a country home – paula sutton and hill house in england

by Sharon Santoni

country house lit up at night

Today sees the start of a new series here, focussing on country homes of bloggers and instagramers around the world, and I  am introducing you to Paula Sutton, along with her beautiful country home, Hill House in the English countryside.

Paula has a gorgeous eye for interiors and creating a sense of home and I love following along on both her blog and Instagram. It’s not really a surprise as the mother of 3 comes out of the glamorous world of press and model management at Elite when Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington were at the top.

She moved from London to raise her children in the countryside and focus on family as well as her passion for interiors and antiques in a lovely country home. As you can see, her eye for beauty is everywhere.

I had the chance to ask her a few questions about her country home and style.

Tell us a little bit about the character of your home.
Hill House is a Georgian property built in 1822 for the ‘Maltings Master’ of a local brewery.  It is a typically Georgian country home – very symmetrical and very square, with large sash windows, high ceilings and well proportioned rooms.  It sits in the middle of around an acre of garden filled with mature trees such as copper beech, oak, pine, holly and apple. The majority of the garden is laid to lawn with box hedging adding elegant structure and a magnificent 14 foot high mature yew hedge with a ‘secret’ central walkway through it opening up into additional garden ‘rooms’.

How did you ‘meet’ your house?
My husband and I were living very hectic lives in the media industry in London, with three small children being raised in a very urban environment.  We had actually married in Norfolk not far from Hill House, as my parents- in-law had owned a Georgian farmhouse there, and we would always reminisce about how magical our country visits, especially around Christmas time, had been.  The area is very rural and not very built up, and provided a very old fashioned image of family living whilst still being in easy reach of London for my husbands work.  When we spotted Hill House with it’s dolls house like facade, we were instantly enamoured!
What started off as a typical “What If” Sunday afternoon dream, turned into reality very quickly, and I ended up leaving my career in fashion, moving out of London – where I was born and had lived all my life – and enrolling the children into a tiny village school within a matter of months!

lady and dog in front of house

Who do you share your home with?
I live at hill house with Duncan, my husband, my 15 year old son and 13 year old twin daughters.  Not forgetting our 3 year old Labrador / Doberman cross – Coco, and Moto Moto the escape artist hamster!

What is your favourite room or space?
My favourite room has to be our ‘Family Room’. It’s a large open plan living space at the back of the house, which has a more relaxed and contemporary feel than the more traditionally formal rooms at the front.  It is light filled and airy and features an informal second dining area, sitting room and garden room.  Divided off this light filled area by a large contemporary glass screen is my kitchen and pantry.  The glass serves to keep the kitchen light and to bring it into the rest of the area, so I can be fussing around the kitchen whilst still engaging in conversation with the children whilst they eat or watch television.

dining table with bay window

How would you describe your style in decorating?
I’m very lucky as I have the best of both worlds to experiment in – the more formal Georgian drawing room and dining rooms in the front, and the relaxed and comfortable family area in the back.  Both areas have the underlying themes of painted and antique furniture, vintage accessories and decorative antique items, and are an equal mixture of English country house style with a bit of French country thrown in.  For example I have three, painted antique Fench armoires around the house filled with beautiful plain white French and Scandinavian tureen or soupieres  and continental linens, but I also have a typically English kitchen dresser filled with cheerful and colourful pottery.  Similarly,  I am a cushion addict, and they range from those covered in grain sacks and faded ticking which work well with the French vintage look, to flowery chintz and check which is very Downtom Abbey / English country. I am all about the vintage style country mix, and my original Victorian Chesterfield sofas – which are very serious and English – work perfectly with my more frivolous and decorative painted tables.

red sofa in front of window with lamps

What does ‘country home’ mean to you?
To me a county home, is a place of peace, comfort and non pretension. It should be welcoming, warm, cosy and not too ‘precious’. Comfortably Overstuffed sofas, lots of cushions, piles of blankets, flowers everywhere, and the outside overlapping with inside.  I cannot take myself or my home too seriously when I spend most of my life wearing Wellington boots and my dog leaves hair all over the furniture – and surely every country home needs a dog or cat – or so Coco tells me!

Favourite season at home and how do you celebrate?
Well, I absolutely adore Autumn and the log fires and cosy evening that it brings, but I must admit that Christmas is my favourite time of the year.  A Georgian house and the Christmas season go hand in hand visually.  When I think of film adaptations of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens novels I always imagine them with a Georgian or in the case of Dickens, an early Victorian backdrop.  Period properties such as Hill House look charming in the snow, and with twinkling Christmas trees visible through the windows.  It’s all very traditional and geared towards entertaining family and friends.  The banisters and doors covered in holly and foliage from the garden, Mulled wine on tap, mince pies, mistletoe and Carol singing around the piano, and twinkly fairy lights everywhere – even on the topiary trees outside.

hallway with lights

Any special tips for creating the feeling of “Home”?
I fill my home home with things that I love and l don’t follow trends.  I spent a career in fashion thinking about trends and you always end up chasing your tail, jumping from one thing to another, and rarely feeling settled. If a trend makes you happy, then certainly, buy into it, but if not, don’t follow the style of others just for the sake of it.
As William Morris once said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” and I think that that is the key.  The important thing is that YOU believe it to be beautiful.  If you do, then it will also make you happy, and a happy house is a comfortable one and feels like Home.

table laid in front of house

Thank you Paula for sharing your home with us.

I f you want to see more pop over to Paula’s instagram page

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30 comments

Taste of France October 20, 2016 - 10:32 am

This is just beautiful. Classic but not stuffy. It feels like a home and not a staged set. Authentic.
Thank you for putting me onto her Instagram, too.

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Our French Oasis October 20, 2016 - 11:34 am

I have followed her for ages on Instagram so this was such a pleasure to see. But wow did it make me homesick! It transported me straight back to England and my childhood. This is exactly how a home should be for me, really warm and inviting. There is nothing better than welcoming friends and I want them to feel totally relaxed, not on show, I want them to feel they never want to leave.

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Ali October 20, 2016 - 9:46 pm

Susan, you are a master/mistress at making people feel welcome..

Ali

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Petra Matthew October 20, 2016 - 11:44 am

Lovely home! And what a great idea to do a serie about English homes. I love England and always when I walk by those little cute cottages, I wish I could take a look inside. So hopefully you have one to show us?

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allan munn October 20, 2016 - 12:04 pm

Thank you Sharon I enjoyed the article and the photos. This house really said ‘home’ to me.

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Nancy Barr October 20, 2016 - 12:04 pm

Lovely. I could live there!

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Karen T. October 20, 2016 - 12:45 pm

What a warm, cozy, inviting home! I love it!

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Vicky from Athens October 20, 2016 - 1:14 pm

Sharon – thanks for taking us along on your visit to Hill House. Such a lovely home. No pretense, just comfort, simplicity and beauty.

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federica October 20, 2016 - 1:15 pm

Nice article and beautiful house!

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Lorrie October 20, 2016 - 3:38 pm

Really lovely. I enjoyed seeing the way she mixes styles to create the home that reflects her and her family.

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Sharon Crigger-Stokan October 20, 2016 - 3:46 pm

I really enjoyed this article and hearing from your fellow blogger. She has a lovely home!

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Rebecca October 20, 2016 - 4:09 pm

Lovely home! Sadly, she hasn’t posted anything on her blog since July.

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Paula Sutton October 20, 2016 - 11:40 pm

I know – I’m so sorry! I’ve been so caught up with posting little stories and videos on Instagram that I have neglected the blog for a while, but I promise to amend that soon! Best wishes, Paula xxx

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Florence Brown October 20, 2016 - 4:11 pm

I was trying to remember the author of the quote by William Morris. Now I know. I am going to have the quote done in calligraphy and framed and hung in my house. Hopefully visitors to my house will take note and rid their homes of useless “stuff.”

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Dottie Monta October 20, 2016 - 4:33 pm

You seem to know just what we’d like to see and read about, Sharon!
To accompany My Stylish French Girlfriends, we now have a digital My Stylish Girlfriends Around the World!
Bravo!

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cindy davis October 20, 2016 - 4:35 pm

beautiful

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Pamela October 20, 2016 - 5:25 pm

Her house is very pretty and inviting.

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Emm October 20, 2016 - 6:06 pm

What a beautiful house, classic and inviting, in a beautiful part of the country. And, curiously enough, the façade reminds me of a certain French country house in Normandy.

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Marian from England October 20, 2016 - 6:18 pm

Paula is a girl after my own heart! An excellent idea to share other country homes worldwide. Looking forward to the others!

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Pam October 20, 2016 - 6:20 pm

Oh my what a lovely treat, such a beautiful, comfortable home. Thank you so much.

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Melinda October 20, 2016 - 7:07 pm

These rooms are so comforting. Thank you, Paula, and thank you, Sharon:)

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Darina October 20, 2016 - 8:40 pm

What a wonderful house! And I love Paula’s style of decorating

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Paula Sutton October 20, 2016 - 11:36 pm

Thank you so much Sharon for inviting me on to your beautiful blog! I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy at the kind response from your loyal readers to my home, it really has been a pleasure to read all of the comments. Best wishes and thanks to you all! Paula x

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Colleen Taylor October 21, 2016 - 7:19 am

Absolutely charming Sharon! I love this place. I could see myself sit down on that cozy red sofa between all the pillows & peruse the gorgeous coffee table books. Lovely!

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marie ballon October 21, 2016 - 10:15 am

Love your home, love Hill House. Both seem habited by the same peaceful, harmonious soul. Congratulations on your home and thank You for the beautiful, inspirational finds you share with us, readers. All the best. Marie from Br.

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Ellen October 21, 2016 - 7:09 pm

Paula’s home is gorgeous yet comfortable, everything a home should be. Yet what jumped out at me? The Eat Drink Nap book. 🙂

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sheri October 21, 2016 - 11:03 pm

This is going to be fun & interesting. Thank you Sharon!

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Elizabeth Ann Wolf October 27, 2016 - 11:50 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I always loved reading Paula’s blog, as I find her style so appealing. And I covet her house! Oh, to have an English (or French!) country house.

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Debbie November 1, 2016 - 8:09 am

I adore the big old houses whether in England or France. Now watching first episode of Escape to the Chateau (finally shown in Australia). Can’t wait for the next episode.

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Carol Coleman July 3, 2020 - 5:51 pm

Just saw you on the Today Show. What a beautiful home. I feel you took me back to England.

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