leap of faith

In­te­rior de­signer Hen­ri­ette von Stock­hausen gave her imag­i­na­tion free rein when it came to dec­o­rat­ing her home, with glo­ri­ously colour­ful re­sults


A for­mer sta­ble block in Dorset has been con­verted into a quirky, char­ac­ter-filled home

Hen­ri­ette von Stock­hausen makes no se­cret of her pas­sion for col­lect­ing. ‘I’m a bit of a mag­pie,’ she says. So it’s no sur­prise to dis­cover that the con­verted sta­bles in Dorset where the in­te­rior de­signer lives with her hus­band, Mark, and three chil­dren is a colour­ful trea­sure trove. The rooms are filled with an eclec­tic mix of art, fam­ily heirlooms and sou­venirs from all over the world.

When Hen­ri­ette ini­tially went to view the prop­erty, first im­pres­sions were far from favourable. The house hadn’t been lived in for sev­eral years and was in a sadly ne­glected state. It was even in­fested with ro­dents, so a head-to-toe ren­o­va­tion was re­quired.

Hen­ri­ette knew that, above all, the ren­o­va­tion needed to pro­vide a practical liv­ing space that would suit the needs of her grow­ing fam­ily. A key fea­ture was the stream­lined, con­tem­po­rary kitchen, which she de­signed her­self. ‘I wanted some­thing sim­ple and easy to clean,’ she says. Hen­ri­ette opted for sleek white cab­i­nets and also pro­duced the con­crete work­sur­faces, us­ing home­made crate frames lined with black bin bags.

An­other stand-out fea­ture is the un­usu­ally po­si­tioned stair­case, which leads straight down from the first-floor land­ing to the din­ing room. ‘It re­minds me of my child­hood, when I’d sit at the top of the stairs and watch my par­ents’

din­ner par­ties,’ says Hen­ri­ette. ‘I love the idea that my chil­dren can do the same.’

With the struc­tural works com­plete, Hen­ri­ette turned her at­ten­tion to the in­te­rior de­sign. As the co-founder of VSP In­te­ri­ors, dec­o­rat­ing her own home of­fered a great op­por­tu­nity to in­dulge her per­sonal sense of style and give her imag­i­na­tion free rein. ‘I was ready to let loose and just wanted to have fun with it,’ she says. Hen­ri­ette’s new con­ver­sion is the perfect home for all the trea­sures she’s col­lected over the years. ‘In my job I see so many won­der­ful things,’ she says. ‘So I stashed them away and waited for the right time to use them.’

De­spite its spa­cious di­men­sions, the house is cosy and wel­com­ing and re­flects Hen­ri­ette’s love of trav­el­ling. The sit­ting room is a mix of Moroc­can and Ar­gen­tinian gau­cho style, while the vi­brant colours of the mas­ter bed­room have a dis­tinctly Mex­i­can feel. Hen­ri­ette is also a keen horse rider, which ex­plains the eques­trian-themed art­works. ‘I treated my­self to those pic­tures to re­mind me of happy times,’ she says.

Hen­ri­ette has also in­cor­po­rated de­sign el­e­ments that give a nod to her Euro­pean her­itage. ‘I grew up in Aus­tria and Ger­many, where there are antlers ev­ery­where,’ she says. In her own home decorative antlers serve as or­na­ments and also as quirky coat hooks.

Now that the project is com­plete, Hen­ri­ette and Mark are de­lighted with the re­sults. ‘I love ev­ery sin­gle part of our house – I’m so pleased with how it’s turned out,’ says Hen­ri­ette. ‘And the best thing of all is that ev­ery room I walk into has some­thing that makes me smile.’

In­spi­ra­tion ‘Trav­el­ling to in­ter­est­ing places is one of the things I en­joy most in life and I pick up lots of ideas on ev­ery trip’

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1& 2 SIT­TING Room ‘I fell in love with the elab­o­rate wall­pa­per the sec­ond I saw it,’ says Hen­ri­ette. Ver­dure lead Blue wall­pa­per, £112 per roll, Zof­fany at Chapel In­te­ri­ors. Séraphin metal pen­dant lamp, £220, maisons du monde. Far­row & Ball’s Charleston Gray es­tate emul­sion, £ 43.50 per 2.5 litres, is a good match

Hall Vi­brant teal walls cre­ate an in­stant im­pact. For sim­i­lar paint, try lit­tle Greene’s Can­ton ab­so­lute matt emul­sion, £ 42 per 2.5 litres. Homes Di­rect 365’s ma­hogany French-style bench, £ 450, is an el­e­gant al­ter­na­tive

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1 KITCHEN-DINER Hen­ri­ette com­mis­sioned the por­trait of her hus­band’s Har­ris hawk, Minty. Colour­ful Mex­i­can pat­tern cush­ion, from £22, red­bub­ble, is a bright de­sign. try Scum­ble goosie’s Nordic wooden sofa, from £999

2 BATH­ROOM Traver­tine wall tiles and an an­tique chan­de­lier give this space a lux­u­ri­ous look. Corinth honed filled traver­tine wall tiles, from £27sq m, Man­darin Stone, are sim­i­lar. oban mir­ror, £235, oka, would also work well here


3 MAS­TER BED­ROOM A pat­terned rug and striped throw in­ject vi­brant colour into this clas­sic scheme. John Lewis sells kilim rugs, from £120 each. bom­bay knit­ted lamb­swool throw, £195, gabrielle Vary, is an al­ter­na­tive de­sign

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