Design Centre Stories

Decoded: Secrets from Inside the WOW!Rooms

Take a closer look at WOW!house with 15 things you might not know about the rooms…

  • Once the shell of WOW!house had been built, designers had just five days to install their schemes.
  • Benedict Foley and his partner spent their anniversary hand-making the two huge vases of patinated tinfoil flowers (below left) that greet visitors in the Zoffany Entrance Hall. Foley’s arrangements were inspired by the theatrical and often low-fi approach that photographer Cecil Beaton and artist and stage designer Oliver Messell took to their work – but they are also symbolic of room sponsor Zoffany’s wider sustainable approach, since aluminium is one of the few materials that can be endlessly recycled.
  • The hand-painted medallions under the dado rail in The Rug Company Dining Room all allude to designer Ken Fulk’s personal life and passions: cowboy boots for his Napa Valley ranch, a watery scene for his Provincetown home, and an owl (above right) for the informal nickname he gives his husband (“the spotted owl”). The dog belonging to James Seuss, CEO of The Rug Company, also makes an appearance.
  • In the Jamb Primary Bedroom (below), designers Charlotte Freemantle and Will Fisher purposely wanted the floorboards to squeak when you walk across them, emulating a lived in, cosy room. Jamb London Primary Bedroom at WOW!house 2024
  • House of Rohl Primary Bathroom designers Christina Gregoriou and Rina Kuka of Michaelis Boyd have used a clever technique to delineate the space: the checked tiles on the floor get progressively smaller, as the room’s sub-divided spaces get more intimate. They call it the “Alice in Wonderland effect”, beckoning you into the room.
  • Anahita Rigby, the rising-star designer of the Study, channelled her love of Asia into her room, as well as her roots in Bath and London.  Traditional Staffordshire dogs sit next to Japanese books – and while the paper screen windows may be Japanese in style, they are back-lit with silhouettes of British trees (below right).
  • The Chase Erwin Library (below left) is full of allusions to designer Andrea Benedettini’s former career as a ballet dancer.  The Fiona McDonald ‘Thea’ chandelier emulates a ruffled tutu, while the Ultrasuede that drapes the room can be likened to a theatrical curtain. The soundtrack? A greatest hits of ballet composition, from Swan Lake to Sleeping Beauty. 
  • At the close of WOW!house, all the fabric used for the walls in the Colefax and Fowler morning room is being donated to Fine Cell Work, the prison rehabilitation charity and social enterprise.
  • Suzy Hoodless’ Dining Space was inspired by the nature surrounding her Cornish home. The bespoke rug (made by The Rug Company) features stylised motifs of the plants in her garden, including narcissi, fig and wisteria; while the bespoke wallcovering, created by artist Adam Ellis, depicts the view of pine trees.
  • The shields in the Watts 1874 Legend Room by Alidad (painted by Croxford & Saunders) commemorate important dates in Watts’ 150-year-old history, including creating the altar frontal and robes for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 – a commission that turned the company’s fortunes around.
  • The silver architectural detailing that runs around the ceiling in the Zimmer + Rohde Bedroom Suite by Tolù Adẹ̀kọ́ is made from earrings.
  • The design trend no one saw coming? Zodiac signs. See if you can spot them in the Watts 1874 Legend Room by Alidad; The Rug Company Dining Room by Ken Fulk; and the Dining Space by Suzy Hoodless (below).Dining Space by Suzy Hoodless, at WOW!house 2024
  • Katharine Pooley asked bespoke wallcovering experts Fromental to create a special version of her ‘Butterfly Garden’ design for the McKinnon and Harris Courtyard, in a new colour she calls Chelsea green. In hand-painted, hand-embroidered silk, its design features the flowers in her own garden.
  • The Schumacher Courtyard Bedroom was inspired by designer Veere Grenney’s own bedroom in his Chelsea Embankment apartment. It includes some highly personal touches, including his own paintings, and a potted geranium, his favourite flower. Schumacher Courtyard Bedroom by Veere Grenney, at WOW!house 2024
  • WOW!house is a multi-sensory experience: each designer curated their own playlist, and chose a room fragrance from event partner Diptyque, to complement their schemes and make their room truly immersive.

WOW!house 2024