in a class of its own

Af­ter ca­reers in ed­u­ca­tion, Avrille and Doug Close made the de­ci­sion to down­size, and found smart ways to fit their trea­sures into their new home

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - Fea­ture AMELIA THORPE | Pho­tog­ra­phy ROW­LAND RO­QUES-O’NEIL

For a re­tired cou­ple, try­ing to fit their fur­ni­ture into a smaller house in Rut­land proved an in­ter­est­ing les­son in down­siz­ing

On re­tir­ing from their full-time jobs in ed­u­ca­tion, Avrille and Doug Close de­cided to chal­lenge them­selves. This in­volved the ad­ven­tur­ous cou­ple spend­ing sev­eral months in France, find­ing new pas­sions (horse rac­ing and art) and even rent­ing a Vic­to­rian Gothic pile.

Then a move from Hert­ford­shire to a cot­tage owned by their son in Rut­land in the East Mid­lands made the cou­ple come up with a new house rule. ‘We liked the area, but we didn’t know a soul,’ re­calls Avrille. ‘Doug and I agreed that we would never turn down an in­vi­ta­tion to any­thing, so we would make new friends and be­come in­volved in the lo­cal com­mu­nity.’

Their time spent in Rut­land was so suc­cess­ful, the cou­ple de­cided to find a place of their own close to their new cir­cle of friends. They found just what they were look­ing for in the form of a three-storey house, part of a for­mer hunt­ing lodge dat­ing back to the 17th cen­tury. ‘ We im­me­di­ately liked its homely feel and, although the prop­erty isn’t huge, the rooms are gen­er­ously sized,’ says Doug.

Their big­gest dilemma when they moved in was how to make best use of their ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of fur­ni­ture and china. ‘It took the re­moval men three days to de­liver every­thing,’ says Avrille, ‘and even though we made end­less trips to the char­ity shop, we still couldn’t fit every­thing – it all ended up fill­ing the triple garage.’

Need­ing help to down­size, the cou­ple turned to in­te­rior de­signer El­iz­a­beth Stan­hope. ‘Lizzie helped us de­velop ways of

bring­ing our some­times ran­dom col­lec­tions to­gether and en­cour­aged us to up­cy­cle,’ says Doug. ‘This not only saved us money, but it also meant we avoided fall­ing into the trap of ac­quir­ing yet more stuff.’

To cre­ate a sense of unity, walls are painted in soft shades of white, which also serve as a neu­tral back­drop for their large se­lec­tion of art works. Avrille par­tic­u­larly en­joys cre­at­ing stylishly grouped col­lec­tions around the house. ‘Things don’t need to be of the same vin­tage. I just like to make an in­ter­est­ing ar­range­ment,’ she says. ‘It might be a group of per­fume bot­tles on an an­tique tray or a wall of ar­tis­ti­cally ar­ranged prints and old dec­o­ra­tive mir­rors.’

While there is a strong sense of their love for all things French-vin­tage in their home, from toile de Jouy cur­tains to an­tique fur­ni­ture, the cou­ple also en­joy con­tem­po­rary de­sign, in­clud­ing shelv­ing units by Sir Ter­ence Con­ran and mod­ern ce­ram­ics in the sit­ting room. Now that they have fi­nally emp­tied the garage, are there any plans to move again? ‘I’m sure there are more in­ter­est­ing times ahead, but we will be stay­ing put as we feel very happy and set­tled here,’ says Avrille.

favourite item‘ Our shabby old mir­rors– some are beau­ti­ful as they are, oth­ers we re­painted’

SIT­TING ROOM Asym­met­ric shelv­ing gives the space a mod­ern feel. Bal­ance Al­cove shelv­ing by Ter­ence Con­ran, from £599, The Con­ran Shop KITCHEN-DINER Mo­hi­can, a con­tem­po­rary lim­it­ededi­tion print by US artist Lud­wig San­der, adds a warm burst of yel­low....

SIT­TING ROOM Light-coloured walls and linen up­hol­stery cre­ate a calm back­drop, bal­anced by a bright rug. Walls in Old White es­tate emul­sion, £ 43.50 per 2.5 litres, Far­row & Ball. So­fas and cush­ions, made to or­der, El­iz­a­beth Stan­hope In­te­ri­ors

home truths the Prop­erty Part of a 17th-cen­tury hunt­ing lodge Lo­ca­tion Rut­land ROOMS Hall, sit­ting room, kitchen-diner, two bed­rooms (one en suite), bath­room PUR­CHASED 2013 PRE­VI­OUS Prop­erty ‘ We used to live in a large cot­tage in the area,’ says...

GUEST BED­ROOM This ro­man­tic space was in­spired by French vin­tage style. Just Fab­rics has a range of toile de Jouy fab­rics, £15m. The French Bed­room Com­pany has sim­i­lar an­tique-style beds, from £800 BATH­ROOM A Shaker-style peg rail keeps tow­els close to...

MAS­TER BED­ROOM Sub­tle pat­terns and rich tex­tures add to the lux­u­ri­ous feel. Walls in Stone II pure flat emul­sion, £ 46.50 per 2.5 litres, Paint & Pa­per Li­brary

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