2:45pm Wednesday 20th January 2010
I was originally just going to give it a lick of paint,” laughed Paul Hageman, thinking back three years when he began restoring Hope House, his ancestral home in Woodstock.
“The house was built around 1708, at the same time as Blenheim Palace,” said Paul, who remembers running through the corridors as a child, when his grandparents John Marston Money and Doreen Money lived there.
“My mother Julia Money had rented out the rooms in the late 1990s, but the house had fallen into disrepair. It was in a terrible state in places, so my brothers and I decided to restore it.
“I have been in the hospitality industry all my life, starting my career when I was 14, working in the kitchens of The Bear Hotel, Woodstock, and latterly as a general manager for the luxury Oberoi group in the Far East, so I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to run Hope House,” said Paul.
Two years into the restoration, things really started coming together after Paul met Wendy Sinclair, of Penny & Sinclair estate agents, Oxford, and she suggested he should speak to interior designer Jill Treloggen.
Jill took up the story: “When I first met Paul, he wanted to get the project finished and furnish it quite neutrally. But I was blown away by the architecture and the room proportions and I could see the huge potential.
“The building was still a partial building site at that stage, with some parts almost derelict, although some of the rooms had already been completed and painted white.
“That first meeting was not unlike a sketch from Fawlty Towers, with Paul treading on a nail, and hopping on one foot over the floorboards — he is very tall, and it was very surreal.
“For the first six months of the project we advised Paul on renovations — everything was planned in minute detail from the beginning.
“How we would organise the three, large two-bedroom suites, each able to accommodate four guests, who those guests would ultimately be, where all the electric sockets would go, etc,” Jill recalled.
“The rooms in Hope House are beautifully proportioned and I had a definite idea of what I wanted to achieve, so we produced concept boards to show Paul what I had in mind.
“Some things Paul embraced readily, others we discussed at length, but by and large we agreed on most things”.
“The design brief for Hope House was to create boutique-style accommodation in what is still a very a traditional Cotswold town. Paul was clear that he wanted Hope House to have a real ‘wow’ factor, making it stand apart from the competition,” said Jill.
“However, the budget was not unlimited, so we had to make clever use of fabrics, wall coverings and furnishings to create an opulent look.
Paul added: “I didn’t want it to look at all like a hotel — I wanted people to feel that they were staying in my ancestral home. I wanted it to have its own identity.”
Jill said: “First we tackled the set of rooms on the first floor to create the Churchill Suite. The rooms on this floor have four-metre high ceilings and glorious bay windows — the light just floods in. The original oak panelled walls have been meticulously restored to their former glory.
“The stunning proportions of these rooms enabled us to create a bold, monochromatic colour scheme — blacks and creams, velvets, opulent flocked wallpapers with French-style furnishings, and crystal lighting, giving the suite a real feeling of glamour.”
Meanwhile, they had to consider the potential clientele — guests staying for the weekend, maybe visiting Blenheim Palace and the surrounding area, or coming for the 2010 Woodstock@900 celebrations; honeymooners, the business traveller.
Paul said: “I knew I wanted contemporary boutique B&B accommodation with a real wow factor, so we have used the finest materials throughout — Beltrami Italian linen, Mulberry Tree silk hand-made duvets and pillows, underfloor heated Italian marble floored bathrooms, Bvlgari toiletries and state-of-the-art in-room entertainment.”
There are wall-mounted iPod docks, wireless Internet access and remote control lighting. The suites each have a desk and a fully-stocked bar.
“Wherever possible, I have sourced locally. For example, I have put Aston Pottery in the rooms; wines from Blenheim, together with crystal flutes, sit in the Smeg fridges in each suite,” added Paul.
Jill said: “The suite on the top floor was next.
It is very cosy, with lower ceilings and smaller windows. We have used a lighter colour scheme here: greens, golds and creams complement the smaller proportions of the rooms perfectly. But the overall theme is still of grandeur and opulence.
“Much of the furniture has been custom-made. For example, in the Vanbrugh restaurant on the ground floor, I commissioned modern cubes and ottomans giving the room an up-to-the-minute contemporary look, which contrasts beautifully with the original large antique stone fireplace.
“The colour scheme majors on warm red tones with accents of other jewel-like colours which feature in the buttoning detail and the soft furnishings. I’ve set off the original features in the restaurant with a modern twist, including wallpaper which has a pearlescent sheen to it — this room looks fabulous at night”.
There are lots of personal and historic references to Paul’s family throughout the house, for example, engraved into the bay window in the Vanbrugh restaurant is a drawing of Doreen Dyce, Paul’s maternal grandmother, at the time of her wedding in 1923.
Jill added: “Paul and I enjoyed a good working relationship — we largely agreed on most things, except four-poster beds.
“Paul was keen on them, but both myself and Paul’s wife thought they weren’t the right ‘look’ for Hope House. We have agreed, however, that we will put a four-poster bed in the third suite, and it will look just perfect.”
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