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Inspiration: A House in the Cotswolds

When Annemaria first stepped into this Cotswolds house she knew, instantly, that she wanted to live there. The house seemed to wrap itself around and welcome her. Once she had negotiated its purchase, she investigated its 250-year old history with the help of Nick Barrett, the house detective, and found that it was originally built as a hostelry -- it was then that she realised that her subconscious may have been guiding her as her family had run a string of pubs, a tradition which she carries on herself with her own bar and restaurant.

The house had also once been a vicar's house, then a draper's and, when she bought it, there was a newsagent's shop on the ground floor. Once she had obtained planning permission for change of use and listed building consent, she and her husband, Stuart, set about restoring its original structure and replacing the shop's front windows with ones more in keeping with the rest of the house. In fact during the course of the restoration they had to gut the entire house. "If I had known from the beginning what it was going to be like, I probably wouldn't have started" says Annemaria. "And I'm sure anyone who has ever done a renovation will say exactly the same thing!"

After the structure of the house had been modernised, she used all her interior design skills, honed at the Inchbald School of Design and from running other projects, to put her own mark on the interior of this traditional country residence. Rather than furnishing in the conventional country house style she has drawn on an eclectic mix of influences from both past and present. "If you buy things you love, you'll find that somehow they come together" is her philosophy - and this has been borne out in practice, somehow it does all fit together; creating a "new century look" that harmonises modern elegance and functionality with retrospective elements from the past.

On the ground floor, instead of keeping the rooms separately divided, she has made an area for entertaining that encompasses cooking, dining and living. Here you will find a traditionally styled George Smith sofa, there you will see prints of movie icons Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, here a period fireplace, there the clean lines of a modern dining table and intriguing tall lamp stands by Porta Romano.

In the kitchen Annemaria cooks on a Lacanche stove and has a butler's sink set in a large oak draining board, but these traditional elements sit comfortably alongside an American-style stainless steel refrigerator and cabinets with long modern D-handles. She used a local firm to build the solid pine cabinets which were then painted to create a cool sophisticated look at a fraction of the cost of similar bespoke kitchens.

Upstairs, past large French posters, sits a classic cherry wardrobe made by Chanels as a modern version of the traditional Chinese wedding cabinet. On this floor she has created an enormous en-suite bedroom that stretches from the bedroom through a dressing room to a bathroom. There is also a library sitting room that has chairs that Annemaria has glamourised by taking off the the button-backed leather and replacing with tiger skin fabric. True to her Scottish roots, she is keen on finding bargains - the table is MDF that has been painted to produce a stunning effect. The idea was "to create a private place upstairs and a public place downstairs where we can hold parties and have friends over to dinner."

The top floor is given over to further bedrooms where the loft space has been taken away so the the ceilings go right up to below the roof giving a feeling of spaciousness and light. Here the mood changes to exposed beams and country style furniture.

While Annemaria has styled the main rooms of the house, Stuart was given free rein in the cellars that run the length and breadth of the house. Here he has created a homely den with deep sofas and a pool table.

Going outside to the garden, via the practical boot room, you will find a gravelled courtyard followed by lawns and planting rising in steps up the hillside to a vantage point where there is a summerhouse and barbecue area. "It's a long way to carry a tray of drinks from the house", smiles Annemaria, "but it's worth the walk to be in a different environment and look back at our house." And they can look back too with great satisfaction at the stunning result of all their hard work - from sanding the floors to painting to sourcing furniture - which Annemaria and Stuart carried out over the space of two years restoring their gem of a house.

The living room with dining area.

The living room.

The kitchen with range by Lacanche and painted pine cabinets by Parlour Farm.

The library sitting room with chairs in tiger skin fabric.

The main bedroom.

One of the guest bedrooms.

The rear elevation of the house with courtyard and garden.



Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Listed Property Owners' Club.

House history research by Nick Barrett
07957 319160.

Building work:
Building Solutions, Gloucester 01452 304490.

Stonework by Wells Masonry 01666 504251.

Kitchen built by
Parlour Farm, Cirencester
01285 885336.

Cooking range by Lacanche.

Refrigerator by Smeg.

Sofas by George Smith.

Armchairs by Peter Dudgeon 0207 589 0322.

Lamps by Porta Romano
01420 23005.

Black and white pictures from Hulton Getty, Chelsea 020 7376 4525.

Other pictures from the Portfolio Collection 01572 770719.

Bookcases from Ligne Roset.

Mirrors from Simpsons 01277 374541.

Coffee table by Andrew Martin 020 7225 5403.

Side table by Catherine Memmi from Harrods.

Chinese style cabinet from Channels.

Bedroom furniture from The Conran Shop.

Accessories from Lombok.


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