space could be best utilised. This might require the reconfiguration of a home’s layout and some interior architectural work to increase the amount of storage available. Storage is a key consideration for most of our clients, particularly in the bedrooms, kitchen and utility/boot rooms. We devise intelligent storage solutions to make the most of the space, building shelving into awkward corners and recessing it into walls, creating hidden cupboards under the stairs and under bench seating, among other innovative solutions.

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