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A Converted Monastery with a Cottage: At Home with UK Antiques Dealer Alex MacArthur

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A Converted Monastery with a Cottage: At Home with UK Antiques Dealer Alex MacArthur

March 18, 2018

We just visited antiques dealer and interior designer Alex MacArthur in the town of Rye, England, where she’s transformed a derelict Augustinian monastery into her showroom (see Welcome to My Monastery). Today we’re touring the adjoining brick cottage where she and her beloved three dogs live. Added onto the west wing of the monastery in the Georgian era, the house is as cozy as the chapel is expansive. Of her gargantuan restoration project, MacArthur says, having a home attached to her business, plus a walled garden for her pets, “ticked all the boxes, so I had to take a leap of faith.”

 built in the early \19th century, the cottage had been unused since the \ 12
Above: Built in the early 19th century, the cottage had been unused since the 1950s. While MacArthur chased out the roosting pigeons and upgraded the interior, she and all three dogs camped out in an Airstream trailer parked in the yard.
mimi, macarthur&#8\2\17;s french bulldog, guards the cottage entrance. ther 13
Above: Mimi, MacArthur’s French bulldog, guards the cottage entrance. There are four tiny rooms total: the kitchen right off the front door, an adjoining living area, and a bedroom and bath upstairs.

the rooms in the cottage are all newly finished in designer abigail ahern& 14
Above: The rooms in the cottage are all newly finished in designer Abigail Ahern‘s moody paint colors (Mercer Green is shown here): “For years, I had been a slave to Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe gray,” says MacArthur. “Here, I wanted to use deep, opulent pigments that absorb the light and create a grown-up atmosphere.
“The industrial steel kitchen table has a brass top. It’s surrounded by antique bentwood chairs.

the brick fireplace is two sided and also heats the living room. 15
Above: The brick fireplace is two-sided and also heats the living room.
next to the hearth, macarthur slotted in a brass sink handmade in florence, wit 16
Above: Next to the hearth, MacArthur slotted in a brass sink handmade in Florence, with a concrete counter and tubular brass shelving built to her own design.

For a similar to mixer faucet, see Aston Matthews’  Tradition Kitchen Sink Mixer.

looped over the slatted shelves, s hooks provide hanging storage. macarthur fin 17
Above: Looped over the slatted shelves, S hooks provide hanging storage. MacArthur finessed her lack of counter space with a removable sink insert that serves as a drying rack.

each room is blanketed—walls, ceilings, and moldings—in a single  18
Above: Each room is blanketed—walls, ceilings, and moldings—in a single color. The sitting area known as The Snug is Wooster Olive, a paint color Abigail Ahern describes as “soothing, elegant, and transformative: It will automatically turn an ordinary room into an extraordinary room.”
MacArthur’s living quarters serve as an extension of her by-appointment showroom, and “just about everything” is for sale.

thanks to the pigeon infestation, macarthur was allowed to remove the upstairs  19
Above: Thanks to the pigeon infestation, MacArthur was allowed to remove the upstairs ceilings, lending the rooms a lofty feeling. The bedroom is painted a nuanced dark plum called Bleecker.  The floors throughout are Madison Grey.
occupying what had been a second bedroom, the bath looks as if it&#8\2\17;s 20
Above: Occupying what had been a second bedroom, the bath looks as if it’s a historic restoration but is entirely new (there was only an outhouse). The scalloped marble sink is 19th-century Italian.
the fittings are all antique and include a narrow copper bathtub with a brass s 21
Above: The fittings are all antique and include a narrow copper bathtub with a brass standing faucet, a folding ladder, and a steel medical cabinet. The walls are Crosby brown.
there&#8\2\17;s plenty of room to roam, including a courtyard garden. 22
Above: There’s plenty of room to roam, including a courtyard garden.

See more in Welcome to My Monastery.

The cottage tours continue. Here are three more of our favorites:

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