The Floors in This Surrey Home Are Made of Actual Gold

And yet, it’s surprisingly comfortable! In collaboration with Huggle.

By: Laurel Pantin

There are many, many ways to do statement-making homes. You could go all out with color and pattern, or look for a glass-walled cabin by the sea. You could let a renowned interior designer have her way with the space, or invite all your designer friends to make pieces for your downtown loft. Or, if you’re Valerie Stark, you could design a massive garden with a greenhouse, a grotto, a cinema with the softest fur throws on pillowy couches for your friends to lounge on, and an *actual* spa that’s better than most of the professional ones we visit.

Stark’s Surrey home has all of those things—it’s huge and rambling, with more surprise rooms and delightful elements than we can list—but more than anything, it’s comfortable. Think massive-entryway-closet-with-shearling-slippers-in-every-size-for-your-guests comfortable.

By now you’ve heard all about the Huggle founder’s app, and you’ve delved deep into her closet, but if you’re anything like us, you’re probably dying to see the rest of that massive home. Well, the time has come!

Click through to (finally!) get the full tour of her space.


“I wanted to have this long corridor from the front entrance to the backyard. In the summer if you want to open both doors, you can enter the house and see straight to the garden. I didn’t want anything in the way.”

“I’ve lived here for five years, and when I moved in it was basically just a box. The bedroom stayed the same in terms of layout, but we designed everything else—from the wallpaper to the lights, everything, it was all done from scratch.”

“I studied comparative literature and history, and it’s one of my passions. In Russia, literature is a very important part of the culture. When you’re a kid they give you a summer reading list of about thirty books, and you have a three-month break from school and have to read all the books over the summer. They would be Russian classics, English classics, and French classics. In my family, everyone read, my family was obsessed with reading. We had a big library.”

“I just love books. There are a lot of historical things in Russia that have been destroyed. Because the houses that published those books may close one day, I thought I would travel to Russia and literally buy everything that was good quality. Slowly, after probably three or four years, I built this collection of books. I did the same with English and American authors as well. My future kids will have everything they need in this library.”

“I had this idea that when you move from one space to another, you want to discover things—the house has a flow. I want them to discover colors, discover patterns and I also wanted it to be super cozy. I have been to so many houses where they have all of these different living rooms, and, like, five dining rooms, and you can see that people never use them. I wanted every single room to be used.”

“I’ve always liked purple. It is one of my favorite colors. The fabric [for this couch] is wonderful, and since it’s quite a big room, you want to have some very bright accents. This room had to have character, and that’s why I went for something very bright.”

“A lot of my friends say that when they come to the house it’s very quiet, calm, and relaxing. I have two friends who come over and just sleep here. We weren’t building it for ourselves; we were building it for our friends and relatives. We want them to feel comfortable. If they want to stay for a week or a month, they’ll feel comfortable.”

“It’s hard to describe, but every time I choose any pottery or ceramics for the house, I want them to be inviting, friendly, and cozy. Everything needs to be warm. The thing about art is you can’t describe how everything makes you feel, but you just know that it feels right.”

“I maybe have played pool once; this was built for friends. I often ask people what they’d like, and they all said a pool table. I said no to a popcorn machine because I don’t want to have any extra food in the house. [laughs] I wanted this room to be bright and kind of crazy. This green sofa is the craziest. It’s quite dark because it’s a party room, so it can afford to have bright colors. And I actually drew this carpet myself. There is [a] company in Chelsea Harbor that specializes in carpets, and I picked the colors and drew the pattern, and they agreed to make this bespoke carpet.”

“The bar was 100% inspired by 5 Hertford Street, LouLou’s club. I went there when they just opened and was staring at a similar bar. It was like staring into a fire, it fascinated me! I tried to take a picture, but because it is a membership club, they said no. I had to call a few different designers to find out who made it. I thought it was a nice touch in the cinema. You don’t want to have something too bright because when there’s a screening, you don’t want to distract people from it. It looks great."

"We tried to make it as cozy as possible without making it too bright and cinema-like. You want a cinema to be dark.”

“The spa gets used every single week, but not necessarily by me. If I invite friends over, I don’t use it, and they use it. You know when the therapist would leave the room in the end, and they wait outside? I would take pictures of every single brand of everything in the room, and I’d be stripping off the sheets and finding out all of the brand names for the equipment. That’s how I slowly built the spa room. The main inspiration was the Royal Mansour in Marrakech. Marrakech is one of my favorite places in the world. Everything about it is amazing, and the spa is so impressive. I’ve been there a few times, so when we decided to build the spa room I took pictures of every single detail there. One of the most important things is mosaic floor. The silver rings are covered with white gold, and it’s the most precious floor in the whole house. They spent months doing the floor. I remember the guy would stay until 1 AM working on it, and I would cook for him in the evening.”

“I wanted it to be very special. I really wanted to work with colors. That’s what I did with the bedrooms; one is pink, one is blue, one is yellow. When people come over, I always think, ‘This person suits this color bedroom.’ It’s all about making the house super cozy.”

“One of my favorite designers, his name is Francis Sultana; he is the most amazing personality. He looks like an actual copy of Freddie Mercury. He is super creative, and as a human being he is nice and sweet. He made a lot of bespoke things in the house, and there are probably five or six items made by him in this room. They’re amazing. The centerpiece is the bed. It’s like sleeping in cloud. It has a bespoke headboard, and then we built everything around it."

"Every piece of art, I chose myself. We’re not art collectors. We don’t invest in art; it’s all about how it looks and how we feel about it. If a painting [sells] for 20 pounds, that’s fine, as long as I feel great about it.”

“I myself am not a big fan of swimming, but my mother is. Whenever she comes to stay, she uses the pool every single morning. All of my friends love the swimming pool.”

“The greenhouse is essential in every garden because if you want to grow seedlings to plant, you have to have a green house. It was built for different types of plants. There’s underground heating because we want to get as much as we can from the season."

" It can get quite hot in there in the winter. We want to be able to have mature plants by spring. We constantly change things, and the rotation of the plants is important because you can’t grow the same plants in the same spot every year. They need different minerals in the soil, so you need to constantly rotate them.”

“In one part of the garden, we have lemons and a couple of citrus plants. We have strawberries, cucumbers, and all the greens. We grow herbs year-round.”

“Because we grow a lot, I pickle the tomatoes and the cucumbers. We also make preserves and jams. In total we have 300 different berry bushes. We have raspberries, cranberries, gooseberries, black currants, red currants, white currants… literally the idea was to have everything that was possible to grow in this climate. Even goji berries!”