A Laid-Back Family Home That’s Also Perfect For Parties

by Jamie Mitchell in Interior designed homes

Designer Mark Howorth of Callender Howorth brought a touch of Los Angeles-style glamour to this well-proportioned family home in Benfleet, Essex

What we want from our home depends very much on what mood we’re in. Sometimes a relaxing sanctuary might be the order of the day, but however much you like to take it easy,  there will be times when you just want to party. This five-bedroom family home is proof that, with a bit of creative thinking and the right designer on board, it is possible to have it all.  By day, a spacious living area is flooded with natural light, its generous windows overlooking the picturesque Thames Estuary; but at night, a vibrant and colourful lighting scheme helps to give this home the feel of a Los Angeles nightclub.

The designer in question is Callender Howorth, whose managing director Mark Howorth explains the rationale behind this cool, sophisticated and highly versatile design scheme.


‘The house was built in the early Eighties, and although it was well designed by the architects, with generous windows and good-sized living areas, the décor looked tired.’

‘The idea was to bring it bang up to date. The client wanted it to look really slick, but not overly designed, so the brief was to keep it comfortable too.’

Howorth worked closely with the lady of the house, who, he says, has a very good sense of style. ‘We began by sitting down with a coffee and some magazines and getting a feel for the kinds of things that might work,’ he says. One of the themes that emerged most strongly from these discussions was that the client wanted an interior that would wow her party guests.

‘She wanted things that were really innovative, new and different,’ says Howorth. ‘So, with the kitchen for example, we’ve used this really unusual grey stained bird’s eye maple veneer, finished with high-gloss lacquer.’

The kitchen is one of the most stylish, yet also functional, rooms in the house. Howorth and his design team worked alongside Giorgia Vainutyte of Holloways of Ludlow to create a room whose emphasis is on quality materials and clean lines.

The centrepiece is a four metre-long island topped with a Caesarstone 4030 work surface and with a circular, ‘Tepan’ hotplate. This island incorporates a strip of LED lighting, which gives a touch of glamour as well as cleverly concealing the join in the Corian surface. A Dakota dining table, paired with elegant Elle dining chairs by Alias, sits below an oversized bespoke light shade by Heathfield Lighting.

The upstairs of the house was given a thorough makeover too. Says Howorth: ‘We redesigned all five of the bathrooms, and the brief for these was the same as for the rest of the house – to create something a little bit unusual. We used some fantastic metallic tiles from Strata and Rio shower heads by Crosswater that have coloured lights in them – they’re a bit funky, a bit out-there.’

To make the most of the already generously-sized living area, Howorth and his team removed a wall and replaced it with glass to ‘open up’ the entrance hall into the living room. This also makes the most of the fantastic views of the Estuary.

The look in this room is stylish and laid-back. Floors are tiled with Grestec Tiles’ Greenstone Collection. Generous brown leather sofas and armchairs by Montis give plenty of comfort, while the lighting scheme, with Lutron controls, creates an instant disco-vibe.

According to Howorth, the success of this project lies in the way it reflects the personalities of the people who live there. ‘Every client is different and this really is quite a sassy, fun entertaining space,’ he says. ‘It really does look fantastic at night-time, which is when they entertain. When you look out at those views and see the lights twinkling on the water, you could almost be in LA instead of Essex!’

Callender Howorth – callenderhoworth.co.uk

Recommended Editorials