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Architect & artist Candida Woolley’s arts-and-crafts house

Putney Exchange

Candida began her career as an architect and, whilst working at Chapman Taylor and Partners in the late 1980’s designed Putney Exchange shopping centre. She was lucky in having Nigel Woolner as her partner in charge of the £30 million project as he gave her a free hand in the design and management of the scheme, an innovative concept at the time.

Candida’s approach was to focus on one clear design idea and then to follow it through in every detail. And this is exactly what she has done in her house – if you are embarking on creating a lovely home “get an idea and stick to it..”


Candida, understandably, was inspired by the architecture of her arts-and-crafts home and it was important to her to be totally authentic throughout.

Arts-and-Crafts is described in the Oxford Dictionary of Architecture as “Widely influential late-C19 English movement that attempted to re-establish the skills of craftsmanship threatened by mass-production and industrializtion. Whilst the medieval craft-guilds were revered as ideals, the movement had its origins in the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau who proposed that manual skills should be acquired by everybody, no matter from what social class”. Today our interest in making has been ignited once again. There is an increase in traditional skills and the value of original hand made work.

William Morris, is probably the most famous of the arts-and-crafts designers.  His often repeated phrase that one should “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” is carried through in Candida’s home:-

Dining Room

The design details, colour and furniture have been inspired by the original architectural concept – from the beautiful frieze designed and painted by her talented sister, Flick Stainthorpe (who copied the honeysuckle motif from the original woodcarving of the fire-surround) down to the yellow of the curtains in the dining room, which pick up the colours in the details of the stained-glass windows and are true to the period.

The fire-surround itself was in it’s original oak state when Candida and her husband bought the house. They decided to paint it black and pick out the detailing in gold leaf to follow the artistic principles of the time.


Again in-keeping with the principles of the movement, the cabinets in the kitchen and the bookcases in the study were individually created by designer and  Bill Stainthorpe Furniture to enable every design detail to fit in with the house and be an accurate reflection of the period.

Sitting Room

The drawing room is also based around the original fireplace, which Candida restored using new tiles made in the original method and style, with William Morris wallpaper hand printed from the original blocks. The furniture was all found in local antique shops and includes Arts and Crafts originals from the Scottish firm of Wylie and Lochhead.

Candida continued to do private architectural work whilst her children were small, to fit around the needs of her family. Then, after ten years she decided to fulfil another ambition – to paint. She took her suitcase full of all her work on the Putney Exchange Project to the prestigious Wimbledon School of Art and was accepted to embark on a 5 year Fine Art degree.

Her website shows some of her current paintings: www.candidawoolley.weebly.com

briefcase and recent work

William Morris & Co continues to supply authentic wallpaper and fabric designs as well as new interpretations. There is also more information about the man and the history of the company available on the site.



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  1. A fabulous example of home making inspired by the original architecture combined with the spirit of our time.
    Love the driving force of ‘stick with your idea’ to create the home you love.
    Clearly a great talent in both art and architecture.
    Thank you for the insight!

    Comment by Lynne — April 16, 2012 @ 11:03

  2. Wow, a beautiful home for so many reasons!

    Comment by Louisa Blackmore — April 16, 2012 @ 16:34

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