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Mill Lodge: A Colorful Cottage Escape for a Young Family

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Mill Lodge: A Colorful Cottage Escape for a Young Family

Beth Evans June 28, 2024

When Shirley Au purchased a little brick cottage in Sonning, a quaint village in the English countryside, she was initially going to transform it into a residential-style showroom for Another Country, the furniture company for which she serves as a director. But even after she pivoted to turning the former mill into a weekend home for her young family, she still wanted to prominently exhibit the brand’s contemporary pieces alongside charming prints and a whimsical palette of greens, reds, and blues.

So Shirley tapped London-based interior designer Jill Macnair, who was inspired by Kettle’s Yard and Charleston, two art museums set in iconic houses. “I wanted to bring into play that sort of ethos, but I knew the clients wouldn’t want it to be quite as busy or eclectic as either of those projects,” Jill explains. “We wanted to hit a warm minimalism feel. There’s pattern and quite a lot of color, but there’s not lots of stuff. It is such a small space, so each item had to be quite particular.”

Let’s take a tour:

Photography by Beth Evans.

the dining room&#8\2\17;s green and ivory antoinette poisson wallpaper, whi 17
Above: The dining room’s green and ivory Antoinette Poisson wallpaper, which features a geometric pattern of circles, triangles, and olive branches, was the very first thing Jill chose for the cottage. “It’s just really beautiful and cool, and it’s got a touch of that English eccentricity even though it’s French,” she says. “That was one of the items that set the tone, and I began to build the palette up from that.”
jill crafted a roman shade featuring a playful georgie hopton dropped cherries  18
Above: Jill crafted a Roman shade featuring a playful Georgie Hopton Dropped Cherries fabric and designed a curvy banquette to accompany the custom Another Country dining table. (Note the table’s charred wood top and subtly rippled edge, which speaks to the wavy rattan pendant.)
another country founder paul de zwart helped jill and shirley create bespoke ve 19
Above: Another Country founder Paul de Zwart helped Jill and Shirley create bespoke versions of signature pieces like the Syd Chair, which typically comes with a natural ash wood frame and a leather slung seat. The team opted for a neon green painted frame and a rush seat instead. The painting is by Dominic J Mchenry.
shirley wanted to keep the existing cabinetry, so jill refreshed it with a coat 20
Above: Shirley wanted to keep the existing cabinetry, so Jill refreshed it with a coat of Bancha by Farrow & Ball. She then installed a new butcher-block countertop and terracotta Fired Earth floor tiles with tonal light red grout. “The decision to color-match was about reducing too many points of difference,” Jill says. On display in the kitchen: abstract art by Georgie Hopton (courtesy of the artist and Lyndsey Ingram).
on the walls, jill went with soft school house white by farrow & ball. a mo 21
Above: On the walls, Jill went with soft School House White by Farrow & Ball. A moulded paper-pulp lamp from Palefire sits on the counter.
the adjacent living room is anchored by a cornflower corduroy slow sofa, anothe 22
Above: The adjacent living room is anchored by a cornflower corduroy Slow Sofa, another Another Country design. “I loved the way the blue paired with the rusty tones of the armchairs, which reflected what was happening on the floor of the kitchen,” Jill says. “And I was able to bring the green in with this amazing Christopher Farr fabric on the curtain. So there’s always a little continuation of the palette that weaves throughout the house.”
a collage by georgie hopton (courtesy of the artist and lyndsey ingram) hangs a 23
Above: A collage by Georgie Hopton (courtesy of the artist and Lyndsey Ingram) hangs above the couch.
jill sourced the vintage armchairs—one of which she upholstered in linen 24
Above: Jill sourced the vintage armchairs—one of which she upholstered in linen, the other in velvet—from The Modern Warehouse. “I kept my eyes out for ages for really nice chairs,” she says. “I’m quite drawn to things that are not necessarily really, really fashionable, but they have to be really beautiful and really comfortable. And these are both of those things.”
the staircase is drenched in sunlight by little greene. 25
Above: The staircase is drenched in Sunlight by Little Greene.
in the primary bedroom, jill took an another country bed that&#8\2\17;s usu 27
Above: In the primary bedroom, Jill took an Another Country bed that’s usually made of wood and wrapped it in a faded pink recycled linen from Yarn Collective. “Shirley wanted a fully upholstered bed,” she says. “She’s often told me that she clunks her shins against the bottom of the bed, so she really doesn’t like a wood base.”
the pastel tartan beds in the kids&#8\2\17; room nod to jill&#8\2\17;s  28
Above: The pastel tartan beds in the kids’ room nod to Jill’s Scottish roots. The peg rail—like the walls—is painted in Light Blue by Farrow & Ball and creatively solves the lack of storage problem. “There was absolutely no way we could fit a wardrobe in this room, so I thought it would be quite cute to use peg rail so that they can hang baskets and bags or whatever they want to,” Jill says. (It’s a trick we love: See Remodeling 101: How Shaker Peg Rails Saved My Summer Sanity and Instant Order: 16 Simple, Smart Uses of Shaker Peg Rails from the Remodelista Archives.)
jill didn&#8\2\17;t have a big budget to work with for the bathroom, so she 29
Above: Jill didn’t have a big budget to work with for the bathroom, so she covered the floors in sage green rubber tiles from Polymax and the shower in matte Super White ceramic tiles from Winckelmans. The brushed stainless steel taps are from Lusso, her go-to for reasonably-priced fittings.

For more, head to Jill Macnair.

And for more color-blocked spaces, see:

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