'Water, big skies, ever changing light - I love living by the sea'

House interior with window, curtains seat and cushions

Let there be light - Alexandra Langdon creates fresh, light-filled interiors with an emphasis on making space work. - Credit: whatassociates

Designer Alexandra Langdon spent her childhood by the sea in Aldeburgh, a place that still inspires and influences the fresh, elegant and light-filled interiors she creates for homes today.

Alexandra Langdon was probably destined to be an interior designer. "My parents are art dealers, who renovated houses throughout my childhood. I grew up watching projects evolve from building sites to finished homes, decorated with beautiful art, fabrics and antique furniture."

It's hardly surprising then, that she grew up "interested in houses" and with an early appreciation of what made a stylish  interior. After school she took a degree in art history at the University of St Andrews and began her career working for several events companies, including the Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fairs.

Searching for something more creative she went to work for leading designer David Bentheim, who is known for creating stylish, modern interiors for a range of international clients from high-end residential homes, to boutique hotels and large corporate developments. "David opened my eyes to the diversities of interior design," says Alexandra. "His experience and guidance were hugely beneficial and gave me a great foundation to start my own company."

READ: Enjoy a family staycation at this stylish house the Suffolk coast 

How lucky for Suffolk that Alexandra has chosen to base that company in Aldeburgh, returning to the place where she grew up. "I loved living by the sea, surrounded by a large extended family," she says. Wanting the same experience for their own children, she and her husband moved to Aldeburgh five years ago.

 Alexandra Langdon

Alexandra starts by planning the space, informed by how the client wishes to use their home. - Credit: Alexandra Langdon

 Alexandra Langdon

Colour and pattern are important to Alexandra Langdon - Credit: Alexandra Langdon

Her approach to interior design is similarly thoughtful. It's about personal space - something that has never mattered more than in recent times - creating environments that reflect people's lives and how they would like to live and giving considerable attention to the architecture of a home. "Once the house flows, with the walls in the right place, you can then add in furniture, create lighting plans and start looking at schemes. This is the point that I love to mix traditional and contemporary styles together, creating interiors full of colour and pattern."

Alexandra's style is elegant and fresh, a reflection of early life spent by the Suffolk coast, but also inspired by her current surroundings. She has a studio above Thompson's Gallery where she loves seeing new works of art and the colours within them. "Living in Aldeburgh I am influenced by the water, big skies and the ever-changing natural light. And I've been greatly influenced by the people I work with in the county.

 Alexandra Langdon

Light and freshness epitomise Alexandra Langdon's approach to design - Credit: Alexandra Langdon

 Alexandra Langdon

Marine colours reflect Alexandra Langdon's seaside environment. - Credit: Alexandra Langdon

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"Suffolk is full of incredibly skilled people who have great attention to detail, high standards and are very generous with both their time and knowledge. Since moving to the county, I've learned a huge amount from structural engineers, metal engineers, joiners, plasterers, flooring specialists, lampshades makers, curtain makers… the list, as with the list of trades it takes to create a home, goes on and on."

Alexandra particularly likes to create designs that bring a fresh aesthetic to old buildings, while respecting their history. "I find it really rewarding to peel back the layers of such a project and work through the challenges and restrictions that can arise when you're creating a home that works for a family and each person within it.

 Alexandra Langdon

Attention to detail... - Credit: Alexandra Langdon

 Alexandra Langdon

Alexandra Langdon is inspired by colour and pattern. - Credit: Alexandra Langdon

"It's really important that I understand how a client would like to use their space. This is where I start each design. Once this has been planned and agreed, I then work with clients to inject their own sense of style into their home." Recently, Alexandra has worked on a whole range of projects from a single room to whole houses. She's currently working on a couple of whole-house renovations in Aldeburgh, as well as projects in Norfolk and London.

Like art, design is a such a subjective thing, I wonder about the challenges for an interior designer, the pressure to 'get it right' and the risk of a disappointed client, but Alexandra is calm and philosophical. "Creating an interior for a client is a journey," she says. "It starts by understanding why a client has come to you and listening to them. It's a collaborative process that I find hugely rewarding. It also requires quite a bit of trust. I believe the best results come when clients trust the process."

She relaxes by spending time with her family. "A walk down the beach is hugely rejuvenating and a good antidote to a busy week. I love to paddle-board. On a still morning, paddling from Aldeburgh to Orford for breakfast at Pump Street Bakery is a favourite."

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The new year sees Alexandra starting work on a new project, a period property which she says is "rather tired" and in need of a complete overhaul - new windows, doors, plumbing, electrics, and walls moved. She would also like to do more commercial work and realise a longer term ambition. "I would love the opportunity to work on a hotel," she says. Watch this space.

Favourite things

Place
Each year we go and camp up at The Wardens Trust, on the cliffs north of Thorpeness, 100metres
from the sea. It's a beautiful place to go and relax with the children. In addition to offering wonderful camping facilities, it's an inspiring charity who provide recreational and holiday facilities for children and adults with disabilities.

Walk
The Sailors' Path (between Aldeburgh and Snape). When we were children there was a derelict house on the walk that I loved to run around and look through the rather dirty windows.

Place to eat
Breakfast on the beach. We pick up croissants and a baguette from The Two Magpies (bakery) and go down with the paddle board. Lunch in the garden at the Wentworth (hotel), something we have been doing since I was a child. Dinner at L’Escargot, the staff are wonderful - as is the crab.

Gallery
Thompsons Gallery, John Martin of London and Portland Gallery are all in the family, so I think they
are a good place to start. Two friends have recently set up Art East, they show works each September in a beautiful barn in Framsden.

Book
Elizabeth Gouge Little White Horse. I fell in love with Maria's room as a child - a four poster bed at
the top of a spiral staircase really captured my imagination. I recently bought a copy for my children from The Aldeburgh Book Shop.

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