One thing that I will never understand is why someone would move into a great old house and discard the good stuff. By that I mean a fabulous wallpaper, a good old linoleum floor, even antique or vintage bath fixtures. Perhaps some people think that old things have no value, or maybe it's an ego thing- the homeowner wants everything to bear his or her stamp. It's wasteful and in some ways disrespectful to the history of the house.
That's why I'm always pleased to read about homeowners who have no intention of stripping the life out of their homes. In the October issue of Tatler, there's a great article on Cornbury, the Oxfordshire, England estate of the Cayzer family (Robin, 3rd Baron Rotherwick, and Tania, Lady Rotherwick). The house has only been in the family since 1967, though it dates back to the 15th c. Another claim to fame? It's the last house decorated by John Fowler. And guess what? They've kept Fowler's handiwork. Still installed are his magnificent curtains, bed hangings, even upholstered dog "pavilions". (Anyone who would be crazy enough to get rid of a John Fowler curtain deserves to be taken out behind the woodshed. Just my opinion.) But rather than seeming stuffy or old, the house's interiors seem fresh, comfortable, and welcoming.
Lady Rotherwick says of Fowler's work: "It's so amazing you literally can't change anything. The most I've been able to do is put a bunch of flowers in a vase and decorate my own study." Amen. Obviously, the Cayzers and their young family seem quite happy in their home that was decorated decades ago. And why wouldn't they? I just hope that others will follow suit.
The Drawing Room
The Yellow Room's bathroom
The famous dog pavilion. Also, don't you love the armchair's fabric?
Harriette Cayzer's bedroom. She's 23, and you can tell that she appreciates her Fowler room.
Image at top: The family in the master bedroom. All images from Tatler, Oct 2009, James Merrell photographer.