Instant calmer: Inside interiors stylist Anna Unwin’s renovated former spiritual retreat

When interiors stylist Anna Unwin renovated this former spiritual retreat, she wanted to create a space that was elegant and relaxing. The result? A beautifully pared-back family home.

Anna unwin
Monochrome paintings by Oliver Hilton, commissioned by Anna, make a striking focal point. Image: Michael Sinclair

The vibe in stylist Anna Unwin’s home is very much one of old meets new. The Georgian house, a former 22-bedroom spiritual retreat, bought in 2005 by Anna and her husband Willie, is in a Cambridgeshire village – the quiet antithesis of their former life in London’s bustling Primrose Hill. ‘We wanted our children to grow up in the country,’ says Anna, who has three young daughters and is founder of online antiques and textiles store AU Bespoke.

Anna unwin living room
Sofas from caravane.co.uk and an oversized rug from larusi.com frame the sitting room fireplace. The mirrored globe pendant light is by Tom Dixon. Image: Michael Sinclair
Anna unwin bathroom
A sleek marble-panelled bath from cphart.co.uk, with views across the garden, creates a sanctuary-like feel in Anna and Willie’s bathroom. The antique bust and mirror are both from Anna’s online store AU Bespoke. Image: Michael Sinclair

Renovation was carried out in two phases: over the first ten years, all 22 rundown and orange-tiled bedrooms were knocked through into a five-bedroom (all en-suite), elegant home – with a bespoke pale-pink kitchen. New wooden windows and antique French stone fireplaces were added, along with oak floors, which were reclaimed from MI5’s former offices on London’s Strand and sourced by Anna. The recently completed second phase involved the conversion of a chapel into a family gym, and function areas into two offices and a guest annexe. ‘The sheer scale of the property meant we had to take our time,’ says Anna.

Anna unwin dining room
The dining table was made using a vintage base and a super-sized bespoke marble top. The antique parquet floor creates a sense of flow between the main dining and living spaces. Image: Michael Sinclair

Throughout, the calming backdrop of whites and earthy neutrals is combined with touches of brass, stone, statement finds and seasonal greenery from Anna’s garden. This offsets her evolving collection of antiques: think mid-century modern lighting, covetable marble dining tables, 1970s travertine coffee tables and sheepskin-covered Danish chairs. All mixed with contemporary sofas, antique textiles and abstract monochrome artworks.

Anna unwin bedroom
In the master bedroom, a relaxed sofa is teamed perfectly with vintage linen textiles, a 1970s Italian marble coffee table and agate crystals, all from AU Bespoke. Image: Michael Sinclair

‘My style is naturally pared back,’ says Anna. ‘I have always been drawn to older pieces, repurposed for a modern way of living.’

To shop Anna’s antiques and textiles, visit aubespoke.com

Words: Ali Heath

Shop the look

Channel Anna’s serene scheme with pared-back pieces in a neutral palette

Chair, £159.99, zarahome.com

Basket, £25, johnlewis.com

Pendant light, £142, pooky.com

Rug, £295, sohohome.com

Prints, £350 for two, oka.com

Cushion cover, £19.99, hm.com

Mirror, £119.95, victorianplumbing.co.uk

Vase, £38, trouva.com

Vase, £59, amara.com

Bowl, £120, selfridges.com

Coffee table, £787, amara.com

Sofa, £4,795, makerandson.com

Plant (without pot), £240, patchplants.com