COTE DE TEXAS: New Prince of English Design

New Prince of English Design


I was so THRILLED to see the cover of the new House & Garden showing the attic bedroom of Ben’s country house.  


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Ben?  Come on!!!!  Ben Pentreath, of course!!

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Pentreath is the architect and interior designer turned shop owner turned blogger turned darling of English design.  He is charmingly British and seems to have quite the Midas Touch.  His fans are legion and loyal and he appears to be friendly and fun.   I only wish I knew him personally.

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After graduating with a degree in architecture and art history, Pentreath worked for the highly regarded British architect Charles Morris.  He followed this with a move to New York City, where he did a five year stint with Fairfax & Sammons.   Back in London, he teamed up with Prince Charles’ Foundation.  Not too shabby!!  He opened his shop in 2008 with Kiwi designer Bridie Hall and from then on his popularity has grown and grown and grown.

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His shop’s success is due to Londoners who happen upon its Bloomsbury address and to all the world-wide online shoppers.  His blog, appropriately titled “Inspiration” helped spread the word of Pentreath & Hall. 

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The shop.   Ben’s chair, Bloomsbury, is a store favorite. 

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But, Pentreath’s main focus is his Architecture & Interior Design business, where his firm works on both residential and commercial accounts, such as this hotel above. 

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His interiors are an interesting mix of English Classic design and a youthful turn on midcentury design.

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His portfolio is growing quite large, and his social life, which the public follows through his many social media entries, seems very full.  Oh, and there is also his best selling book and a new one coming out.  Yikes!!!!  I’m not sure how he manages it all and seems to do it so beautifully.


Pentreath’s new book – PREORDER by clicking on the picture.

 

Ben’s 2012 book.  Order by clicking on the picture.

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And then there are Ben’s clients.  The famous set are said to include Sarah Jessica Parker and Liv Tyler, and those are just the ones we know of.   His clientele list is closely guarded.   The Prince and Princess of Cambridge, or Wills & Kate, are said to be clients. 

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Apparently Pentreath is head of Wills & Kate’s renovation of their country house Anmer Hall at Sandringham.  There have been lots of rumors, and it’s well accepted that Ben does have this job, although he will never confirm nor deny this – on the record. 

Pentreath’s been called a younger Nicholas Haslam and Robert Kime.  But I don’t agree with either comparison.  Neither Haslam nor Kime used mid century designs in their work, a look that Ben obviously fancies.I first noticed Pentreath when I saw his London apartment:

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That wall with the antique map in Pentreath’s apartment!  So perfect!  Besides his apartment in London, Ben and his husband Charlie McCormick have a country house in Dorset which is uber attractive.  (Copies of the map of London seen above HERE.)   

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The house, built in 1820, is a parsonage – once the home for the clergy from the church next door.  Ben had known about the house since he was a young boy and when he found it was available for rent – he decided to move in with a 10 year lease.  The house needed repairs and Ben has done them, but not going overboard.  He is keeping in mind it is a rental. 

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Pentreath has spent much time developing the landscape and gardens, especially on this side of the house.  Here, you can see its two large bay windows that look out onto the church.

Pentreath’s instagram is a personal favorite and is much loved by his many fans.  His photos of the Old Parsonage, as his country house is named, are particularly alluring – and I love to watch how he updates the parsonage and all the changes he makes.So, it was especially exciting to see his house on the cover of the new House & Garden and to compare how it looks today with how it once looked when he first moved in.    I pulled some of his “Before” pictures of the house to compare it to the way it looks in the magazine. 

Entry Hall:

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House & Garden:  The entry has a stone flag floor which is so typical of English country houses.  Ben put in the wallpaper a few years ago.   The door with the arched transom leads to the living room.

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Here’s a view looking the opposite way into the kitchen.  You can see the stairs with its red and white runner here.

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Before:  And this view – straight from the front door that looks into the dining room.  Pentreath took this photo right after he had painted the dining room deep purple and was still hanging paintings.

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Today:  And finally – the view from the front door looking to the dining room with its now painted blue walls.  Wellies and canes stand ready for the many country walks Ben and Charlie take.

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And, in the entry hall, to the left of the front door is the powder room – with its encaustic tiled floor.  Pentreath hung a collection of prints here – the room is painted Farrow & Ball’s Wet Sand, just like the kitchen (was.)


Living Room:

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House & Gardens:   The living room.  The star of the room is the paint color.  Ben says that when he first moved in, he painted all the walls in the house a quiet gray.  But eventually he grew bored of this color and in here, the walls are now an English pink, custom made for Ben by Papers and Paint.  The color is now in their line and is called Parsonage Pink.   At the window are curtains made of ticking fabric.

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The yellow sofa is another star of the room – the Katzsic Sofa from Max Rollitt.  Covering the ottoman is a needlepoint by Schumacher (which is a personal favorite.)  Behind the sofa is a piano.   The small black chair is from Pentreath’s shop. The prints on the back wall have changed throughout the years and today there are ferns there.   You can really see the beautiful pink color of the walls here.

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House & Gardens:  this shows the prints have been changed and are now part of a collection of ferns which also hang in his London apartment.

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A photo of the piano behind the sofa and a view of the ferns.

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Today:  the view towards the bay window which overlooks the church.  The two bay windows were added some time after the parsonage was first built in 1820.

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Before:    Before the room was painted pink – it was gray, although in this photo it looks a bit green.

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Before:  And another very early photo of the gray walls which shows the table behind the sofa and here, Ben had hung a map on the wall, which I love.  You can see the rug layered over the seagrass, another very English look.  These are Ikat lampshades which he sells in the shop.  Today he has marbleized paper shades here, which he also sells.

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Before:  Another much earlier view of the gray walls – the difference is stunning.  The pink walls of today look beyond fabulous and this is from someone who loves gray.  Hmmm…

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Before:  Finally, Ben moved to the Old Parsonage in 2009 – before he was dating Charlie.  This photo shows a very, very early version of the living room – without the fabulous mirror on the mantel, the ottoman/coffee table, and the piles of pillows.  It’s interesting to see how far the room has come – from a quiet gray space to the warm, cluttered-filled pink living room:

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House & Garden:   Today!  Love!!! 

The Front Door and Garden Door:

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Whenever I show a house on the blog, I usually draw a crude floorplan so that I can understand exactly how the rooms are laid out.  I was really surprised when I drew this and realized that the garden door is not the front door to the house.  Instead that door leads directly into living room.

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You can see the garden door on the right – where it enters directly into the living room.

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The garden door – in the living room.

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The front door is at the left side of this photo - off the street and driveway, which you can’t see in any pictures.

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A view into the living room from the garden door with its new roof which Ben built the first year he lived here.

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In the entry hall, in the mirror – you can see the wood paneled front door with the beautiful transom above it.  Stone steps lead down from the driveway to the front door.

  Dining Room:

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House & Garden:  This photo showed a small view of the dining room, recently painted in a vivid blue – “St. Gile’s Blue” by Farrow & Ball.   The lamps and shades seen throughout are from Pentreath’s shop.

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Another view of the blue dining room set for lunch, with its orange curtains and seat cushions.  A rug is layered over the seagrass pieces.

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The bay window looks out at the church.

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Before:  After living in the Old Parsonage for around five years with gray walls all that time – Ben painted the dining room “Plum” from Paper and Paints. He changed out the ticking curtains and seat cushions to warm it up to match the vivid wall color – which he said looked wonderful at evening dinner parties.   The purple lasted around two years until he recently painted it the vivid blue – a color chosen by Charlie.

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Before:  The gray walls, ticking curtains and seat cushions – all gone now.

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Before:  the view of the fireplace in the dining room, which I think is such a romantic detail.

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House & Garden:  The kitchen in the magazine shows the room as it was painted when photographed.  Today, the room is a different color.  Here, the color was inspired by David Hicks and is “Wet Sand” from Farrow & Ball.  The Aga came with the house.  Ben bought the table on Ebay and he added the Welsh Dresser (not seen here.)  The fabric is Svenskt Tenn from Sweden.

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Above the Aga is a clothes drying rack.   This room doubles as the laundry room.  Here you can see the Welsh Dresser, bought on Ebay.

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This side of the kitchen is rarely shown because you can see the washing machine here.  To the left is the door to the entry hall. 


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Today:  After the House & Garden photoshoot, Ben repainted the kitchen this vivid, glossy yellow by Dulux.

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Today, when they have large parties, the table is extended to seat everyone in the kitchen.

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Today:   The table set for lunch.


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Today:  a close up view of the hanging shelf which was originally stained brown.   Ben added the crown to the top of the shelf and the bottom shelf was also added, after which it was then painted a glossy white.

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Before:  The kitchen started out as white.  When it was first rented, the linoleum floors were in very poor condition – so Ben installed this floor and then painted it white.

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Before:  the hanging shelf as it was before it was restored and painted white. 

The Study:

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Before:  The study has gone through many changes.  First it was well designed sitting room and office for Ben. Very well designed. 

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Ben added his drafting table.  The plaster casts are from Pentreath-Hall.  This room was once called “The Village Room” – it was added onto the house in 1860.  It was here that the parson met his parishioners and collected their tithes.   The door opens to the driveway and street and it was very convenient for the parishioners to leave their carriages on the drive and drop in to leave their tithe – all without having to enter the house proper. 


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Today:  The study is now  Charlie’s “Flower Room” where he runs his floral/antique business, “McCormick.”  This photo was taken on the day of their wedding when things were a bit more hectic than normal.

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Today:    Charlie’s Flower Room is further evolving with the addition of the bright yellow cupboard and the herbiers.   Here, he set up the room to host a lunch with the blue garden chairs.   But, this is really a working florist’s room.   See his web site for more information HERE.

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Today.   The Flower Room – looking the other direction which leads into the main  house.  I wonder if this actually connects on the second floor since it’s on the higher part of the hill?

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And notice against that wall – Charlie has installed plumbing – and a sink.   It’s a necessity for a florist.   Look back at what this room looked like when Ben first moved in as a single man.  Now, Charlie has added such life and presence to their home!  They now have a dog and two kittens and Charlie loves to cook.  You can really see how his presence has enlivened the atmosphere. 

Upstairs Landings and Guest Bedrooms/Bathrooms:

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House & Garden:  showed this view of the upstairs hall with its seagrass sections and blue painted walls.  Ben’s complete collection of World Of Interiors magazines lines the hall.


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And another view of the hall with the oval window and a collection of maps on the walls.  This window is original to the house and Ben replaced another window on the landing to match this one.


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Before:  When Ben first moved in, he laid down the Seagrass mats – which he now sells in his shop.  This is the oval window he added to match the other original one.


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Today:  the same view of the landing with the two guest rooms that are on either side of the oval window. 

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The very romantic view at dusk out the opened oval window is of the church’s steeple.   Perhaps Ben wanted to capture this exact view when he took out the rectangular window and replaced it with this much more beautiful one.

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Before:   This view into the bedroom, off the landing.

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House & Garden:  showed this picture of the same view into the guest bedroom with yellow floral curtains.  This chair’s mate is now in the kitchen.

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And in the guest room, yellow floral curtains:  Jean Monro “Bowness” fabric.

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The landing to the right leads a guest bedroom.

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The second guest room has an iron bed and fireplace.

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House & Garden:  This guest room has a four poster bed, which Pentreath inherited from his grandparents, and which has since been moved to London for Ben’s new guest room there. 


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Guest bathroom in beadboard. 

Master Bedroom:

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House & Garden shows both the master bathroom and the master bedroom.

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The master bedroom was painted in a deep green color:  #4-050 from Papers & Paints. At the foot of the bed is a velvet settee with one of his Welsh blankets that he sells. Pentreath also painted his London kitchen this color.  In the corner is a beautiful antique desk and chair. This is my theory too – each room should have one focal antique piece to build the decor around. 


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Across from the bed, the view overlooks the flowerbeds.

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Before:  A view of the room when it painted gray, before the much richer color it is now painted.   I really love the much darker color in this room.  I can’t say I love the yellow and blue downstairs, but this green is fabulous and so is the pink in the living room.

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The bathroom off the master bedroom.  I love that the bathrooms look like rooms themselves.  Only the English!

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The bathtub in the master bathroom.


The Attic: 
  
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House & Garden:   the attic bedroom with twin beds.

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Because the ceiling is so low and there was the protruding chimney, Ben installed beadboard to hide the chimney and make the room cozier.  The beds are hospital twins with white metal frames.


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Another view of the attic bedroom with the rocking horse.  Darling!

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Pentreath & Hall sells the Welsh blankets at the end of the beds.

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The original attic window looks out at the steeple.  The hardware is so charming with its curled handles. 

The Grounds:

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West Dorset – see the steeple from the church next to the Old Parsonage?   The hilly landscape is so beautiful in this part of England.

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The valley next to the Old Parsonage.

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Before:  In 2009 when Pentreath took his lease, this is how the Old Parsonage looked.  One of the first things he did outside was to replace the overhang at the garden door.  And the landscaping needed attention – the large bed to the right was all overgrown weeds.


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Before:  Once the new garden door porch was built, Ben started work on the flowerbeds.

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After:   Spring beds are filled with purple flowers. 


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Today:  When Charlie moved in  - he created new beds on the lawn.   Along the left side, you can see the new stone retaining wall that was installed.


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A view of the garden during winter.  At the left are the new stone stairs leading down to the lawn, with its new stone retaining wall.  And here, on the left side of the house, you can see the sidewalk before the front door, which you can’t see from this angle.  To the left is the Village Room/Flower Room which was added on to the house in 1860.

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Another winter view of the garden.  At the left past the fence is the driveway and the street.

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Before:   The back of the house with the two bay windows in the living and dining rooms.  Upstairs, you can see the original window in the landing – which was later replaced with an oval window.

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Today:  Here you can see the oval window Pentreath installed in the upstairs landing hall.   Also, you can see the stone retaining wall that was installed along the back of the house.


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Later:  another view of the beautiful new stone retaining wall.

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Before:  Pentreath decided to install a large vegetable/flower garden in the side yard.

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Before:  brick paths were laid out, along with a fence and garden gates to keep the critters out.


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Today:   the vegetable/flower garden has exploded.  Its bounty is beyond all expectations.  Fabulous!

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Today:  besides all the fruit, there is an abundance of flowers for cutting.

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And more.

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Even Pentreath’s classic car and the original garage at the Old Parsonage are charming!!! Notice he painted the wood a duck’s egg blue. I hope you have enjoyed this look at the House & Garden story on Ben Pentreath’s Old Parsonage.

Visit his web site & shop HERE.  

The magazine is on the stands now. 

Interested in visiting West Dorset in southern England and hiking in the hills?

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“Top Parts” BnB through AirBnb.  This BnB is actually in the same tiny town, Little Bredy, that the Old Parsonage is located.  So, if you like the terrain, this might be a place to start in your search.  It is located just a few miles from the sea.


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The BnB has been newly created out of their stable block.  HERE.

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And this Relais & Chateaux hotel: Summer Lodge Country House in nearby Evershot Dorset, HERE.


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Each room is decorated individually.

AND 



Mark Sikes is having a trunk show of his DARLING clothes HERE.  Hurry!!



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Christmas Sales in July!?!?!?   Yes!   HERE.

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AND – The Top 41 Favorite Items OKL Can’t Keep In Stock HERE

32 comments :

  1. I am laughing at that shot of Anmer Hall, with all the artisan vans parked around. I only have to deal with a handful; having so many must be nuts for the person in charge.
    I love the wallpaper in the entry of Old Parsonage and the way that carved chair works with it. And the use of maps. I adore looking at maps. They add color and you don't get tired of them.
    That piano also has me swooning.
    The yellow kitchen seems so happy.

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  2. I love the wallpaper in the entry.

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  3. I am captivated after reading its daily blogs and its stylish flamboyant website .There are many company related to house design but none could furnish like bathroom design ideas and kitchen design ideas. It's amazing in nature. my home looks like a fort.If you may have a plan for house renovation or making, you will have to log in its web portal.

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  4. Olá,
    amei ver estas lindas casas e as decorações. Esse é meu estilo. Moro no campo e a unica coisa que falta por aqui são casas antigas. Obrigada por compartilhar tantas inspirações.
    Tenha um ótimo dia.

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  5. I liked this post very much You quote someone saying that he is a "younger Robert Kime." Recently I stayed at Gunston Arms in Norfolk,England. It was decorated by Robert Kime using his own fabrics, the owner's fabulous art, but also furniture that looks like it came from auctions and estate sales. The place was extremely charming and comfortable. Some of these pictures feel very like it. Kime without the Prince of Wales' resources.

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  6. Joni,
    This is fabulous. Thank you for taking us on such a beautiful tour. And, might I add, that the owner of the property is so very lucky to have them as renters!!!! What an incredible upgrade to both the house itself and the gardens. Really a knock-out. Not the usual renter situation, that's for sure.

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  7. Thank you! Great design with use of muted color and elements, in a rental no less! Now that it has been almost 10 years since the white/gray trend began, this is a welcomed change.

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  8. The little black shop is my favorite picture!

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  9. Loved this post, Joni! He's one of my favorite designers working today, and I'm so excited for his new book. Hoping you will do a follow-up post on the London flat...

    Rebecca

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  10. Joni, I learn so much from you and your meticulously researched posts. Thank you! But I most point out that William and Catherine are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Their children are Prince George of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. William and Catherine are not and never will be the Prince and Princess of Cambridge. Catherine is technically Princess William.

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    Replies
    1. omg. i know!!! I forget that!!!!!!!!!!!! omg!! well, excuse this poor American who gets their titles bungled up. Princess William - like Princess Michael.

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  11. I've been following him for a few years and am just totally smitten. More than any other designer he captures my interests. I think if we lived in the same town we'd be friends (yes i'm completely delusional!). I look forward to his Blog posts!!!!

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    Replies
    1. sorry - i already claimed him!!!!!

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  13. Thank you for this wonderful post on Ben- I enjoyed it so much!I should just print it out and add it to my copy of Ben's book, which is the ONLY design book( besides Furlow Gatewoods"One Man's Folly', and Bunny William's House book) that is always out on my coffee table because I reference those three books so much.I have been following him for a few years and one of my great pleasures is reading his lyrical blog every Monday morning. Thank you again for this marvelous post,Joni

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  14. Hmmm .. the bones of the house and gardens are stunning but I found the proportions of the furniture and color choices to be a little off. And while I love eclectic furniture and accessories, Ben's choices just didn't resonate with me. English furniture is just so stiff and austere .. The only room I loved was the room with the piano. However, I certainly enjoyed reading through the blog and always learn something new from Joni.

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  15. Best. Post. Ever. I'm a Sucker for Anglophile interior design. The British just have an innate ability to create interiors which look collected and actually lived in. To me, with exceptions for just a few designers' work such as Bunny Williams and Charlotte Moss, American interiors look stark and cold by comparison. I agree with you that I would not lump Mr. Pentreath in with Nicky Haslam. Not that there's anything wrong with Hadlam's style - he is a master. But Ben's style is definitely English Eclectic. And I think Haslam is slightly more traditional. I hate to label people as talented as these.

    Except for a few disagreements with his wall color choices, I find his style utterly divine. I really do dislike the dining room blue. Too harsh on the eyes. To me, a less harsh blue like Farrow and Ball's Skylight would be so much prettier with the blue shade on the dining room light fixture. I do love his color combination of emerald green, grey an black and white in one of the dining room photos above (or maybe on his website). That is a masterful combination. Reminds me of an entryway done by Alessandra Branca a few years back in which she used grisaille scenic wallpaper and in the center of the entry's black and white tiled floor, heaped these gorgeous deep green Italian glass vases on a round table. She finished it off with some cherry red shades for the wall sconces. It was graphic and fresh and timeless all at once. So rare in American decorating, in my opinion.

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    Replies
    1. he just seems so charming and sweet. and i love that pink!!!!

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    2. but i agree about the blue. i wonder why he loves those bright colors so much? i love his bedroom - for men. it's fabulous.

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    3. Joni-Don't you think that he's a real 'Mensch'? So caring, kind and soulful!
      I love that pink room of his, and now I am on the hunt for a pink that would approximate 'Parsonage pink', so wish me luck!:-)
      Laurel Bern did a wonderful blog entry on Farrow & Ball paint approximations, using Benjamin Moore paints. According to Ben,his living room paint,'Parsonage Pink' is a cross between F&B's 'Setting Plaster' and a Paper & Paint 50's 'pink', ( color card on their site). 'Setting Plaster' is B.Moore's Georgetown pink bg, hc #56- wished I could get my hands on a Paper& paint color sample!

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    4. Agree. Love Ben, his garden, his London flat, the life I imagine he leads, his country home, his shop. All of it. I don't love every piece of furniture or every colour choice, but I love the collected feeling of "home" and comfort it conveys. A beautiful backdrop to a lovely life, not a showroom of pricey, cold or "look at me" pieces.

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    5. You said it best! His rooms are 'people friendly' give a feeling of 'home and comfort'- and that's what should be the paramount goal for every house. His homes are places that one just wants to linger in.:-)

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  16. Thanks again, Joni. Love Ben's blog- so beautifully written and so charming. On a different topic did you notice that there are two Joan Rivers auctions in the offing. Do I see another post coming?

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  17. i saw that!!!!!!! haha!!! i think people would kill me if i wrote about it again.

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  18. I loved the ticking curtains! And the baths with all the beadboeard... Any idea what the paint color in his shop (the early photo of the interior with the fireplace) is??

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  22. The house itself, the church, the garden! Fabulous. Gorgeous pictures. Decorating style not my cuppa, but love his sensitivity to the setting in the exterior and the garden is perfection! The church is so very precious and sweet ♡

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  24. There are only two blogs that I read without fail and exception - your's and Ben's - so it's so nice to see you write about Ben. Hello from little England! Robin

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