“If visualization helps us observe and aspire to another reality, then perhaps, in a subconscious way, these two prints played their part in leading us all to Oxfordshire. I like to think so.” These are the wise and slightly witchy words of Suzie de Rohan Willner, the CEO of clothing and homeware brand Toast.
Suzie is recounting the story of how two original prints traveled with her for many years before eventually ending up in the county they depict. Suzie explains: “It was only after moving to Oxfordshire that my daughter, Gen, discovered two prints that had been with us in various houses since she was born. When having them reframed, it was pointed out to me that the pair of original prints, dated 1818, were of Henley-on-Thames and Wallingford in Oxfordshire. These prints had traveled with us from France and Belgium to London, England. Today, my daughter lives in Henley-on-Thames and I live with my husband, Stephen, in Wallingford, where the two prints are proudly displayed on the wall in our home.”
Suzie visited Wallingford with her husband, Stephen—a founder of the Oxfordshire-based design practice HollandGreen—five years ago. The pair agreed it would be “a perfect place to live one day.” In 2020, their search for a new life outside of London led them to this handsome Georgian farmhouse.
We take a tour:
“We fell in love with the house on our first visit,” Suzie recalls. “We were drawn to the architecture, with its generous sense of space, symmetry and abundance of natural light and the beautifully tended, mature garden complete with an original Victorian greenhouse.”
“The house has a typical Georgian layout,” Suzie says. “We changed very little structurally as we wanted to preserve the original features. I find the discipline of the Georgian style reassuring and it serves as a solid structure for playfulness within.” Personality has been expressed through paint, objects, and artworks.
“Over the years I have collected art created by various members of the family, including works by my stepfather William George Mitchell, the sculptor,” says Suzie. “They sit happily next to posters I have picked up along the way: A Jacques Tati poster of Mon Oncle or a Mary Koop London Underground poster, designed in 1925, which I bought for £10 when it was being removed from a window display in a department store 15 years ago.”
The kitchen is both practical and playful and is Suzie’s favorite room in the house. “We wanted a simple space that suited the house with bold colors that are both joyous and relaxing. The dresser is reminiscent of a traditional apothecary and is used to display my collection of beautiful yet functional handmade ceramics and kitchenware, such as my Leach Pottery mixing bowls and brushes from Toast’s Rosa Harradine.”
“We have collected many possessions over the years,” she says. “Much of the art has a personal connection, but I’ve also added pieces from makers I admire such as Julie Gurr, a willow basket weaver, who is part of the Toast New Makers program.”
For more characterful interiors, see: