A school fit for the Queen


Creating a reception area for a new school

One of the things I love about being an Interior Designer is the diverse nature of my work; no two projects are the same. So when a new school approached me to design the main reception I was really keen to find out more.

Holyport College is a free school in Berkshire, which offers a boarding option to pupils, and enjoys educational sponsorship from Eton College.

The school was built on the site of the former Holyport Manor School, retaining some of the original period buildings but creating new modern teaching and living accommodation for its pupils.

Our brief was to design two areas in the original building, Winton House, in time to welcome the pupils on their first day:
1. Main reception
2. The Headmaster’s office

Holyport moodboard

We wanted to create a reception area that had a classic contemporary feel by mixing traditional shapes and soft furnishings to reflect the original architecture of the building. We used the ‘Eton Blue’ colour (which is rather more green than blue) on the walls, along with the school’s red and blue colours in the soft furnishings.

We designed and created a panelled fireplace to create a traditional focal point in the main room with space to display the school’s crest. The simple design of the reception desk was branded with the Holyport logo and is a stand alone piece of furniture that can also accommodate a wheelchair user.

Traditional wing back chairs and elegant furniture was sourced locally and a renowned French polisher in Maidenhead, JW Mundy & Son, stripped and re-polished the pieces to a beautiful antique wax finish. (They are well worth visiting if you have a tired piece of furniture that needs some TLC).

A bold multi-coloured woven fabric with swirling tendrils in a symmetrical artichoke pattern, one of William Morris’s classic designs, was used for the curtains and Roman blinds with tartan and deep velvets used for the upholstered furniture.

Headmaster Walter Boyle’s office had original dark oak paneling which was restored and hand stained to retain the character of this room. We used a variety of Mulberry and GPJ Baker fabrics in rich earthy tones to create warmth, texture and an element of tradition. An antique writing desk was sourced to reflect the original interior with a modern Gainsborough swivel office chair in luxurious wool fabric. Two wing back arm chairs form an informal seating area for one-to-one meetings.

HRM Queen Elizabeth meeting Sir Nicholas Winton

The school opened its doors in September 2014 to 68 day pupils and 55 boarders. The governors and pupils were delighted to have the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh unveil a plaque and sign the visitors book at the school on the 28th November 2014 to officially open the school. They also spent some time talking to students and looking around the new buildings.

It was really great to work on such an interesting and rewarding project, and to add something a bit different to our portfolio.