Inside the home of an expert art collector

A man holding a painting on tiles.

From Sandra Blow’s abstract artwork to a bronze dog bought on a childhood holiday, interior designer Tobias Vernon shares his love of ‘casual collecting’ and gives us a glimpse inside his own home

By Becky Sunshine   Images by Flora Maclean   Thursday 16 April, 2020   Long read

For interior designer and founder of design emporium 8 Holland Street, Tobias Vernon, collecting is a way life. His London treasure trove – a shop/ gallery, which opened in 2018 and is tucked down a side street in Kensington – is carefully cluttered with a charming mix of mostly mid-20th century European and Scandinavian art, studio pottery and furniture. All is sourced from warehouses, auction rooms, markets and dealers around the UK, Italy, France and Scandinavia. Along with a second space in Bath, which opened in 2019 and is similarly curated – ‘an easy-going medley of stuff’, as Vernon calls it – it serves as a pretty good indicator of the laid-back, unfussy aesthetic that has made his name. It turns out that the designer’s retail spaces have also proved fertile ground for his own home, a compact 18th-century worker’s cottage in the Somerset village of Mells, which offers a similar ‘cabinet of curiosities’ feel. ‘It’s probably no more than 600sq ft,’ says Vernon, who moved in late last year. Perched on a grassy verge in the village, one enters into a tiny hallway, an eat-in kitchen to the right, a sitting room to the left, with stairs in one corner that lead up to two bedrooms divided by a bathroom in the middle – that’s it.

Vernon takes a refreshingly relaxed approach to designing his own home: a few simple sketches t