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‘Snippets from Our Lives’: At Home with Toast’s Suzie de Rohan Willner

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‘Snippets from Our Lives’: At Home with Toast’s Suzie de Rohan Willner

Rachael Smith October 17, 2022

“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 de rohan willner,  d at home. 17
Above: Suzie de Rohan Willner, pictured at home.

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.”

one of the two original prints that led suzie and her family to oxfordshire. 18
Above: One of the two original prints that led Suzie and her family to Oxfordshire.

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:

&#8\2\20;our home is an evolving collection of snippets from our lives, rem 19
Above: “Our home is an evolving collection of snippets from our lives, reminding us of people we love and places we have ventured,” says Suzie. “I lived in France for some time before going to university in Paris. Roaming around in Paris flea markets and small boutiques gave me a love of the eclectic.”

“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.”

suzie uses the victorian greenhouse all year round—&#8\2\2\1;althoug 20
Above: Suzie uses the Victorian greenhouse all year round—”although we do have buckets on the floor in winter to catch the rain coming through!”

“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.”

 designed by barr kitchens, the kitchen features almond flower lime paint  21
Above: Designed by Barr Kitchens, the kitchen features Almond Flower lime paint by Bauwerk Color on the walls and Emerald Green Farrow & Ball on the units—“to remind us of the South of France.” (Suzie lived in the Var region for many years).
the egg yolk yellow aga and original slate floors came with the house. 22
Above: The egg-yolk yellow Aga and original slate floors came with the house.

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.”

the apothecary cupboard. &#8\2\20;i have kept all of my grandmother’ 23
Above: The apothecary cupboard. “I have kept all of my grandmother’s china from the 1920s,” Suzie says.

“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.”

the family spend most of their time in the light filled rooms facing the garden 24
Above: The family spend most of their time in the light-filled rooms facing the garden. The traditional solid paneled shutters were refurbished when the couple moved in.
a restful bedroom. when it comes to textiles, suzie&#8\2\17;s preference is 25
Above: A restful bedroom. When it comes to textiles, Suzie’s preference is for “rich and interesting, off-beat combinations of colors and materials.” Seen here is a classic ticking stripe bedlinen and the Firle Patchwork Quilt crafted in India from a patchwork of cotton fabrics, both available from Toast.
a  sculptural julie gurr basket in the bathroom. 26
Above: A  sculptural Julie Gurr basket in the bathroom.

For more characterful interiors, see:

A Historic English Countryside Cottage Gets a Contemporary Extension

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