We all want our homes to reflect our personality. The degree to which we do it depends largely on our creativity and our ability to turn vague ideas into beautiful reality. For textile designer Molly Mahon, her home is her personality; the perfect showcase for her gorgeous block-printed fabrics, tiles and designs.
Having moved from London four years ago, Molly lives in Forest Row, an idyllic village near Ashdown Forest in East Sussex with her husband Rollo and children Lani, Algernon and Orlando. The house, a gorgeous cottage that needed a lot of work before they could move in, has an eclectic, lived-in style. “We inherited a lot of pieces which are mixed in with my own fabrics and wallpapers, items we’ve collected on our travels and anything else that has caught my eye and I simply had to have,” she explains. “I never think about the specific style of a room. I just add what I love to it.” Picking up furniture and knick-knacks in nearby Lewes and the Ardingly antiques fair, Molly also shops online, finding things on Pinterest that she tracks down to bring home.
When it comes to being inspired, colour is a big thing for Molly. “Certain colours make me happy,” she says. “I think that colour is very evocative of emotions. I love something if it brings me joy and colour can do this very easily. A lot of what I produce happens because of a feeling. I make it and it either feels right or it doesn’t. That’s the same with a room – I bring something in and it either feels right or it doesn’t!”
Colourful and creative, Molly’s home is above all full of love. Here she tells us all about it.
Did you have to do much to the house when you bought it?
Oh my goodness yes, it was a maze of little dark damp rooms. We have completely reconfigured it including moving the stairs to get the flow back in to the house and to make it work for us. It is very open downstairs, but we still have steps up into the sitting room and well placed walls to create the necessary divide between the spaces, so you almost feel like you are in another room when you are just around the corner.
What inspired the decor of the house?
An amalgamation of things, some that I have always longed for, others that suited the house. Some elements just had to be, but I certainly had a lot of scrap books ecrued over the years of magazine reading to pour over!
We wanted the kitchen to be light and bright. We lowered the floor so Rollo could actually stand comfortably and I put in pale and very wide floor boards. I love having a sofa in a kitchen and while we didn’t have room for ours, we were able to put in a bench which I adore. It’s so useful for storing toys under and when I have a spare 5 minutes, it’s a great place to sit and look out at the garden.
The tiles above the AGA are made from ply wood. It’s a new idea I’m working on, so watch this space! As long as I can make them heat-resistant, they’ll be great. Although, they’d also make a really fun wall covering for a child’s playroom, a utility room or a big blank wall. I can work to commission, so will work with someone on the design and colourway.
I just wanted this room to be cosy. We have had to make do with what we have, either that we bought when we got married or have inherited…..it just has to work! The sofa – from Harrods – was the first thing that Rollo and I bought together. I hated it and was horrified that my new husband had an opinion! But it’s been there through many an event, it’s bought us endless comfort, the children have all grown up climbing over it and I love it now – it’s part of the family!
The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Churlish Green; Cushions are a mixture of Molly’s and others from places like Cabbages & Roses. This one, £36, has a similar feel. The lamp shade is made from ikat that Molly bought in Istanbul. Rug, £20, Ikea
I wanted our bedroom to feel cosy. I love going up to our bedroom and I try to keep it uncluttered (unlike the rest of the house!) I love pattern and texture and as long as the bedroom looked cosy anything went. The walls are covered in a paper I developed with a Tobias and the Angel design, the curtains are bedspreads and other bits and pieces are inherited or made by me. The chair belonged to my grandmother and I covered it in a fabric I printed a couple of years ago.
I bought the batik picture in Africa when I was writing my dissertation in Zimbabwe. I loved the colour firstly and the ladies with their babies. I carry Orlando in a sling on my back like this, so I know how they feel!
This is our spare bedroom. The suzani on the bed is from Turkey and the rest is inherited. I hope that it is welcoming for all the lovely guests that we have. We have a little pink bathroom attached to this. I did it in pink because my mother-in-law was going to use it the most and she loves pink – as do I!
The cushion on the bed is something I hand block printed. The lamp shade I had made from a piece of Indian printed cotton and I painted the lamp base.
I wanted the bathroom to be calm, clean but above all a room as opposed to a hygienic practical bathroom. I have books and bits of furniture in here.
Molly in her studio
My studio is at the top of the garden. It was the garage, but we divided it. Rollo got one third of the space and I got two thirds!
IMAGES: Emma Lewis