Timeless Design


Led by Jen Bernard, Bernard Interiors works across the UK and abroad providing interior architectural design, consultancy and procurement services for the high end later living, residential and commercial markets. The award-winning practice has specialist knowledge in the interior design of five-star new build care homes, extra care apartment complexes and retirement villages. The practice is part of the Audley Villages development team and has delivered five unique projects for Audley since 2018, including the recently completed Nightingale Place in Clapham and Cooper’s Hill in Surrey.

With a passion for combining high end residential and hotel design, Jen Bernard, founder of Bernard Interiors has been creating elegant interiors for later living and healthcare developments for over a decade. Jen is credited with creating environments that defy the preconceived ideas about later living.

Abode2 caught up with Jen Bernard to further explore some of the inspirations, techniques and creativity behind Bernard Interiors award winning designs, as well as a look at past and future projects.

Your designs are elegant and timeless - tell us about your approach to later living schemes?

I feel incredibly privileged to work at the forefront of the later living and healthcare sectors. We’re challenged to create an eclectic mix of classic, contemporary and timeless styles to create safe and comfortable interiors, supporting the health and wellbeing of residents and owners. The design for Cooper’s Hill House in Surrey combines the best in hotel, residential and healthcare design to create a timeless and elegant environment for owners to enjoy the health and wellbeing facilities offered. It is a beautiful historic building, packed with personality and character.

Having specialised in renovating heritage buildings really brings them to life with stunning results, what’s the secret of your approach?

Working on a variety of new and heritage projects has enabled my team to develop and hone specialist skills, seamlessly incorporating the practical and aesthetic considerations into every scheme they undertake. It’s important to understand the context of the building, its history and uniqueness. Our role is both to create beautiful interiors and to respect the building’s heritage. We don’t attempt to mimic the existing style or period exactly unless that is required, we aim to provide a new layer of history to the building

We began the design process by researching the rich history of Cooper’s Hill House and surroundings. The Audley Cooper’s Hill development is at the heart of the impressive Magna Carta Park and the mansion was home to the Royal Indian Engineering College (RIEC) in the 1800’s. The rich and regal colour palette used throughout the interior reflects the historical period surrounding the Magna Carta.

The history, grandeur and scale of the site definitely makes Cooper’s Hill stand out so it was of paramount importance that the interiors complemented the building.

How do you work with listing buildings to make them work for the needs of the owners?

At Stanbridge Earls in Hampshire, the impressive Grade II* Tudor manor house has been sensitively remodelled to create a welcoming and friendly hospitality venue. Formerly used as a boarding school, it has been sensitively redeveloped to create a luxurious and welcoming venue. The ‘pocketed’ layout of the manor house was a real challenge as it could have constrained the operation of the restaurant, The Montfort, as well as the use of the private lounges and library by Audley owners. Finding a solution was not only crucial to allow guests to move around and find their way easily, but also to help staff to deliver excellent customer service. By careful rearrangement of the room functions and the use of a coordinated colour scheme, a sense of unrestricted flow has been created through the building.

How do you create environments that are both luxurious but have that ‘lived in’ feel?

With listed properties we carefully consider the facilities and how people would use them to ensure the flow of space respects the period features. It’s vital that our design facilitates both distancing and wellbeing in such communities. Our designs consider the potential needs of later life so that visitors, owners, families and friends can all enjoy spending time together in comfortable surroundings.

Cooper’s Hill demonstrates the meticulous styling process, including the sourcing of accessories, objet d’art and furniture which look as though they have been acquired over a lifetime. This is particularly evident in the lounge and library where a homely and ‘lived in’ feel has been created for Audley owners to relax.

The addition of carefully curated artwork from Reading Museum throughout the scheme adds to the grandeur. The use of these unique pieces create talking points, helping to encourage conversation and socialisation between owners.

One of your recent briefs was to create a new build urban retreat in central London, what was so special about that project?

Audley Nightingale Place is so unique because it's an entirely new and urban development. So rather than taking our design influences from the history of the building, we've been inspired by the adjacent Clapham Common, London life and popular culture. Design influences are distinctly 20th Century to resonate with future owners.

The bar bistro is inspired by 1970’s pop culture, with timber décor panelling and bar stools upholstered in oxblood leather with black studding. The Savoy Hotel’s elegant American Bar was a big design influence for the restaurant and small-scale retro inspired fabrics in the entrance and the lounge are reminiscent of the iconic London Underground fabric designed by Enid Marx in the 1930’s. The interiors throughout are sophisticated and glamorous, providing a warm and inviting feel for both owners and visitors.

Finally, what new projects are you currently working on?

We’re currently working on a range of later living projects for a number of different operators throughout the UK. We’ve got some very exciting Audley projects due for completion in 2022/2023 including the restoration of a neo-Georgian mansion in Berkshire, a Grade II listed manor house in West Yorkshire and an impressive new build development in Cobham, Surrey. We’re also working on some lovely high-end residential projects both in the UK and abroad – it’s exciting to have such a diverse range of projects.




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