Our friends Ariel and Paul have a weekend cottage in the English countryside in Wiltshire. We’ve spent quite a bit of time at Rose Cottage, as it is called, over the last 10 years, and have watched it transform from being a weekend getaway for two, to a family home (they have a 7-year-old named Daphne), to a sometimes rental property. (Yes, you can rent it!) As you can probably tell from their lovely taste, both Ariel and Paul are in creative fields—they met when they were working at Wallpaper Magazine, and now Ariel is in business development at the advertising and branding agency Winkreative, and Paul is the founder of furniture company Another Country. We absolutely love Rosie, as the cottage is affectionately called, and their spare yet homey sensibility. We asked them a few questions while we were there over Thanksgiving, and picked up some nice design tips in the process.
Tell us about Rose Cottage: The house was a 17th century one-up one-down that had a series of extensions around it, done over the years. When we came we decided we would take everything down except the really original house, and then we reconceived our own extension which was around the core.
How bad was the shape? It had been well looked after, but it was damp and needed major modernization.
The kitchen and dining room didn’t exist. The inspiration was to have a main room for living dining and cooking, that was unlike what we have in London, which was a Victorian, very parceled off between dining and living. We like natural fabrics, wood, gravitate towards earth tones…and a certain sense of English farmhouse. The grey floor cushions were the first thing we bought for the house, and we bought them at Habitat, and they are the longest lasting item we’ve ever owned. We watch tv on them. They’re a table. They’re seats. They’re footrests. You can lounge out.
How much did it change for you when it became a rental? We did strip a lot of personal affects out, but the main crowning glory for me, is the larder, which now feeds my obsession of order. There are no more stacks of everything…each jar has its place. I can’t stockpile. That’s been very liberating. Stuff doesn’t go uneaten. I don’t have jars and jars of different relishes and mustards. We open it, we eat it.
“This (below) is a reprint of an image by photographer Seydou Keita. The actual photo is tiny, but this is a reprint done quite large.”
Tell us about the chandelier: It’s Piet Boon, designed for a company called Moooi, which means pretty in Dutch. We liked it because we felt the house could use some black, as an anchoring color, and we liked the clean classic modern lines. (And we thought it would be fun to bump our heads every time we get up from the table!)
This (above) is a view from the living room across the dining area and into the kitchen.
I love how the fridge and how everything is built in. And one of my favorite parts of the kitchen is how the dishwasher opens right across from the cabinet where all the plates, bowls, etc, are stored. I imagine how many steps that saves over the course of a year. Was this planned? We designed the kitchen so the counters the door of the dishwasher and the cabinet doors could be fully opened, but you could still walk through. We also like that counter is wide enough that we can cook, and visit with friends who sit across the counter, but don’t hover. One of my other favorite things is that it’s enclosed enough, that even though it’s an open plan, I can turn the lights off, and forget the kitchen is there.
Tell us about the black stools (from Another Country, Paul’s furniture company): They’re elongated stools, with the three different height footrests. We put them in the house because they balance the chandelier.
Tell us about the framed pics in the guest toilet: They’re a collection of odd little things that were given to me that I wanted to keep out and I don’t really like picture frames on tables, so I put them all in that little bathroom. The scale seemed right.
I love the sitting room. Tell us about how it’s used, and how you feel in it? We use it to take afternoon naps. It’s also where we read the paper when Daphne is wathching cartoons in the living room. The daybed was a wedding present from Paul’s parents, and it’s Dutch 18th century. The pillows in the window seats are Josef Frank, from Svenskt Tenn in Stockholm, where Ariel spent a lot of time, when she was the creative director of Wallpaper Magazine.
Tell us about the adorable beds in Daphne’s room: They’re new, and they’re actually handmade and come from Gloucestshire. I sent a sketch of what I was looking for and they made them. No, they weren’t cheap, but you only buy them once, and they’re the only piece of furniture in the room. I also wanted her to feel that her bed at Rose Cottage was like home.
The landscape pictures are of the land just behind their property, which is called the Oyster Coppice. You can wander through the woodlands, and across the wide fields. The whole area is so lovely—there are plenty of lovely walks, nearby pubs, castles, and Stonehenge and Avebury are relatively close by.