A name woven in tradition

AT HOME WITH: William Woods, the owner of Woods of Harrogate.

William Woods inherited the family business, Woods of Harrogate, at the age of 17. Before taking up the reins, he served an apprenticeship with a famous linen manufacturing company in Northern Ireland where he gained extensive technical knowledge on all aspects of the manufacturing process, from spinning and weaving to bleaching and dying. He then went to London, trained as an interior designer and subsequently worked at Heal and Son.

William is a member of the British Institute of Interior Designers. He presides over Woods, which is 116 years old and celebrated as one of the finest and most comprehensive linen shops in Europe. Its Interior Design Department is managing a wide range of projects, including an apartment in London, an Elizabethan house in Surrey, a manor house in Lincolnshire and a contemporary new-build in South Yorkshire.

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Woods of Harrogate Limited is at Prince Albert Row, 65/67 Station Parade, Harrogate. Tel: 01423 530 111, www.woodsofharrogate.com

Describe your style.

At Woods I work with a young team of designers whose aim is to create schemes that look like they have evolved over a period of time. A home environment should be relaxed, comfortable and welcoming and should never look like it has been self-consciously “designed”. While period and modern classic reflects my personal style, I believe that a successful scheme is one that is sympathetic to the house, reflects the owners aspirations and works with their lifestyle – and, of course, their budget.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I consider myself fortunate in that I travel all over the world to seek out the finest linens there are and to make sure that products we stock in Woods are unique. Wherever I go, I am inspired by the culture, the architecture, fashion – in short, everything around me. My family tell me I never switch off. Whether I am eating out in a restaurant, watching a play or a film, or simply out for a stroll in the country, it’s second nature to observe and file away in my head what I see.

Where do you shop for homeware?

Of course it’s Woods, because we sell just about everything you need for the home, from a traditional linen dishcloth or glass cloth for the kitchen to lovely china and glass for the dining table and the finest towels, bedding and bed linen. We even sell upholstery and antiques. However, of course I enjoy looking elsewhere and count Mulberry Hall in York and Liberty in London amongst my favourite UK haunts. When I’m travelling, I love to visit the Apple Store in Shanghai and Armani in San Francisco.

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Are there any designers/collections you’re excited about right now?

There are several:

Fox Linton – No 9 collection comprises Polka dot, floral and paisley prints in bold fresh colourways and has a lovely cottage feel.

Colefax – Larsen Collection 2011, with its contemporary metallic weaves, geometric prints and stripes in muted colourways.

Pierre Frey – Nomad Collection features heavy tapestry weaves in vibrant colours – it’s continental in style but warm and homely too.

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Zimmer Rohde – (Ardecora) Michelangelo Collection is a stunning collection in plain and patterned velvets and very dramatic.

What is your favourite piece of furniture and why?

I have a hand-carved, marble-topped console table, Louis XV1 style, which I inherited from my parents. It’s probably not my most valuable possession but it gives me pleasure and has sentimental value. It’s pieces like this that give a home its personality.

Where is your ideal home?

Right now, it’s a lovely cottage in High Birstwith, just outside Harrogate. My wife and I spotted it recently – it’s our dream home! I’m a Yorkshire man but my mother was Greek and I love sailing so I’d also be very happy having a boat of my own to sail around the Greek islands.

Your interiors wish list?

Fortunately, as we are so busy, we never seem to get around to decorating our own home, so my wife and I would love to redecorate our sitting room. We would start by throwing everything out apart from our special antiques and paintings.

What is the best item you’ve ever bought for your home?

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It is a specially commissioned painting of the Pump Rooms in Harrogate by the well-known artist, Jake Sutton.

How do you relax at the end of the day?

I love to eat out with friends and family. I’m an avid reader, so sitting down with a good book and a glass of wine makes me content and, in the summer months, my idea of relaxation is watching (not playing!) a good game of cricket.