“I completely fell in love at first sight,” says Nikki Tibbles of her cozy yet cool country home. “It has bright rooms, huge gardens, and there’s not a neighbor in sight. It’s my secret escape from the city.” As the owner of Wild at Heart, Tibbles is one of London’s most sought-after florists. She found her rural retreat in leafy Sussex a few years ago and decided to rent it to provide a relaxing sanctuary from her busy urban life.
Surrounded by 20 acres of land, the Georgian property dates back to 1760 but was mostly finished in the 1800s. The interior had been untouched for at least 40 years when Tibbles first saw it. As soon as she moved in, she ripped up the carpets, waxed the floorboards, painted the walls and ceilings, and outfitted a new, simple kitchen. The fresh rooms became a blank canvas for the florist’s enviable art collection and mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings.
Pretty floral displays adorn rooms decorated with her vast range of vases—from modern colored glass to creamy Fulham pottery by legendary florist Constance Spry. Floral motifs also play a prominent role in the interior décor, blooming across rugs and fabrics, furniture and walls. “I love anything floral, whether it’s on a dress or a dressing table,” she says.
“My country house style is colorful, eclectic, and slightly chaotic—although I’m always aiming for organized chaos! I love playing with color, texture, and pattern, on top of pattern, on top of pattern.” — Nikki Tibbles
At her retreat, Tibbles appreciates quiet time reading, but on most weekends she has friends to visit. “I enjoy cooking and entertaining, and this house is perfect for that,” she says, “One of my favorite design pieces is my Saarinen Tulip dining table. It not only looks beautiful, but I’ve made many fond memories of laughter with friends round the table.”
Tibbles first tried her hand at floristry more than 20 years ago when she offered to do the flowers for a friend’s wedding. She was working in advertising at the time and looking for a change in her career. “I’m quite creative, but I can’t paint, I can’t draw, and I can’t write. I realized flowers were the perfect medium to express myself. They let me work with color and texture.”
After an apprenticeship with an established London florist, Tibbles launched Wild at Heart in 1993 in the Turquoise Island building in Notting Hill. She has since added a flagship store in Pimlico and a concession in the Liberty department store. The events side of the business—from gala dinners in London to weddings in the South of France—now takes up most of her time. (See one of Tibbles’s floral installations at The Bloomsbury Hotel’s Dalloway Terrace.)
Notwithstanding her busy schedule, she also finds time to campaign for animal welfare and regularly travels to countries such as Romania, Spain, and Cyprus to bring back maltreated dogs to rehome. She founded the Wild at Heart Foundation, a charity to educate people on animal welfare and encourage them to “adopt rather than shop.” Tibbles owns six rescue dogs that bound around the house.
“The aim is to fund and support animal welfare projects all over the world,” she explains. “In particular, we aim to reduce the world’s 600 million stray dog population by providing funding and support to rescue projects, organizing neutering programs, and delivering education initiatives. I’m very proud of the work we have achieved.”
The rolling fields and orchards around her home are the ideal place for her fortunate dogs to roam and for visitors to unwind. “My perfect weekend is spent here, surrounded by close friends and family, cooking, eating, and then going for a long Sunday stroll with my beautiful dogs,” she says, “It’s blissful and it keeps me sane.”
More Scenes from Nikki Tibbles’ Home
Click the arrows or swipe to see more of the florist’s English country house interiors and to meet her pups.
By Talib Choudhry | Photography by Ingrid Rasmussen/Living Inside