COUN­TRY SEAT

A COU­PLE SEARCH­ING FOR THE PER­FECT STOOL FOR THEIR ENGLISH COUN­TRY COT­TAGE CAME UP WITH A BRIGHT BUSI­NESS IDEA.

Country Style - - HOME - WORDS CRISTINA GIMENEZ PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DAVIDE LOVATTI

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

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