How would you describe Lime Wood to those who have never heard of it or visited it?
Lime Wood takes the stuffiness out of typical Country House retreats, set amongst the stunning New Forest in Hampshire. It’s so relaxing and a place to kick back and enjoy the impeccable service in cool surroundings. It attracts the London set and really buzzes at the weekends.
What is your own personal experience of Lime Wood and what makes it so special?
I have a great relationship with Lime Wood having been involved in the design of the Hotel originally and then more recently giving some of the main rooms a subtle make over and adding three new Forest Lodges. Other than that, it is such an amazing place to visit – whether it is to devour delicious food by Angela, Luke and Iain, or have dip in the beautiful swimming pool – go for a long walk in the grounds and nourish yourself after in the Raw and Cured with whole menu being engineered by their ‘raw chefs’ towards raw, natural and healthy food. It’s the perfect place to escape for a couple of days.
You have a unique relationship with Lime Wood, what have you designed for them during your career so far?
I have a great relationship with Robin Hutson and his amazing team there. We have done several exciting projects from the incredible Lime Wood Forest Cottages (woodman’s cottages on the main ground of Lime Wood), refurbishment of the Raw and Cured, We have also worked in the main Hotel doing the Study Room and refurbished some of the bedrooms – and of course our latest with Angela Hartnett & Luke Holders’ Backstage which was a really cool and exciting project to work on! Angela & Luke are such fun to work with. This is all very recent, but I played a part in the original design 8 years ago which essentially started the amazing journey we are still on today.
Can you tell me a bit more about the projects you have designed at Lime Wood and do you have a favourite?
The two main recent projects we did from scratch are the Forest Cottages and the Backstage Hartnett Holder & Co. Kitchen for Angela and Luke. Both were unique and really fun projects to work on! In Forest Cottages, we drew inspiration from an old Woodmans Cottage and created these really unique lodges with reclaimed timber walls, ceilings and floors, chunky kitchen sinks, really original pieces of furniture, lighting and accessories with warm & beautiful fabrics. We used wall tapestries to create cosy atmosphere. With Angela and Luke, we had a real joy to working with them and we really honed into what is the country house kitchen vibe, the original and honest heart of the house – how to express their flair for food in the interiors really came through, their contemporary and fun way of cooking. It was a really rewarding project for us.
What was your initial brief for the new Hartnett Holder & Co cookery school?
It had to be British, it had to be unique, it had to have real sense of occasion. The atmosphere was reflected with a beautiful earthy colour palette – it really has soul without any pretentiousness. Like a real country house kitchen. We also had to fit eight cooking stations which would allow Angela, Luke and Iain to teach home cooks how to cook taking in to account all age ranges too.
How long did the project take?
It was quick and efficient, from preparing the design to mixing the ideas and then we had a hot oven for about 4 weeks before we revealed an amazing ‘Downstairs Kitchen’ fit for budding new cooks.
What inspired the design of its interiors?
The interiors were inspired by British heritage throughout. We wanted to celebrate the countryside and amazing setting that the Lime Wood is located in and we out to create an atmosphere of ‘downstairs’ or the ‘backstage’ as the heart of the country house. A large traditional refectory table takes centre stage to instil a real sense of occasion in making great feasts together as a group. We created over scale 100mm thick granite tops to give a sturdy appearance and blended this with solid oak wall planks which gave a look of quality and a new heritage.
How closely did you work with Angela Hartnett, Iain Longhorn and Luke Holder when you were designing? Did the food they are creating in the school have a great influence on the design of its interiors?
We worked very closely throughout – and the food, or rather the way Angela’s Luke’s and Iain’s philosophy had a major influence on the interiors. This is reflected in the design through the sense of Britishness and the fresh, innovative yet totally down to earth feel that we wanted to also capture through choice of materials and furniture.
Do you have a favourite dish from the cookery school that you would recommend that the cookery school makes?
You end up making the dish so it’s really dependant on how much you take in during the lessons. I hear the Butchery class is really great though and making pasta from scratch are real winners.
Where and how did you source the products, materials and craftsmen for the project?
We sourced furniture from local antique shops, these big, old beautiful refractory tables, chairs – furniture full of character – everything had to have substance and meaning behind, much like Angela’s, cooking. It has to come from the heart. We tried to use local materials and had really talented British craftsmen working with us to achieve the best result.
How important is it to you that you support British craftsmen in your interior design projects, particularly in such an English countryside setting such as Lime Wood?
I am a true advocate for British design, British craftsmen and women – we have some amazing talent here and I feel proud to be working alongside with such talented individuals.
Are there elements you incorporated or needed to consider in the cookery school designs that weren’t necessary before? (Such as wireless systems, heat-touch technology).
We included state of the art Panasonic extractor hoods, heat touch hobs and of course just designing everything in a sequence so one does not have to walk too far and everything is within reach.
If you could design another project for Lime Wood what would it be?
Something along a semi outdoor-indoor eating-drinking vibe just to capture the amazing scenery, nature and setting of this beautiful retreat.