A COUPLE SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT STOOL FOR THEIR ENGLISH COUNTRY COTTAGE CAME UP WITH A BRIGHT BUSINESS IDEA.
PAUL DE ZWART AND ARIEL CHILDS have distilled life in the English countryside down to its essence, creating a cosy retreat in Dorset, a county three hours south-west of London. Their success in capturing the quintessential, homely country feel is worth noting, because they both come from very different worlds. Ariel was born in New York and grew up in the US, while Paul was born in the Philippines, the son of Dutch parents whose work meant they frequently moved house. Paul grew up in Italy and studied at Boston University, and had never lived in the same place for more than a few years until he moved to London. Ariel and Paul met in 1997 at Wallpaper* magazine, where they were creative director and founding publisher. Now Ariel is managing director of branding agency Winkreative, and Paul is managing director of Another Country, the contemporary craft furniture and accessories company he started from this Dorset cottage. Ariel and Paul had lived in a number of flats in London before they started looking for a country place they could escape to on weekends. When they bought this 17th-century gamekeeper’s cottage on the Dorset-wiltshire border back in 2000, it looked nothing like it does now. “We came across the house after months of searching, but it wasn’t the ideal house… it needed too much work,” says Paul. “However, it had some characteristics we liked. It is quite an unusual place, especially its location away from the road.” This cottage, which is surrounded by woodland where bluebells and wild garlic bloom in spring, was to become Ariel and Paul’s first joint home. It wasn’t until a decade later that the couple decided to renovate the cottage and create the home of their dreams. “The house was smaller,” says Paul. “We took the roof off, and removed some walls, doors and windows, and started again. Where a shed once stood, we built a garage and the garden house on top.” All the work was done using traditional building methods, and the interiors feature natural materials such as elm and slate. The result is an undeniably stylish country cottage. “We had to choose every single item, from the light switches to the colour of the walls,” says Paul. “Every decision has been ours, which makes it very personal.” Historically, life in this rural cottage was lived on two floors: there was a kitchen downstairs and two bedrooms
above. Today, the ground floor is home to the kitchen, living spaces and two bedrooms, each with views of the woods. From the entrance hall, a curved staircase winds up to the master bedroom, which occupies the entire first floor. There’s also a garden house, complete with a bathroom, which can be used as a playroom or to accommodate guests. Once the structural renovation was completed in 2010, it was time to furnish the house. Paul’s nomadic life and the couple’s many travels are evident the multicultural mix of styles. The pair chose furniture that would work well alongside family heirlooms, which have come from different eras and parts of the world. However, it was the hunt for a simple, well-made stool that was a turning point — and the beginning of a new business venture for Paul. The couple had a very clear idea of what they wanted, but couldn’t find it, so Paul contacted Dominic Parish — a local furniture and cabinetmaker — and had a three-legged stool made. That stool marked the birth of Another Country — it was the first piece in a collection of furniture called Series One, and Dominic became Paul’s business partner. Seven years later, the company has grown to manufacture a range of products inspired by British country and Shaker styles, as well as traditional Scandinavian and Japanese woodwork. The company opened a showroom in London’s Marylebone in 2014 and, over the years, new pieces and collections have been road-tested in the couple’s Dorset house. Paul and Ariel find peace and inspiration at their idyllic cottage, and their 12-year-old daughter Daphne has grown up sharing her parents’ love of the countryside. This is where the family go to escape the intensity of their fast-paced London lives and restore their equilibrium.
For more information about Another Country, go to anothercountry.com or visit Melbourne retailer Luke Furniture at luke.com.au