I believe this to be the first Knock Knock where I haven't met the person in question. Lori Inges Hall's Instagram @bushycottagearchive had only a few images on it, but that handful of images made my heart sing. There is a lot to be said for the classically chic home; you see it more and more on Instagram, beige, brown, maybe even a burnt orange if you're lucky, they are gorgeous. But by god, its nice to see something that is filled with love. That is how best I would describe the home of Lori and her partner Anthony; thankfully you don't have to rely on that mediocre illustration, Lori has done a superb job in painting the picture of her Sussex home.
Before we settle into her excellent Knock Knock, I thought I would let you in on a little more about Lori. She works for a photography archive, and with her partner Anthony they run Inglis Hall Antiques. They travel across Europe in search of interesting objects. From 'Folk Art, modernist treasure, ancient books, objet trouvé, to fossils and Neolithic axe-heads'. If that wasn't enough in 2021, they are planning to launch a series of bespoke furniture pieces, designed and made by her partner Anthony. Another reason to get excited for the year ahead.
After many years in London and a few more spent feeling quite settled in a Sussex town, we decided to look for a place in the country. We found this cottage to rent nestled in the middle of the fields along a rambling farmer’s track on an old estate. Although only ten minutes from town, with the openness of the landscape and the wind rushing across the fields, it feels a lot more remote than it really is. The house itself is a hodgepodge of ages. The oldest rooms, dating from the 18th century, are supported by medieval beams carved with witch marks. The cottage had been empty for a while and amazingly we were allowed to put our own stamp on the interiors. What we found when we got to work matched the muddle of the building, strips of Victorian wallpaper, remnants of a groovy mid-century colour scheme, and someone once went mad for crittall windows - but only in one half of the house. It feels like we’re peeling back layers of possession and personality, and now we’re adding one of our own.
Professionally, I’ve spent a lot of the last decade at Charleston and Farleys, the former home of the photographer Lee Miller and the artist Roland Penrose, which has inevitably had an impact on my own home – although perhaps not in obvious ways. I’m never going to paint circles around the fireplaces and there’s certainly no Picassos hanging in my kitchen, but the way Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant explored colour has left its mark (my initial ideas for the sitting room were actually based on the painted pillars at Berwick Church), and the idea that art should be part of everyday life – so central to Farleys – definitely holds true for me. But the biggest influence on my tastes and love of the decorative arts has to be Peggy Angus, who lived just down the road at Furlongs.
The cottage is quite dark so in the end we painted a lot of the space white with splashes of colour, such as the inglenook in the sitting room, painted in Farrow & Ball India Yellow. The best thing we’ve brought to the house is the handprinted wallpaper in the hallway and behind the stove by the super-talented Nicholas Hughes. Whenever anyone arrives at the cottage they are immediately drawn to it.
We’re both magpies and luckily our tastes tend to complement each other. There’s a multitude of collections competing for space here – paintings, antiques, books, records, and vintage clothes spilling out of every wardrobe. I imagine if you’re a minimalist you’d find it quite stressful. At the moment we’re hanging our collection of works by David Haughton, a St Ives artist who’s been completely and undeservedly overlooked, which we discovered quite by chance at Gorringe’s Auction in Lewes. We seem to be drawn to ‘wounded birds’, which is how we came to own our Alvar Aalto trolly, found languishing in someone’s shed, as was my Edward Bawden painting before it found its way to eBay. The slightly tattered 19th-century French hand-painted wallpaper we found at Spitalfields and carried home on the bus to restore. They’ve all seen better days but I wouldn’t swap them for anything.
If I had to choose a favourite corner of the house it would have to be our bedroom, where I keep the bench Antony made me when we lived in London (a version of which is now for sale at Foster & Gane). All in all, I think we match this house perfectly – everything’s a bit of a muddle, nothing quite fits, and yet it feels perfectly right for us. I just hope we don’t run out of space.