Interiors guru – hello!
A one-woman interiors inspiration, Fiona McLeod lives in Cheltenham and dreams in Sri Lanka. Here she shares her secret haunts.
The first time I meet Fiona McLeod, interior architect and creator of the dreamy Meda Gedara villa in Sri Lanka, is at her Cheltenham town house a few doors down from Pittville Pump Room. Knocking on the Union Jack-painted door, I’m already thinking, “I want this house.” And I do, I really, really do (I also want her pleated, mustard-yellow blouse by Biba – yes, full-blown girl crush going on here), for McLeod has an incredible eye for the beautiful, the quirky, the original – and I NEED the in on her favourite places. I’ve promised not to stalk and slavishly copy, but, you know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Meda Gedara, Sri Lanka
With views down through the tropical gardens and out to the Indian Ocean, Meda Gedara is our tropical hideaway. We built the villa from scratch specifically for families and big groups to go and enjoy a properly luxurious holiday. There’s a 74ft water slide hidden in the landscaped gardens, a kids’ TV room right in the middle of the villa and a huge cinema space that can be transformed into an emperor-sized, ground-floor bedroom. Building Meda Gedara has completely consumed me and my husband for the past five years as we meticulously thought of every detail imaginable. Having been the architect, and interiors and garden designer, I’ve been responsible for the style and functionality of the villa, while my husband Jeremy has been taking care of all of the vital administration dealing with all the endless shipping, lawyers, accountants and exchange rate complications. This project wouldn’t have got very far without him! I’m very excited about our first retreat there – Om Ceylon Yoga Retreat – in late January 2018, which is being led by Jax Lysycia, who is a complete yoga guru and a goddess.
The Big Bloom Room, Cheltenham
Louise from The Big Bloom Room has the most incredible eye for wonderful interior pieces, such as unbelievable bespoke mirrors and fabulous faux flowers. She sources really original pieces. I commissioned her to create this vintage-looking mirror for the huge hallway in Meda Gedara and what she produced is nothing short of a masterpiece. With an elephant etched into the back of the mirror, it is one of the most striking mirrors I’ve ever seen. She isn’t afraid to try new techniques and go out on a limb to produce real one-offs for her clients.
Law & Co, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester & Summertown, Oxford
Shopping in Notting Hill is a thing of the past for me, but Denise from Law & Co fills my seasonal wardrobe with a few fantastic little numbers which keep all the classic staples looking fresh. Brilliantly, she also sells Ash shoes which I can’t live without!
Arc Candles, Cheltenham
These have only just been launched by Cheltenham-based Paula and they are the very best candles on the market in my well researched candle opinion! The Autumn Woods is my favourite, although that’s a tough call because they are all such magnificent scents. I actually believe they are better than both Jo Malone and Diptyque – and they are made right here in Cheltenham! Everybody I know is getting one of these candles for Christmas – JOB DONE!
Instagram: arc candles
The Daffodil Restaurant, Cheltenham
This is my favourite restaurant outside London – we love it so much that we got married here. Tom Rains, the head chef, is a genius at keeping this old timer at the top of the restaurant leader board in the Cotswolds. Tom was Michelin trained by Marco Pierre White before going on to work at Claridges. He is such great source of gastronomic knowledge and kindly helped us create the menu that we have at Meda Gedara.
Tayler & Fletcher Auctioneers, Stow-on-the-Wold
This Stow-based auctioneers have regular sales at their Bourton on the Water sales room and it’s THE place to find antique bargains. For three years I attended all of their quarterly sales and picked up some ridiculous bargains like this dining table and chairs and corner cupboard that I had to stash in our home before we packaged everything up and put it in a container and sent it out to Sri Lanka. Every piece of furniture at Meda Gedara has been hand-picked by me and most of it was spotted at a Tayler & Fletcher auction. Be warned auctions are HIGHLY ADDICTIVE!!
Sara Hill from Hill & Home
Sara rummages through crazy places to find the most magical mix of eclectic wonders to furnish your home and make you smile. I used to walk past her shop on the way into town, but would never make it into town as I’d always end up marvelling at all her vintage pieces. One day I walked out with a 14ft Victorian ladder! Now she trades from Instagram. She is a fabulous finder!
Netherhampton Sale Room, Salisbury Auction Centre
This is the Mecca for all carpet, rug and textile buyers. It has five sales a year (next one Wed 6 December) and it’s where all the London dealers come to get their stock. Walking into the sale room to view the carpets before the auction fills me with immense excitement. It’s absolutely essential to view before you buy as the colours and handle of the carpets can be very different in the flesh to how they appear in the catalogue.
Om Ceylon Yoga Retreat: The Art of Yin Yoga and Somatic Meditation with Jax Lysycia at Meda Gedara, Sri Lanka, is from Sat 27 Jan to Sat 3 Feb 2018. From £700 for a shared room or £1,200 for a twin room, including all food & soft drinks and airport transfers (free taxi bus leaves at 2pm on Saturday 27 January from Colombo airport taking guests to the villa and returns at 8am on Saturday 3 February). For more information, contact Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07976 676139.