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