wicklewood house guest gardener butter wakefield


‘I grew up in the States surrounded by great gardens both my maternal grandparents and mother had created,’ says Butter Wakefield, the award-winning London-based garden designer famed for her beautiful, wild creations. Her first job in the UK was as a trainee at interiors house Colefax and Fowler, an experience she credits with teaching her ‘all about scale, pattern, colour, texture and good design principles which have served me extremely well in the exterior world of garden design.’ It was after the birth of her second child that she decided to ‘do her own thing’ and moved outside to garden design. 

Her family home in Shepherd’s Bush is a riot of wonderful colour and pattern, peppered with treasures gathered over a lifetime of collecting, ‘they add a sense of fun and character to a home, and allow a little view into the owner’s interests and taste,’ says Butter. And, of course, a beautiful garden – ‘various shades of green with a bit of colour in between,’ she says, modest about the dreamy space she has created, ‘I love a clipped form and the borders left and right of the wildflower meadow have eight yew pyramids equally spaced which help to calm the riotous tangle in and amongst them.’

We grabbed Butter between projects for ten minutes on our virtual sofa to talk colour, collecting and the joy of creating spaces for entertaining…


WW: Where’s home? 

BW: In Shepherd’s Bush, where I’ve lived for the past 30+ years in the house where our four children grew up. It is a very happy special little place with generous high ceilings and a sunny west facing kitchen and conservatory. It’s so special to still live here with so many family memories. 

WW: Tell us about the space?

BW: My interior style is a hodgepodge of colour, pattern and lovely bits of old china and art work I have collected over the years. I am devoted (putting it mildly!) to the colour green, but temper it with a lot of black and white which I think helps it feel more striking and interesting.

wicklewood cushions butter wakefield home

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 WW: Your favourite room?

BW: I love my double drawing room and kitchen in equal measure. The drawing room feels gracious and comfortable – a perfect place to feel a sense of cosy countryside in the swirl of busy London. I have a real fire which is always a treat to lay and light. My kitchen/conservatory is the heart of the house – the children and I are always in here cooking, pottering, and watching the telly. It’s an uplifting space with plants almost everywhere which quietly makes us all feel happy and calm.


WW: Your most precious interiors possession?

When my heavenly Grandfather died years ago, we were all allowed to choose one thing we particularly loved. I chose a beautiful fruitwood pear-shaped tea caddy which sits on a William and Mary oak bureau my mother-in-law gave me as a wedding present. The pair together always remind me of the very special relationship I had, and have, with them both. My MIL is a magnificent hostess who arranges flowers beautifully and has been an enormous inspiration to me throughout my life here in London – I adore her!! 

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WW: What are your top three tips for a beautiful home?


1 Choose a colour you adore – then gently run it through the whole of the house.  The floor in my hallway is lovely black and white linoleum squares, my hall carpet and stair runner is black and white stripes, and both my upstairs bathroom have black and white tile floors. Even a quiet nod to the colour, helps to create a sense of thoughtful calm and cohesion.  

2 Don’t be afraid to use colour – you can always start small, in a downstairs loo or the inside of a coat cupboard or bookshelves. It’s amazing the impact it has on the rest of the room – and on one’s mood! 

3 Scale up wherever possible – go big and grand with pattern in places like the hall, as it’s never lived in and only passed through, you can afford to have a big repeat of colour and pattern here. My hall is a bit mad but it creates a splash of mood enhancing happiness whenever I step through the front door (which is also green…)

WW: And in the garden?

BW: Treat the garden in much the same way. Repeat colour and pattern throughout, don’t be afraid to think big, especially in small spaces, and keep different materials to a minimum. The only real difference is that you have to choose plants that suit your garden’s aspect – shade loving perennials will not be happy in a south facing border and vice versa. 

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WW: What’s your entertaining style?

BW: I love to entertain, but find it difficult to find the time and energy after a long work week! It’s all about a beautifully laid table with flowers (hopefully from the garden), pattern and colour. I love to cook – there’s no greater way to show your friends how much you love them than by taking the time to prepare and cook for them. In my mind, entertaining all starts around our kitchen table.  

WW: And the flowers? 

BW: I love a selection of flowers – never shop bought if I can possibly help it – running down the length of the table in bud vases or a collection of antique milk bottles I’ve found over the years. Candles of varying heights and colour (never white) add another beautiful dimension and I adore combining a mix of patterned, colourful plates, too. I can never really manage understated elegance or pared back tastefulness…! 

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Photography - Charlotte Bland
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