Charlotte's Folly in Shropshire

If you’re in the market for an idyllic countryside staycation, they don’t come much more picturesque than this. We take a look inside the charming pink cottage, Charlotte’s Folly, nestled in the 12,000-acre private historic Bradford Estates in the Shropshire countryside, from a fire-list sitting room filled with curiosities and expertly picked antiques to the sweetest twin room curled up in the property’s eaves. You’re going to want to book a stay immediately, or, at the very least, come away with some serious interiors inspiration.

The Bradford Estates have been run by the same family for over 900 years so you can expect their attention to detail is second to none. Now owned and run by he current earl’s heir and his wife, Viscount & Viscountess Newport, their latest offering is Charlotte’s Folly, an endearing pink lodge lined with lime trees and filled with beautiful creeping ivy wallpaper, curious antiques and cosy-cum-chic soft furnishings. It’s as close as you’re going to get to a real-life fairytale in the rolling hills of the English countryside. So we sat down with the talented Emma Ainscough, the interior designer behind the renovation, to take a look inside. Here, she takes us on a home tour of the property…

To book a stay visit uniquehomestays.com

The dining room at Charlotte's Folly

The Dining Room

“I decided early on that I wanted this room to be striped, and we settled on Hamilton Weston’s Brown Paper Stripe which provided a really warm and wonderful backdrop for everything else going on in the space. This set the tone for the colour scheme and I then played on tones and textures in this space rather than introducing more colours into the palette.”

The Kitchen

The Kitchen at Charlotte's Folly

I reconfigured the layout of the kitchen to make it work better with the new flow of space. We made a feature out of the small sink area with the wall mounted taps fixed to the side wall rather than the back wall. I love the checkerboard tiled wall that anchors the kitchen orientation and really makes an impact in the space.”

The Sitting Room

The Sitting Room at Charlotte's Folly

“With so much colour and pattern going on in the ground floor’s adjoining spaces, I decided to keep the sitting room relatively calm. Instead, we played with textures rather than introducing too much colour here. I really love the faux cheetah fur fireplace fenders around the bespoke fireplace mantel which provide extra seating in the room and somewhere really cosy to perch with a glass of red wine in the winter.”

The Master Bedroom at Charlotte's Folly

The Master Bedroom

This is the most pared back of all bedrooms – I wanted to set the scene of pattern whilst keeping the space feeling beautiful and sophisticated. We reinstated a log burner in this bedroom for the ultimate cosy experience, and I used a beautiful Pierre Frey fabric on the headboard which has a beautiful traditional feel to it.”

A log burner in the master bedroom makes for the ultimate cosy experience.

The en-suite off the master bedroom

The Blue Bedroom

I love this bed nook we created in this space to make the space feel really cosy. I used a beautiful wallpaper by Howe within the bed nook and added a bespoke tented ceiling above for the bed which together create a really magical feel.

We also created the built-in shelving nook in a bit of dead space due to a chimney breast, which adds character to the space as well as a functional area for things like books and a table lamp by the bed.”

Beautiful wallpaper by Howe within the bed nook gives the bed a magical tented feel.

The Blue Bedroom at Charlotte's Folly

The Green Bedroom

“And finally, this is probably my favourite room in the house. When I first saw this space it was incredibly dark – it has low ceiling and is in the eaves, leaving little option but to have a pair of single beds either side of the window.”

The Green Bedroom at Charlotte's Folly

“I wanted to embrace the low ceilings and brighten up the space by using a wallpaper all over the walls and ceilings – this wallpaper by Living Quarters was the perfect whimsical solution here, which set the scene for the colour palette, and the antique single beds I sourced have a really unique feel to them with plenty of character.”

Emma Ainscough, the interior designer behind Charlotte’s Folly, shares the process behind the project…

What was your inspiration for this project? 

Colour plays a huge role in my work and is often a starting point for a room or scheme. I took a lot of colour inspiration from the surrounding grounds and beautiful rural landscapes of the Bradford Estates. 

My site visits spanned from the depths of winter to the summer heatwaves (it was 40 degrees plus during furniture install) so I was lucky enough to witness the Estate in all seasons. The various vibrant greens, moody blues, and rich brown tones were pulled from these ever changing landscapes. 

The cottage feels particularly romantic. How did you create that feeling and aesthetic? 

Because the house was designed to be a holiday property, we wanted each room to feel really special in itself, and have its own USP. There are lots of different nooks and areas which allow for a moment to pause and take in the interiors, be it the dried flower installation in the dining room, the unusual fireplace fenders around the open fire in the sitting room, or the whimsical bedroom wallpaper spanning over the eaves and ceiling. All these areas feel quite magical and make you really want to soak up that feeling. 

Where do you start with designing the interiors of a period property? 

I have a real fascination with historic properties and the beautifully intricate details they are often home to, so if the property is lucky enough to have these features then I love to play on this. I like to push colour palettes to be something of a slight surprise – I love the use of colour against more traditional features.

Where is best for sourcing antiques and what are your top tips? 

There are so many websites and resources online for wonderful antique pieces, ranging in level from fine antiques to vintage one-offs. 

First Dibs and Kairos Collective are my go-to’s for beautiful pieces worldwide, and Vinterior always has a great range of price levels and styles. It’s always fun to hunt around in person as well – you can pick up some great pieces at the various antiques fairs – I’m a regular at Ardingly & Sunbury Antiques and always find something I’m not even looking for that I can’t help but bring home. 

The cottage’s look plays best into period properties, but do you have any advice for recreating a similar feel in a smaller or more modern home? 

If the bones of a space are more modern and minimal, then what you fill it with will naturally feel more clean. My advice would be to still use antiques and one-off pieces if you love that look, but perhaps go for something with more angular proportions to fit the modern aesthetic..

Some people think new builds can feel a little lacking in soul, so the more storytelling you can achieve through furniture curation the better.  

What are your go-to brands for linens and soft furnishings? 

Sophie Conran is a current favourite for bed linens. Glassette for soft furnishings and finding interesting and small businesses doing exciting things.

What about decorative pieces? 

Liberty has some great decorative pieces at the moment – I’m a big fan of these Sophia Enjoy Thinking sculptural pieces. I also find antiques markets are a great source for interesting decorative pieces.  

Where is best for sofas? 

This depends hugely on budget, but my go-tos from each end of the spectrum are Arlo & Jacob, Lorfords Bespoke and Rose Uniacke. 

What’s your favourite room or piece in the house? 

I think my favourite room has to be the green bedroom up in the eaves of the house. I’ve wanted to use Living Quarters’ wallpaper for a long time and this felt like the perfect space to really embrace it all over the walls and ceiling due to the eaves. It feels really whimsical and special even as a twin bedroom. 

 Are there any design rules you live by?

No design rules as such, as I don’t believe there should be any strict rules to designing a home, but when scheming with materials and fabrics, I like to play with scale of patterns. 

Depending on the scale of the space, I would typically use one statement  or one larger scale pattern and pull out various different colours in smaller scale geometrics in addition to that. 

If in doubt, always throw in a stripe! There are very few rooms I design which don’t have a stripe somewhere, even if just a small ticking stripe – somehow, they always tie a scheme together. 

 Finally, any tips on sourcing art that doesn’t cost the earth? 

There are lots of art consultants doing great things and pushing emerging artists. One of my favourites is Cramer & Bell’s ‘Curate’ section of their website – they have a great eye and the site is constantly changing. 

Tarn London also source beautiful vintage pieces and always have a wonderful collection.

 What are the things people should save and spend on when it comes to redesigning their homes? 

I tend to believe that long lasting comfort is what really costs and what is important in a home – items such as sofas, dining chairs, mattresses etc are crucial to get right. Sofas particularly – quality is key and I would always spend that bit more for the right solution which is going to stand the test of time. 

I think with the majority of accessories, and artwork to an extent, you can be really clever if you are creative with your choices. I love framing items which you wouldn’t typically think to do so – a restaurant menu from a special evening, or a vintage piece of embroidery etc can look wonderful framed, won’t cost you the earth and carry such sentiment. 

SHOP THE LOOK

Bradford Estates Boutique Stays offers exclusive use nightly rates for Charlotte’s Folly from £350.

For more information and to book visit

www.uniquehomestays.com


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