At home with the family behind Petersham Nurseries – who are ready to branch out
The living room Furniture throughout the house is a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces. Gael and Francesco Boglione are here joined by daughters (clockwise from left) Lara (with her son Achile, one), Ruby and Anna.
The hallway The frescoes, painted by Louis Laguerre in the 17th century (his work can also be seen at Blenheim Palace), were painstakingly restored. ‘They were all covered up, so we brought the house to life again really,’ says Gael.
The house As a cluster of hunting lodges, it dates back to 1680, but was altered in the early 19th century when a top storey and balcony were added.
The family behind south-west London’s oasis of greenery and great food, Petersham Nurseries, launch an exciting new venture. By Talib Choudhry. Photographs by Alexander James
Gael Boglione is the mistress of understatement, both in terms of the way she has decorated her elegant 17thcentury home in richmond, on the outskirts of west london, and the modest way she describes Petersham nurseries, the chic garden centre and restaurant that adjoins the house.
‘this place came about because it was at the end of our garden and when the previous owners retired they asked us if we’d take it over,’ australian-born Gael says of t he f lower-f illed g reen- houses and magical ‘café’ (awarded a michelin star in 2011 and 2012 while skye Gyngell was at the helm). ‘it was a commercial nurser y and we didn’t want to run it that way, so we just had a go and did our best.’
Concrete floors were replaced with earth, greenhouses were painted dark green and filled with a charming jumble of plants and architectural salvage. the inspiration for the hue – now dubbed Petersham Green – came from the conservatory at the home that Gael shares
with her former-insurance-broker Italian husband Frances co. The couple stripped back the interior after moving in with their brood (Lara, now 33, Anna, 29, Harry, 26, and Ruby, 24) in 1997.
‘We undecorated really, by taking all the junk out and paring it down,’ says Ga el .‘ There were brocades everywhere and so many swags that you could barely see out of the windows.’
Working closely with English Heritage, Gael and Francesco enlisted t he skill sofa number of crafts people to reinstate period features. Restoration specialists spent ‘months and months’ removing plasterboards in favour of historically correct lath-and-plaster work. The walls were then painted with natural pigments mixed by the artist Gerry King, providing a calm backdrop for the couple’ s contemporary art collection, including works by Gary Hume, Paula Rego and Damien Hirst.
While the paintings are mostly by British artists, Francesco’s Italian heritage is reflected in the furnishings (a 17 th- century Genove se chandelier hangs above the family’s dining table, laid with Murano tumblers) and the food. The edible-flower-sprinkled dishes served in the café combine the
‘We undecorated really, by taking all the junk out and paring it down’
The conservatory Zinc planters filled with Tasmanian Dicksonia ferns and classical sculptures fill the space.
Nurseries In a bougainvilleafilled greenhouse, potted plants adorn tables and vintage mirrors add a decorative touch.
The garden A striking sculpture, Here and There by Antony Gormley, is set into the lawn.
The dining room Built in 1929, the ballroom now functions as the main dining area in the house. The 17th-century Genovese chandelier is lit by candles.
The bedroom An 18thcentury French bed is covered with antique linen in the main bedroom of the cottage (the oldest part of the property), which is connected to the main house.