A PERIOD ROMANCE This listed townhouse in West Sussex was lovingly restored
Rosemarie Fraser lovingly turned a feature-filled former lawyer’s office into a chic retreat, brimming with exquisite touches
When Rosemarie Fraser fell in love with a pretty Georgian townhouse in West Sussex, moving out of London was far from her mind. ‘I was simply on a sightseeing tour with a friend from abroad, who wanted to see examples of typical English houses,’ she says, ‘ but I spotted a For Sale sign outside this elegant property and it changed the course of my life.’
Located in an old market town, where cobbled streets lead to an ancient castle overlooking an unspoilt landscape, the house made a permanent impression on Rosemarie. So, a few days later, after her first viewing, she put her flat in Richmond on the market. ‘The irony is, I always imagined that if I moved to the countryside, a secluded garden and a parking spot would be non-negotiables,’ she reflects. ‘This house had neither, but its beautiful features won my heart instead.’
Once used as a lawyer’s office, the period property still had many of its original details, including cornices, doors and fireplaces. The previous owner had installed wooden flooring and an additional room featuring an apex roof, which Rosemarie now uses as an office. ‘Making it my own was relatively easy,’ she says.
Having inherited several fine antique pieces from her family, Rosemarie was able to combine these treasures with upcycled furniture and modern classics, such as Perspex tables and chairs, to striking effect. ‘Putting together an eclectic style has its pitfalls,’ she says. ‘I discovered that mixing different natural woods can look messy, but high-quality antiques and contemporary touches usually sit well together.’ To link her golden marquetry antiques with sleek, modern shapes, Rosemarie invested in burnt umber silk cushions, which matched the colour of the wood while softening the clean lines of the furniture.
Despite having three lively three grandsons – Thomas, 13, James, 11, and William, 6 – who often bring in mud from
the garden, aided by their Staffordshire bull terrier, Dexter, Rosemarie’s love of white rooms has not diminished since she decorated her first home. ‘A white background never dates – pale rooms always look fresh and glamorous to my eyes, especially if you add a hint of gold, like the lovely plates I found on holiday in Thailand,’ she muses. ‘Blue and white is another favourite colour combination of mine.’
In the dining room, she fashioned a tablecloth and chair cushions from a blue striped linen fabric for an elegant and informal effect, a motif repeated in the master bedroom scheme. The drawing room features rust and red velvet cushions to inject warmth. ‘They also help highlight the splash of colour in the stained glass windows,’ explains Rosemarie.
Part of the ground floor already accommodated a separate flat when Rosemarie moved in. ‘This is a huge asset, because I regularly have friends to stay and I like them to feel independent,’ she explains. ‘They can make their own coffee and get out of bed when they want.’
In her office, Rosemarie opted for a contemporary look, with a Perspex desk and leather chair. ‘Plants thrive behind the tall glass doors, which make the room feel like a conservatory, especially as I like to fill the windows with different foliage,’ she says. ‘This room has the best view of the garden.’
Rosemarie’s final project will be the transformation of her garden room, due for an imminent upgrade. ‘My grandchildren will have a say, no doubt, because it will be a perfect place for them to play on rainy days, as well as a peaceful spot for me to dine in on warm evenings. Moving here might not have been planned, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.’
Dining room This elegant area that leads off the kitchen has an ethereal feel. For a similar chandelier, try the Clarence, £850, India Jane. linen 25 Stripe in Indigo/peony tablecloth, £ 42.50m, Ian Mankin. The chair covers were made up by Falcon Fabrics,
DRAWING ROOM Rosemarie has added gold and copper accents to a tranquil white palette. Plain Arpage cushions in Rust, £37.50 each, India Jane. Patterned Chiara cushion, £82; Canna throw, £174, both Oka
OFFICE Glazing right up to the apex roof ensures Rosemarie’s study is filled with natural light. For a similar Perspex desk, try the Puro, £399, Dwell
KITCHEN Shaker-style units create a cosy, country feel. Cabinetry painted in Blue Grass eggshell, £55 per 2.5 litres, The Paint Collection at Fired Earth
BEDROOM The bed and built-in headboard are set at an angle on a platform to enjoy the best view outside. estrella bedspread, £225; Agatha cushion, £54, both oka. bedside table, £65, homesense
BATHROOM Gold accents and an Art Nouveau print lend an air of luxury. Try the orlando corner bath, £270, Victorian Plumbing