Glebe House in Devon has taken over Instagram with its much fawned-over interiors. Here, co-founder Olive Guest and interior designer Ali Childs of Studio Alexandra tell Stylist how to get the look for yourself.
Glebe House has that special something. The Devon-based guesthouse has only been open a year, but its popularity is such that you’d be hard-pressed to find weekend availability before 2023.
Its allure is three-fold: a mix of Italian-style farm-to-table dining, an idyllic countryside location and the interiors – oh, the interiors. If you own an Instagram account and are at all interested in interior design, there’s no way you won’t have stumbled across Glebe’s characterful mismatch of colour, art, pattern and plenty of finishing touches from independent makers.
The design concept is the work of Glebe House’s co-owner Olive Guest (she runs it with her husband Hugo, who grew up in Glebe House), and interior designer Ali Childs of Studio Alexandra. The pair are old friends and were excited to come together on the project.
“My mum was an artist, as was hers, and our home in Sussex always felt colourful, eclectic and homely, which was a huge inspiration for Glebe,” says Olive, who inherited the artist gene and has hand-painted murals around the guesthouse.
Another prominent influence is the Bloomsbury Group’s Charleston House, the preserved home of artists Vanessa Bell (Virgina Woolf’s sister) and Duncan Grant, in East Sussex. “Every surface there is an opportunity to bring joy and colour into people’s lives; it’s like a living piece of art,” says Olive.
With this in mind, Glebe House’s aesthetic is about mastering the harmony between print, colour and a plethora of design styles, a challenge that Studio Alexandra was happy to take on.
“Olive’s family have connections to Italy and India, so we wanted to incorporate a nod to these cultures with textiles and materials,” Ali explains. “I call it happy chaos – the trick is to pick a few key colours to bring the concept together and use different types and scales of patterns. For example, I’ll put stripes and florals together instead of all one or the other.”
While you might not be able to snag a room at Glebe House for the bank holiday, you can recreate some of its already-cult interiors in your own home. Here, Olive and Ali share some of the ways they created the Glebe aesthetic.
Paint an artist’s mural
As Charleston is a key inspiration for Glebe House, it’s no surprise that Olive drew on her artistry to add decorative murals around the space. The effect is deeply personal and completely unique, as well as bringing a beautiful spectrum of colour and pattern to the design.
For those who want to try their own mural at home, Olive says: “I didn’t want a cookie-cutter interior scheme, and touches like hand-painted white tulips on the kitchen shutter doors create a homely feel.
“I sketch the design out first, concentrating on scale. If you work with acrylic paints you can easily redo it as many times as you need to. I call my style additive rather than perfectionist, I like building and reworking certain parts. It’s good to practise a little, but once you have the general gist there’s nothing better than just going for it.”
Make a statement with headboards
“The dream for Glebe House was that each bedroom would have its own unique personality and a fabulous headboard,” says Ali. “If your budget won’t stretch to a fancy four-poster or elaborate bed, then buy a valance and just go big with the headboard.”
Ali created bespoke headboards for many of the rooms at Glebe, with one her favourites being The Old Kitchen. This room’s headboard features a waved shape, designed by Ali, reupholstered by Victoria Williams with a clashing trim. “The undulating shape is very popular right now and the mix of colour and pattern fitted the ‘fun’ brief.”
You may also like
9 statement headboards that will add a bold finish to your bedroom
Hunt for vintage sinks
A beautiful bathroom is such a treat and in this respect Glebe House is practically a sweet shop. While most people get excited over a wow-factor bath, it could be a thoughtfully chosen sink that takes your bathroom to the next level.
In the pale pink bathroom attached to The Old Boys Room, a floral vintage sink adds instant character. “Antique markets are great for finding old sinks. In France they’re particularly good, but in the UK you can try places like Kempton Park and Ardingly Antiques Fair,” says Olive.
“We did a lot of our renovations through the pandemic when it wasn’t possible to visit markets in person and I would recommend spending time on Facebook Marketplace. It may automatically restrict what you can see based on location but my advice would be to open your search up to the whole of the UK. Renting a van is worth it for something special.”
Be bold with striped walls
The dining room is anchored by bold, deep green striped walls. The effect is simple but impactful, especially against period detailing.
To try this at home, measure up the width of the area you want to paint and divide by the amount of stripes you’d like. For example, if you want very thick stripes, divide the measurement by a smaller number such as four or five to find out how many centimetres or inches wide they should each be.
Using a pencil, go around the room marking dots to show the width of each stripe at the top, middle and bottom sections of the wall. Follow this with a long level stick or laser level, drawing vertically to define the stripe. Once well masked (using Frog Tape), you can start painting and voila, a statement striped wall is yours.
Use patterned wallpaper for small areas
Instead of detracting from the size of a smaller space, Glebe House is a shining example of how playing with colour and print can accentuate its charm, no matter how shoebox it might be.
“The Tulip Room is the smallest bedroom but we wanted people to know that as much thought and care had gone into it as any of the others. Instead of shying away from that fact, busy, patterned wallpaper injects some fun and makes the room a feature,” says Ali.
In this instance, Ottoline’s Little Wild Tulips wallpaper feels playful and lifts the room with a jolly mix of red and green. Similarly, smaller bathrooms are also bolstered with eye-catching wallpaper to give them a dose of pizazz.
Get the Glebe House look at home
Glebe House’s curated, lived-in look has been achieved by gathering accessories and soft furnishings from a wide-reaching range of independent makers, bringing together a mix of styles and materials. In other words, this is the opposite of a buy-it-all-at-once Ikea jobby.
If a whole room makeover isn’t on the cards at the moment, get the Glebe House look with some of Olive’s favourite brands.
“Tarn London is founded by Tanya Zendra, who has a brilliant eye for antique and vintage homewares. Glebe is filled with art and much of it has been found through vintage sellers. I love Tarn’s selection of oil paintings which make such an impact.”
“Founded by Jane McCall and Jane Howard, Bloomsbury Revisited is a collection of hand-painted lampshades inspired by The Bloomsbury Group which is very in tune with Glebe House.”
“I have one of Molly Mahon’s books and actually asked for advice a few times throughout the creation of Glebe. She’s so lovely and really helped us out, and her block printed fabrics are beautiful.”
“We have used two of Ottoline’s wallpapers and while it was a bit of an investment, it really brings something special to the space.”
Images: Courtesy of Glebe House
Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.
Recommended by Megan Murray
Home and interiors
These are the interiors trends to watch in 2022, according to Etsy
This statement print is having another resurgence when it comes to homeware
Home and interiors
9 best pieces from H&M Home’s new collaboration with Sketch’s interior designer
Home and interiors
Elevate your bedroom decor with these 9 statement headboards