I have been thinking a lot lately about how my life has changed since returning to Sussex after a lengthy 17 year stint in London, mainly after being interviewed on the subject by The Telegraph and then by the Life After London blog. One of the things that has surprised me most is just how many inspiring, creative and entrepreneurial people I have met here. Reading back through my previous interviews for the Lewes Home I also notice that nearly everyone I have interviewed has cited the ‘people’ of Lewes as being one of their favourite things about the town. Lewes people have an incredible interconnectedness, they support and encourage each other and willingly share their wisdom and expertise, it’s such a strength of the town and pretty damn cool too if you ask me. I also know that I have personally benefited from becoming part of this amazing, supportive community and the subject of today’s blog post is one awesome woman who gave me (and still gives me) endless counsel and encouragement in everything that I do.
This very special person is Nicky Westbury, busy mum to two young girls and co-founder of the stunning Scout and Co. – an online children’s boutique selling a carefully curated selection of goodies that are ethical, original and beautiful.
Nicky’s business has grown from strength to strength, in just a few short years she (and her two business partners) have created a loyal and expanding follower base, unique relationships with some of the most exciting kids’ brands out there, and a regular magazine and newspaper which showcases the products and some of the people behind them.
Although I have been familiar with Nicky’s house for a while, she has been continuously renovating it with her husband Phil for the last few years and has only recently finished, of course this instantly prompted me to interview her for The Lewes Home and to take a look around her most recent interior updates!
Nicky is such a great person and friend. I often wish that I had met her before as we have so much in common that I’m sure we would have been friends, even as kids. So when Nicky opened the door to me to take photos for this post I just tumbled in as always, feeling instantly at ease in her company and in her warm and inviting family home.
Nicky lives in a five bedroom, two bathroom, double fronted Georgian house in central Lewes. You can already see where I am going with this, right? It is BEAUTIFUL. A stunning house with a super-tasteful interior to boot. I recently read that this style of house is ‘the Nation’s’ favourite, it’s basically our collective dream house. Countless doll’s houses are designed around this classic shape (like the one Nicky’s children have below) and most children, when they first draw houses, draw this exact style of house… with windows either side of a central door and a sloped roof.
So, first things first on this house tour, let’s start with the entrance… The front door gives way to a gorgeous hallway with black and white patterned tiles, a copper light and a central wooden staircase. A circular mirror, an art print and a display of family photos from an instant camera adorn the walls. It is an uncluttered space but totally welcoming at the same time.
There are a few doors visible at the end of the hall and half-way down on either side are two living areas. The first, to the left of the hall, is a large and snuggly main living room, painted in darkest blue with colourful accents coming from the pink armchair, colour-coded books and brightly patterned rug. Gorgeous!
A cubby for logs sits to the left of the beautiful original fireplace and an impressive collection of vinyl sit on the shelves next to the window. I just love this space, there is plenty of light in the room so going dark on the walls gives it a feeling of intimacy and cosiness. That super squashy sofa also helps!
Opposite this room and to the right of the hall is another, even larger, room with double aspect window/patio doors keeping it exceptionally light.
This is the play room and is painted in a soft, pale grey which is an excellent background to the many beautiful and brightly coloured toys around the room.
This is also the perfect showroom for Scout and Co. decor items and books as it is filled with things from the store and it all looks amazing. It is such a big room that there is ample space for the two sofas, a teepee and a play kitchen as well as an array of ride-on and push-along toys that my son Albie loves to whizz around the room with.
It really is a young child’s dream play-space – and pretty much my dream play-space too!
A Berber style rug keeps the room cosy, and some art work – including a Steve Mason print by local artist Liv Bullock and letter prints by another local artist Galia Pike add more grown-up, but still colourful, touches to the room.
Back out to the hall and at the end is another door out on to the garden which has a patio area for outdoor dining, many flowers, trees and a lawn which stretches down and around to the left following the wall of the kitchen.
Next to this are doors down to the cellar, a storage cupboard and a third door into the huge kitchen/diner. This is the most recently renovated space in Nicky’s house and is nothing short of dreamy let me tell you!
Key features of the room include underfloor heating, a walk-in pantry, a kitchen island with skylight above, hexagonal backsplash tiles in on-trend pastel shades and an amazing Crittall-style glass back wall with doors onto the garden. This space is super-stylish and another spacious, warm and ideal family room.
A downstairs utility room and bathroom lead off the kitchen. Decorated in a monochrome scheme with dandelion floor tiles and herringbone wall tiles. A black framed shower door finishes the look beautifully and a skylight above the shower keeps the room light-filled and warm.
At lower-ground level is a large cellar which I bypass in favour of dashing upstairs to take pics of the main bedrooms. Half-way up the stairs is a little viewing platform/box window which juts off the back of the house and over the garden.
This small but lovely space has a pink bookshelf and mid-century chair to sit and admire views of the South Downs, although the show-stopping views of our breathtaking National Park are saved for the bedrooms.
Once on the first floor there are three large double bedrooms and a family bathroom. The master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and all three rooms have original cabinetry.
Nicky’s two daughters’ bedrooms are decorated in a pale yellow and pale pink whilst the master bedroom is in a mid-grey, yet again Nicky uses the neutral back drop to showcase colourful prints and much-loved objects around the room. The master bedroom also features double aspect windows making it light and bright and on the bed is a beautiful bedspread by Lewes-local designer Sideline.
The family bathroom on this floor has monochrome patterned floor tiles and a roll-top, claw footed bath, the walls are half white tiles and half pale blue paint but it is the silver lampshade that really catches my eye in here – check it out!
On the second floor are two further lovely double bedrooms, one of which is used as an office…I don’t have photos of these rooms so you’ll just have to take my word for it – the views from here are so beautiful, I can just imagine how amazing it must be to sit and work in the office there every day with that view reminding you of the incredible countryside all around Lewes. The best food for the soul.
So, now you have had a nosey around Nicky’s to-die-for family home, it’s time to hear a little from her good self. Settling down at her dining table with the sun streaming in (a rare sunny day for 2018) Nicky kindly answers these questions for The Lewes Home:
Tell us a little about yourself
I live in Lewes with my husband, Phil, and two daughters, Anna (nearly 6) and Matilda (3). We moved into our Georgian house on the high street three years ago and have just finished renovating it. I run an online shop, Scout & Co (scoutandcokids.com) with two close friends. We sell design-led goods for kids up to age 9-ish.
How would you describe your home style?
A mix of old and new. I really like living in an old house, and love the house’s original features that we have restored (stripped floorboards and fireplaces – one of them was marble underneath many layers of paint). Around those, it’s a mix of vintage mid-century things and new bits, including collecting prints and things that friends have created. And as many tiles as I can cram into the house – I’ve sadly run out of floors to tile now.
What/who/where inspires your style?
Our surroundings, friends (you’ve borne the brunt of my tile waffle Jo – thank you!) A couple of interiors blogs, a bit of ELLE decoration, Lewes shop ‘From Victoria‘, and Instagram is a great source of inspiration these days. I like @madaboutthehouse, @goldisaneutral @customfronts and my favourite is @edit.58 who has a lovely home and sources beautiful Moroccan rugs (she’s an enabler – we have two!).
What do you most look forward to when coming home?
Six Music on the radio, a cup of tea and a sit down, usually in the kitchen.
What is your favourite room in the home, why?
It’s a tie: I love our living room as it’s the ‘grown-up’ space with no toys. It’s painted dark navy so it feels like a cosy space to watch a film with the kids, especially when we have a fire going. It also has nice things like my husband’s vinyl and fripperies like a pink chair (that the kids aren’t allowed to eat snacks on!) And probably because it’s the most recently finished, I also love our new kitchen with its pastel Blockbuster tiles and Crittall-style doors. It’s a good space for hanging out in now.
Are there any interior design ‘rules’ you stick to when choosing things for your home?
I don’t think I’m that organised. My mum once said that if you just choose things that you like, then it will all go together in the end. I hope that’s true!
What makes Lewes special for you?
Being surrounded by the South Downs is such a treat. Lovely people, often doing incredible creative things. Bonfire processions outside our house.
Apart from your own home, can you tell me about another Lewes house that always catches your eye – what do you love about it?
There are some beauties on Rotten Row, but I have a soft spot for the pink house near the top of Keere Street. And of course, the glossy black tiled number by the Castle.
What did you do before going into business and starting up Scout and Co with your friends?
I worked in editorial: first on magazines like ELLE and then online retailers, TheOutnet and ASOS.
What spurred you on to start the business?
It was nearly five years ago and the three of us had each had our first children at that point (we now have six between us). We decided to launch a shop selling beautifully designed gifts and clothing, as the antidote to stereotypical pink and blue, and throwaway plastic. Between the three of us, we had experience in retail, editorial and creative fields, so we decided to work together.
How would you describe Scout and Co to someone that has never shopped with you before?
We’re all about design for kids you love. You’ll find 70+ brands, carefully sourced from around the world: cool clothing, Scandi décor, creative toys, beautiful books and imaginative gifts, curated by age. We also produce an online shoppable magazine twice a year with our own shoots and interviews, and a newspaper, too.
What do you look for in a supplier?
We like to find new brands that you don’t see everywhere else. If it’s décor or toys, we love things that look great throughout your home and don’t have to be banished to a kid’s room (less tidying is a bonus, eh). Anything encouraging creativity and imaginative play is a plus, and we also look for ethical production.
What’s next for Scout and Co?
We’ll be launching our own-brand lines soon and are planning a few things for our 5th birthday celebrations. We’ll be producing another issue of our magazine and newspaper for autumn/winter, too.
It is always a joy to hang out with Nicky in her dream-pad but the very best thing about her house is, of course, Nicky herself. Such an inspiration she is also one of the kindest, funniest and humble people I know, she is beautiful inside and out, just like her home.