Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.

New Features on Our Memberships and Subscriptions

You are reading

Updown Farmhouse: A Colorful Country Retreat in Kent

Search

Updown Farmhouse: A Colorful Country Retreat in Kent

Ben Eagle and Ed Schofield November 9, 2022

Less than six months ago, Updown Farmhouse opened just outside Deal in Kent. It began with a few quiet supper clubs hosted by some of the UK’s best chefs: Anna Tobias, Will Bowlby, Rowley Leigh, and Alex Jackson were each invited to cook one-off long-table suppers for a handful of lucky guests.

updown farmhouse: &#8\2\20;we definitely didn’t want it to be too tr 9
Above: Updown Farmhouse: “We definitely didn’t want it to be too traditional,” say the proprietors.

At the same time, young owners Oli Brown and Ruth Leigh were busy restoring the property, a 17th-century farmhouse with two converted cottages in the grounds. Some months later, they were able to open their kitchen on a more regular basis (though the restaurant is still, for now, under a temporary structure under a picturesque pergola). Soon after, they opened the main house to overnight guests. We couldn’t wait to take a look around:

“the old front of the house is at the rear of the property, hidden from  10
Above: “The old front of the house is at the rear of the property, hidden from the road, facing the garden,” explains Ruth. “As you sit in the garden restaurant, you face this incredibly pretty building surrounded by a quad of outbuildings.”

“Updown is really two different houses stuck together,” explains Ruth (who is the daughter of chef Rowley Leigh). The oldest part of the house was built in the 1690s and extended in the mid-Victorian era. It was a working farm until the 1980s. “We really fell in love the second we walked in,” she says. “It felt like we weren’t trying to impose a concept on to the site. Everything just naturally fit.”

one of the converted cottages in the grounds. 11
Above: One of the converted cottages in the grounds.

Inside, the interiors are an amalgam of architectural styles. Because of the way in which in the building has evolved over time, many of the rooms are generously proportioned and bright, which has encouraged Ruth and Oli to make brilliant, bold color choices.

in the long drawing room, the walls are pearl color by the little greene paint  12
Above: In the long drawing room, the walls are Pearl Color by The Little Greene Paint Company. “We tried so, so many colors in here,” Ruth recalls. “We even painted half of it a different color to start with before asking our poor decorators to redo it. But this is a beautiful color—it reads as a very pale blue, like the inside of an oyster shell.” 
the walls in this bedroom are painted verre de terre by farrow & ball. the  13
Above: The walls in this bedroom are painted Verre de Terre by Farrow & Ball. The headboards have been reupholstered in heavy linens sourced from Merchant and Mills in nearby Rye.
“like the orange library, this bedroom get s a really visceral reaction. 14
Above: “Like the orange library, this bedroom get s a really visceral reaction.” says Ruth. The walls are Euphorbia by Paint and Paper Library.
seasonal offerings from the outdoor kitchen, where the chefs cook everything to 15
Above: Seasonal offerings from the outdoor kitchen, where the chefs cook everything to order in a bakers oven built into the stable wall.

The food, which is presided over by Oli, is Italian leaning and hyper-seasonal. “That could mean Kentish strawberries at the beginning of summer, followed by Sicilian tomatoes,” explains Ruth. “I think that pick-and-mix approach extends to the interiors, too. We’ve combined new pieces with antiques from local auction houses and vintage shops such as Mileage and Will & Yates in Deal. On the walls is a combination of prints, paintings, and photography, some more traditional colors and some more modern. It’s a real mix of what works where.”

oli’s family helped curate the artwork on display. “oli’s  16
Above: Oli’s family helped curate the artwork on display. “Oli’s mum, Liz, is a brilliant designer, and we asked her and Oli’s brother, Jamie, to curate the artwork,” says Ruth. “There’s a real mix of pieces, with photography by Oli’s sister, artwork by Jamie, and works that Liz has been collecting over the years.” 

In the orange room hangs a series of Liz’s paintings. “These were made years ago and re-discovered recently when moving house,” explains Ruth.

the library walls and joinery are painted bespoke orange. “watching the  17
Above: The library walls and joinery are painted bespoke orange. “Watching the first coat go on was terrifying, to be honest,” Ruth recalls. “But it gets such an incredible reaction from guests. It really draws people in.”
work by studio lenca—an artist from el salvador, whose studio is now bas 18
Above: Work by Studio Lenca—an artist from El Salvador, whose studio is now based in Margate—hangs on the wall in the honesty bar. “You can see it the length of the house,” says Ruth. “It really sets a tone.” The night-sky walls are Dock Blue by The Little Greene Paint Company; the sofa is from Loaf.
the seven acre garden was planted in the \1980s with a combination of beech hed 19
Above: The seven-acre garden was planted in the 1980s with a combination of beech hedging, raised borders, woodland, lawns, and wild meadow areas.
the raised border in late spring. 20
Above: The raised border in late spring.
“it’s an amazing garden that has quite an effortless feel,” 21
Above: “It’s an amazing garden that has quite an effortless feel,” says Ruth. “The boundary is all mature woodland, so it feels totally enclosed, like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Beyond that it’s entirely farmland.”

For more color-filled UK interiors, see:

You need to login or register to view and manage your bookmarks.

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0