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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Love at first (in)site - Cole Park, Wiltshire

Hey there!

Roaming up and down the Web, I've got stunned by this gorgeous article from Architectural digest magazine and I felt the strongest need to share it with everyone.

♥♥ Lavish English Country house 
From meticulously manicured gardens to interiors 
layered with centuries-spanning furnishings and objects, 
designer Anouska Hempel’s English country house is an aesthetic tour de force

Designer Anouska Hempel always wanted to live in a house with a moat. Her husband, financier Sir Mark Weinberg, was keen to raise their children in the unspoiled English countryside of Wiltshire, west of London. So it seemed miraculous when, some 30 years ago, the couple found Cole Park, a historic manor that met both criteria. In the decades since—during which time Hempel (already an influential hotelier) expanded her interior design practice into an internationally esteemed firm—an extraordinary home has taken shape.

Cole Park, the manor that designer Anouska Hempel shares with her husband, Sir Mark Weinberg, in the countryside of Wiltshire, England, dates from the mid-16th century. A profusion of books and decorative objects top an ottoman in the reception room.

Built on the site of a medieval deer park, the earliest part of the house dates from the 1550s. A series of additions and alterations over the centuries has produced a structure with an asymmetrical T shape and a façade that is a mélange of Tudor, Queen Anne, and Georgian. The labyrinthine interiors encompass some 20 rooms and ten fireplaces, which Lady Weinberg, as Hempel is known, likes to have lit whenever she and Sir Mark are in residence, regardless of the season. The decor is an ever-evolving combination of traditional Englishness and exotic Orientalism, characterized by deep colors and ingenious theatrical effects.

In the sitting room, a lantern designed by Hempel for Charles Edwards hangs above Regency sofas covered in a striped linen. The mixed-media work over the fireplace is from Robert Heindel’s “The Protecting Veil” series, and the Javanese-inspired slatted screen was custom made.

“I had a very strong, very straightforward vision right from the beginning,” Hempel says. “I’m a conservationist at heart, so I didn’t want to lose any of the house’s heritage. But my role is to enhance—to make things look as good as they can at every level.” Her boldest move was to add 27 windows, bringing light into the attic and kitchen and giving a gloomy first-floor bedroom an idyllic view of the gardens.

An Italian hand-painted chandelier complements the breakfast room, where antique porcelain plates are displayed over the Georgian mantel.

Upon entering the front door of Cole Park, visitors are welcomed into a reception room divided by an inventive glass screen that features antique handwritten documents sandwiched between the panes. The result is a narrow vestibule in front, and on the other side a snug lounge. The adjacent sitting room sets an opulent tone with bold red-and-white-striped linen upholstery, a ceiling lamp suspended from silken swags, and a richly polished walnut bookcase. Every surface brims with bowls, boxes, and precious curiosities.

The second-floor landing is furnished with Hempel-designed daybeds upholstered in velvet; the large portraits are both 17th-century English School, while the mirror is Regency.

In the master bedroom, a caned armchair is pulled up to a 19th-century Louis XVI–style desk with side leaves; the curtains are of a customized J. Robert Scott silk.

Just beyond lies a distinctive main dining room. “I use color sparingly,” says Hempel, “but when I get going I extend it to everything.” Here, green is carried from the curtains and tablecloth to the botanical prints on the walls to the plants (some real, some artificial) that crowd the table and sideboards. Guests can almost imagine themselves on a mossy bank in a forest.

An array of 18th- and 19th-century prints line the master bath,
 alongside French brass café mirrors and antique sconces.

The verdant dining room isn’t the only place to eat. There is also the Japanese-style kitchen, which is outfitted with a lacquered beech table, and a breakfast room ornamented with a collection of antique porcelain plates above the finely carved mantel. Outdoors is a leafy paved dining terrace that is surrounded by topiary and stone obelisks and looks onto formal gardens. And across the moat stands an enclosure of tall, square-cut hornbeam hedges with a monumental Belgian-stone table at the center, shaded by catalpa trees on either side. Nicknamed the Cathedral, it’s an enchanting setting for summertime breakfasts and evening drinks.

Hempel conceived the Oriel Room’s bed, which is wrapped in burlap, velvet, and rope cord.

“Everything is a movable feast,” Hempel says. She has even had a dining table hauled up the great staircase to the second-floor landing so that guests can eat in view of her collection of 17th-century English portraits. Hung on red walls and grouped with Ottoman-style divans upholstered in velvet, the paintings suggest a royal court rife with decadence and intrigue.

In the adjoining bath, a panel of circa-1730 Dutch scenic tiles decorates the wall above a Victorian tub; the cachepots are Chinese, and the handled vessel is 19th-century Italian.

The bedrooms, some with canopy beds festooned in silk, velvet, and lace, all have clear-cut personalities—and, in some cases, evocative names. The Napoleon Room is decorated in dramatic black and gold, while the master bedroom features a sumptuous mulberry-and-khaki scheme Hempel describes as “full of romance and rhythm, conjuring gypsy caravans and traveling through Turkey.” The Oriel Room is softer and lighter, its blue and white hues echoing the adjoining bath’s tiles, which include 18th-century Dutch panels as well as trompe l’oeil scenes conceived by Hempel.

The room’s vanity is covered in trompe l’oeil tiles painted by Kaffe Fassett according to a Hempel design.

The top floor, containing four guest rooms, is a very different experience. Airy and pale, it is marked by an abundance of natural wood and linen, with occasionally arresting details: A bathroom wall has been painted with meticulous trompe l’oeil woodwork to complement the exposed oak beams of the bedrooms.

American-oak beams crisscross the ceiling in
 a top-floor guest room; 
Pakistani low chairs at the foot of the bed are cushioned with cashmere pillows by Hempel.

“I’m never short of inspiration,” she says. “There are always new ideas—and new adventures.”

Not shabby, I'd say.
What do you think?

♥♥ Pinky Honey


  1. I love seeing interiors like this - really great for inspiration, but overall the look is a bit much for me! I like the last picture best of the top floor, the simplicity of the wood and plain white bed linen. I like clean lines.

    But the blue and white theme in the bathroom is pretty beautiful - might have to steal that idea!

    Thanks for sharing!

    P x

    1. Feel free to steal it, dear. :D
      Myself, I love the Louis XVI–style desk. It was (still is!) my forever-dream to have one great writing desk..


  2. My word, this is one of those jaw-droppingly incredible homes that I have laid eyes on in a very long time. It's the kind of abode where each room seems at once a mystery story and a fairy tale in the same go. So intriguing, richly layered and woven with grand beauty. Marvelous find, dear Marija!

    ♥ Jessica

    1. I agree with you on this one - it truly is a great "little place". :D
      Anouska Hempel sure knew how to steer her talent and money.

      Have a great day, dear!