Inside Britain’s historic homes

Ashley Hicks’ new book casts light on the decorative details of some of our country’s most splendid residences

Ashley Hicks’ home in Albany, London

The designer and architect Ashley Hicks (who has previously appeared with his wife Katalina in Town & Country magazine) has an expert eye for the final flourishes that transform an interior. In his latest book, Details, he takes readers inside some of Britain’s most magnificent country homes, capturing the unique design touches that make them special. 

Featuring much of Hicks’ personal photography, including some shots taken using only a mobile phone, the volume is full of intimate, close-up images that highlight ingenious uses of materials, angles, shapes and styles – details that he calls “the most telling moment of design”. From a bath hidden inside a wardrobe at Montacute House, Somerset, to hinged ‘moveable planes’ that maximise hanging space inside the picture room at the Sir John Soane’s Museum, each feature pays tribute to the skill and sensitivity of the designer behind it.

Ashley Hicks’ home in Oxfordshire

Ashley Hicks’ home in Oxfordshire

There are examples inside the book of Hicks’ own designs, such as the trompe-l’oeil scheme at his London residence, where a mirror-filled arch creates the illusion of space (see top), and the use of nail decoration to adorn a door with a ribbon-like motif in his Oxfordshire property. He has designed a great deal of the furniture in his homes, including the maroon cabinets, convex mirror and plaster fireplace in his living-room. 

Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire

Occasionally, the book takes readers outside the home, reminding us of the vital part that good interior design plays in connecting indoors and out, as in the wrought-iron window strips that beautifully frame the view of the yew-filled garden of John Dryden’s former residence in Northamptonshire.

Charles Eames famously wrote: “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Hicks’ new book reinforces that view on every page…

‘Details’ by Ashley Hicks (£45) is available from IDEA and Dover Street Market in a limited edition of 500 copies.

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