Cover star

by Janet

It’s always a thrill to discover that the home I’ve visited, styled and written about is starring on the front cover of a national interiors magazine. 

The truth is that this ‘cover star reveal’ is often just as much of a surprise to me as it is to the homeowner and the readers, since the hardworking staff at the magazines are so flat-out that they rarely have time to share the news with contributors.

I was particularly chuffed to find the absolutely stunning home of wonderful interior designer Olivia Shaw on the front of The English Home this month. I reckon that panoramic view, framed by the floor-to-ceiling windows, is just mesmerising. Don’t you?

Behind the scenes, it took a lot of careful planning to capture that exquisite rural view at its very best. 

When I first began chatting to Olivia, of Olivia Shaw Interiors, about featuring her home in a magazine, she mentioned that the beautiful outlook was one of the main reasons that she bought the property. My instincts as an interiors journalist and stylist immediately began twitching!

Having discussed timings for Olivia’s interiors photoshoot, we agreed that it would be worth waiting until the wheat was looking like a field of gold – a bit like the Sting song – but without the barley! Olivia mentioned that there was a fairly short window of opportunity before the crop would be cut.

With Sting’s lyrics in mind, I liaised with photographer colleague, Rachael Smith, to pen a date into our diaries, not realising that the day we chose would actually turn out to be the hottest of 2022.

As the date approached, the temperatures kept climbing and people were being warned not to travel, and to stay inside, not work if possible and, basically, hide away in a fridge all day! 

Well, in our world, the show must go on, and we jump through hoops to make sure photoshoots go ahead as planned.

On the day, despite the 40 degree heat, I set off from West Sussex for the drive to Wiltshire, with a freezer bag full of chilled water – just in case!

A couple of miles from my destination, I spotted, to my horror, a combine harvester in a nearby field. My pulse raced as I wondered whether Rachael and I had been pipped to the post and that the crop adjacent to Olivia’s house would already have been cut.

Minutes later, I arrived to meet Olivia face-to-face for the first time and see the field looking uncut and totally stunning.

Olivia was fantastic. Thinking ahead, she’d rustled up an air-conditioning unit that had been lurking in the loft and, although it was still extremely hot in the house, we all managed.

The flowers were kept in the utility room – the coolest room in the house. The food props on the kitchen island only came out of the fridge at the very last minute. 

I’ll never forget poor Rachael having to step outside in the blazing heat to take the exterior photographs. Both Olivia and I wished her luck for the mission, which she not only survived, but accomplished with her usual professionalism. 

Huge thanks to Olivia for a fantastic photoshoot, to Rachael for the super shots, to The English Home for the commission, and to everyone who has emailed and messaged with such lovely feedback.

We all worked so hard, against the odds, and had an unforgettable day. The cover feature really is such a feather in our caps. 

To find out about the beautiful transformation of Olivia’s home and how the all-encompassing view informed her palette, I’d love you to pick up a June copy of The English Home. 

Do feel free to leave any comments below, and also over on Instagram. Thanks very much for reading! 

If you would like me to feature your home, please drop me an email or direct message on Instagram.

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