It would be easy to assume that Nicky Haslam, an interior designer with a global reputation and no stranger to private planes and palaces, might possess a home suited to the pages of celebrity magazines.
Nothing could be further from that stereotype.
Nestling discreetly in rolling countryside, the 16th century hunting lodge was once used by King Henry VII as a resting place from the chase.
Nicky first set eyes on the Hampshire property as he stood in a clearing by the nearby lake and fell in love with “the fairytale facade of this rose-pink, brick-gabled folly glinting in the evening sun. It seemed like a stage set”.
Nearly four decades on he’s transformed a formerly neglected warren of small, bare rooms into a country home which is unselfconsciously grand.
Silk curtains hanging from carved wood pelmets in thre hall are a nod to John Fowler, legendary British interior designer and co-founder of Colefax and Fowler, who was the lodge’s previous tenant.
Tables are piled with books; other surfaces and plinths sport busts and statues in white plaster or terracotta, and paintings and engravings from his friends, Graham Sutherland, David Hockney and Lucien Freud, are framed but often left to informally lean against walls.
Gothic furniture pieces mix comfortably with old items he’s revitalised with a coat of paint.
The sitting room, barely 12ft square, encapsulates what Haslam believes is the essence of country house style. “It must be informal, calm, colourful and comfortable,” he says.
Irregularly plastered walls are a pinky brown. He’s complemented that hue with table lamps with tan lampshades which give a golden light in the evening. An arrangement of cotton-covered sofas and chairs faces an open fire, and a low Victorian bench acts as a coffee table.
Entertaining takes place in the grey-green dining room with walls hand-painted in a chinoiserie-style design of delicate foliage, strange exotic fruit, black insects, birds and a straw bonnet with a red tassel.
A French rococo-style table, with a faux marble top, sourced at a house auction, stands centre stage, and dining chairs are upholstered in a bold Pierre Frey ‘Ming’ china bowls fabric found in Vienna.
Nicky Haslam’s Folly De Grandeur by Nicky Haslam, photographs by Simon Upton, is published by Jacqui Small, priced £40. Available to readers for £32 (incl. p&p) by calling 01903 828 503 or emailing email@example.com and quoting offer code JS182