Born in San Sebastian, in Spain’s Basque region, the artist and designer Monica Vinader studied fine arts in London. Her first job was in jewellery design – and from then on she was hooked. Her love of travel and accessible luxury have merged in her eponymous jewellery brand, which has become an industry leader in sustainable practices. She lives in Norfolk.
How long have you lived in the countryside?
I moved from London to the country 23 years ago with my husband, and now it’s very much home. We had been coming up from London to Norfolk, to my mother’s summer house, for years. Finally we decided to live here full time.
Were you brought up in the country?
I grew up in the seaside town of San Sebastian. I’ve always been happiest near the sea – that’s one of the many reasons we fell in love with this area.
Can you describe your home?
It’s a perfect family house with a special personality: eclectic and welcoming. The building is a mishmash of different periods, and we’ve filled it with all the things we’ve collected on our travels. It’s developed in an organic way, and over the years we’ve added to it and restored it. We’ve poured a lot of love into this house.
Do you have a favourite room?
Our living room, which is where we spend the most time – it’s the most relaxing place in the house. It’s full of light and has the best view of the terrace and pond, too. I have a Chinese coffee table that was my mother’s here: it brings a piece of the house I grew up in to my present home.
How do your surroundings influence your work?
I’m incredibly inspired by nature when I’m designing, and being surrounded by so much of it – from my garden to the beaches and marshes nearby – is a blessing.
Can you share your best-kept Norfolk secrets?
The Lookout is a lovely café near the entrance to Holkham beach. It’s the perfect place to grab a coffee after a walk on the sands. Socius in Burnham Market is a restaurant run by a wonderful husband-and-wife team and serves incredible modern British tapas. And the Tuscan Farm Shop, also in Burnham Market, is a great place to satisfy an Italian craving.
Which are your go-to shops and markets?
I love browsing at Bayfield Hall Antiques, near Letheringsett – you can find incredible one-off pieces. At Nomad and the Bowerbird in Wells, you get amazingly funky clothes for teens. And Gurneys in Burnham Market has amazing fresh fish and homemade breads and soups.
Which local sites would you recommend to a visitor?
Visit Holkham Hall (our offices are in the grounds) and Houghton Hall, both of which are open for tours. You’ll learn a lot about local history. Norfolk’s beaches are spectacular, but Holkham is my favourite – it’s untouched. And Blakeney Point is home to England’s largest grey seal colony.
What are your favourite country pursuits?
I love to walk. My favourite spots are always beaches – Holme is fantastic and usually less crowded. We have three working cocker spaniels and they need a lot of exercise.
What do you miss about the country when you’re in town – and vice versa?
I love being able to walk into my garden at home, or into the courtyard at our Holkham office, for fresh air and a mental refresh. That said, I love the energy of the city and I’m inspired by architecture, the interior design at new restaurants and hotels, and street fashion.
What do you love most about where you live?
Norfolk is fairly remote – it’s a good three-hour drive from London and it’s not on the way to anywhere, so it feels quite special. I love the landscape, the big skies and the light, and most of all I love the salt marshes and the sea, the way their colours change across the seasons.
Pictures from top: Monica Vinader; the light-filled interior of Vinader’s home; a wintry view of Holkham Hall (Alamy); Vinader’s eclectic style; Holkham beach (Alamy); fresh fish at Gurneys in Burnham Market (Alamy)