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A House in the English Countryside



The living room's overscaled cornice raises the ceiling height by going up into the roof. I painted the walls, with Mario Penati, to resemble squares of leather stitched together, which gives it a feeling a great warmth and cosiness. The rug is an early dhurry by Allegra Hicks; the coffee table has my photo of the Jaipur Jantar Mantar observatoryunder glass.


I designed this big bookcase for the corner of the same living room with a fall-front secretaire desk, with an inset tan leather writing-surface. When closed, the front has two panels of silver-leafed mirror. Little pigeonholes and small shelves on the face of the upper part give hours of fun arranging and rearranging objects.


This house in Oxfordshire needed an extra room, which I added in the form of an octagonal pavilion attached by a short, book-lined passage. I used the local vernacular of black boards on a base of brick and flint. The roof is held up, visually at least, by rustic columns: the trunks of fallen trees from the wood.


The interior, with a floor of oak laid in an octagonal pattern, and horizontal diamond windows high up, matching the pointed heads of the French windows. The elegant dining chairs and table were made in Turin in the 1950's. The plum velvet-covered sofa is Allegra Hicks's Flame design.


Here, a very low window in a high room suggested this treatment of a false Roman blind hiding the window head below a shaped pelmet.


The bedroom of the same house was all yellow, as a defence against the grey English light. A steel baldaquin frame on the bed was draped with lengths of homespun silk weaves bought in Delhi at the Khadi emporium (craft co-operatives set up by Gandhi.) The embroidered cushion with assorted symbols, and the Ottoman style bedcover, were also my designs.


I designed the chests beside the chimney to hold TV and stereo, their folding doors covered in Indian Bagh silk embroideries. I liked the idea of using these in the way that 18th century cabinetmakers used pieces of oriental lacquer. Above them is an 18 meter long Jain horoscope bought in Jaisalmer.


Looking through an open door painted with faux leather to the kitchen, which had a striped floor of alternating cherry and walnut boards. Beside it, an Egyptian patchwork hanging, a standard lamp designed by me with carved wooden blocks on a steel frame, a 60's Italian chair and an English gilt gesso table of 1730.


The pavilion, here seen from the side on a frosty winter morning, sits in an old walled garden.