A converted 18th-century stable block in Dorset
Henriette von Stockhausen fell in love with antiques as a child. Today, her Dorset home is a celebration of her favourite pieces. Photographs Christopher Drake
When Henriette von Stockhausen was 10 years old she had two hobbies: horse-riding and collecting glass. ‘It was a bit of a weird interest for a little girl,’ she laughs, ‘but I would always dedicate a shelf or corner in my bedroom to displaying my collections. I particularly loved 17th to 20th-century bohemian glass in vibrant colours.’
Henriette credits this early appreciation of antiques to growing up in homes filled with beautiful pieces. Her mother loved antiques, as did her grandmother, whose home in Vienna made a lasting impression. ‘I remember each piece she had and where it sat in her home,’ says Henriette. ‘I can picture it exactly.’
Henriette’s passion led her to study fine art and sculpture before completing a masters in 17th to 20th-century interiors at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, where she worked after graduating. Then, after working for a family friend developing country houses, she made the move into interior design.
Her collections are now liberated from the corner of a bedroom. In fact, her Dorset home – where she lives with husband Mark and their three children, Ben (13), Henry (seven) and Lilly (six) – provides ample space for her to celebrate her favourite items. It’s far from what you may imagine when you think of a collector’s home, though.
The kitchen, which is as contemporary as they come – all high-gloss units and concrete surfaces – proudly displays her collection of antique and vintage woven baskets. The dining room, in contrast, has a much more delicate feel, with an Austrian 18th-century chandelier and French mirror. Yet its most striking aspect is the display of Henriette’s cabbage plates – collected over a decade and arranged to dramatic effect on the wall.
Art plays a part in each room, too, with modern works given as much wall space as fine, antique numbers. While the collections are varied, what’s important to Henriette is the aesthetic – what’s pleasing to the eye and what works well in the surroundings. This open-minded approach serves her decorating ethos well. Her look, she says, is ‘classic but not traditional, with a sense of humour and plenty of colour.’ Quirkiness and originality are key.
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Henriette’s thought process after viewing the house three years ago speaks volumes of her poise when it comes to turning around interiors. ‘The house was filled with rats, split into two separate flats containing poky rooms, and had been empty for over two years. It was horrific. I absolutely loved it,’ she says. ‘This was a place that I could start from scratch with, which made me really excited.’
Having previously lived in an idyllic – but dark – thatched cottage, the space and light that this rambling home offered were huge draws. What also charmed the horse-lover in Henriette was that it was originally a stable block and carriage block belonging to ‘the big house’: Henriette says that she ‘loves the thought of horses having lived here.’
The couple picked up the keys to their new home on 1st January 2013 and Henriette’s years of design experience was quick to come into play. Within 12 weeks the house was transformed. The layout was largely reconfigured and each room was given a head-to-toe refresh in Henriette’s signature style of playful colours, with an even mix of old and new furnishings adding depth. ‘I had a very clear idea of what I wanted but a tiny budget,’ she says. ‘The kitchen had to be simple and cheap, and the decorative pieces had to speak out. I wanted to combine antiques and modern pieces throughout.’
The modern element was largely covered by the textiles, which provided the starting point for each room. ‘I bought all of the fabrics for the windows in one job lot from a Designers Guild and Ralph Lauren trade sale. The quantities of each fabric dictated which room they would be placed in – if it fit the window, that’s where it would go and everything else had to work around them.’
As for the antiques, these are a mix of pieces found at the local auctioneer, items brought with Henriette from previous homes or – as is the case with her favourite pieces – belongings that were once owned by her mother or grandmother. ‘Anything that has a personal connection and brings back childhood memories is even better. They just mean that little bit more,’ she says.
The generous rooms have allowed Henriette to be adventurous and play with heavily patterned wallpapers, opulent antique mirrors and oversized light fittings. ‘Decorating was great fun,’ she says, ‘and I’m not finished yet. I’m slowly adding to the interior. I recently commissioned my friend Adrian Everitt, a decorative painter, to antique the wallpaper in the drawing room, and I have plans to complete the circus-inspired upstairs hallway with a hand-painted tent-effect ceiling. Letting a home evolve gradually keeps it looking natural. If you throw everything at it in one go it can look manufactured.’
Another plan that she’s hatching is the addition of an apothecary-style cabinet in the kitchen. This will showcase her vast collection of glass, including the colourful bohemian examples sought out all those years ago. You can imagine that the 10-year-old Henriette would be very pleased indeed.
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