Set among the tall pines of Sherwood Forest, the 17th century Cockliffe Country House was once a hunting lodge for distinguished guests. The Provençal-style building, now a boutique hotel, recently underwent a refurbishment to transform the bedrooms, restaurant and wedding facilities. Blending period features with a timeless colour palette, design director Jamie Hempsall, from Nottinghamshire-based Jamie Hempsall Interior Design Ltd, explains how the stunning interior took shape.
It’s always exciting when we’re asked to re-imagine the interiors of a building like the Grade II-listed Cockliffe Country House. Having completed projects for the National Trust, as well as numerous residential period properties, we are no strangers to heritage design. It is undoubtedly a challenge – you want to preserve original features and stay true to its history, yet create a contemporary and versatile space geared up for the rigours of commercial use.
Independent hotel group Heritage Estates had bought Cockliffe Country House back in 2014 and was striking in its simplicity and serenity. An elegant building made from Ancaster stone, it resembled a home more than a hotel though it was certainly ready for a little love and attention.
This is when Jon-Paul and Charlotte Davies, directors of Heritage Estates, approached us to help bring their vision for Cockliffe to life. As a designer, I’m very hand-on and, as we began to share ideas, I found an immediate connection with Jon-Paul and Charlotte. This is important, since a renovation project like this requires a great deal of trust.
The building we see today is largely Georgian, however parts of Cockliffe Country House date back to the late 1600s. While it has been added to many times over the centuries, it has stood steadfast as the world around it changed. Transformed from a hunting lodge, to a family home and finally a hotel, it has moved with the times while retaining an air of solidity and security.
Of course, we wanted to keep the period architectural features that have survived over the centuries. I never want to hide the ‘passing of time’ by over-renovating the interior and masking all those quirky imperfections because they are visual memories of the house.
I firmly believe that historic buildings should show the different periods it has seen, while bringing it up to date and keeping them alive and relevant. Look at the great stately homes and you’ll see an eclectic mix of styles, periods and alterations. You often hear people talk about interior design trends, but this doesn’t really interest me because fashions come and go. I just like to do what feels right for the building and the job it has to do today.
As a design consultancy, we’re known for our flair for colour. At Cockliffe Country House, I used a colour and textural palette that referenced global travel, particularly India and the Far East. These tones are vibrant and earthy, so will not date nor look harsh against the period features.
We picked bright limes and oranges from Cuba, dusty madder rose and saffron from India and strong lapiz lazuli (blue) and emerald that evokes the Ottoman Empire. The fabrics were a nod to the carpets from Afghanistan and the Far East, all woven and hand-dyed. Nothing here is obviously new, but instead slightly faded and worn in the most charming way.
I love mixing contemporary and historic styles and re-purposed some of the antique furniture, while incorporating newer pieces and contemporary lighting. Perspex lamps were teamed with buttoned Chesterfield sofas in bold colours, while vintage continental chandeliers and mirrors added a touch of glamour, especially alongside exotic-looking fabrics and furnishings.
London-based designer William Yeoward has always been a great source of inspiration for me and I think that comes through in this project. His use of colour, pattern and texture is sublime – it’s always unexpected and interesting, but it’s the kind of thing you can live with easily. It has a timeless quality and for me, that’s what good interior design is all about.
Today, Cockliffe Country House Hotel has many guises – it’s an elegant wedding venue, a weekend bolthole, a foodie destination and a modern conference facility. These distinct identities and uses are all, I hope, reflected in the interior design.
About Cockliffe Country House Hotel
Located in Burntstump Country Park, seven miles from Nottingham city centre, Cockliffe Country House Hotel has recently undergone a £750,000 refurbishment. The 11-bedroom hotel, owned by independent hotel group Heritage Estates, can seat up to 80 wedding guests and has a restaurant, which serves modern British and European cuisine.
For more details, visit www.cch-hotel.co.uk.