A Home with a History: how Luke Edward Hall and Duncan Campbell raised resplendence from the ashes in their Cotswolds cottage
Following a fire that led to the head-to-toe revamp of their Gloucestershire home, artists and designers Luke Edward Hall and Duncan Campbell open their door to give Inigo the first look at the county’s most inspired interior
- Sarah Frances Kelley
- Elliot Sheppard
- Harry Cave
Driving down a lane that looks as though it’s been designed for cattle rather than cars, the first thing we spot when approaching this house are the spires of jolly hollyhocks peeping over a Cotswolds dry-stone wall. It’s a sign of what’s to follow – a riot of colour and an infectious feeling of fun and frivolity. None of this is to say it’s surprising, however; all is as you’d expect if you’re an admirer of Luke Edward Hall and Duncan Campbell, their father-and-son whippets, Merlin and Dragon, and the glut of green-fingered triumphs from their Gloucestershire garden. And, after all, who isn’t?
With one foot in north London and the other itching to get out, in June 2019 Luke and Duncan found themselves clasping the keys to their new rental: a neighbour-free country pad. “We’d been in the city for 15 years and were ready for a change of pace,” explains Duncan, one half of award-winning interior-design studio Campbell-Rey and mastermind of decoration projects across the globe, from Ligurian villas and London townhouses to homes in the middle of New York City. “We love the Landmark Trust and longed for a folly or gatehouse, but then we came across this place. It was nothing more than a tiny, somewhat unloved farmhouse that had only cows for neighbours, but its situation was extraordinary – and we could see what it could become.”
Decoration ensued, lockdowns came and went. The pair enlisted Elizabeth Tyler to help create a glorious meadow, in which they got married last year. And then, in early 2023, tragedy struck when a fire broke out. On arriving home from travelling, Luke – artist, illustrator, interior designer of hotels such as Hôtel Les Deux Gares in Paris and creative director of his own fashion label, Chateau Orlando – discovered a small blaze had broken out downstairs. While the direct damage was lamentable, it was thankfully contained, though the smoke had seeped into every room.
Once it had all been cleared and the salvageable had been saved, these two incorrigible aesthetes knew there was only one thing for it – to keep their chins up and do what they do best: decorate. Here, the pair talk us through the motions of finding the beautiful in a bad situation.
Luke: “It was 11pm one night in January and I’d just got back from a work trip to Florence to find a small fire downstairs. While it thankfully hadn’t ripped through the house, the smoke did affect every inch – including our belongings. Five months later, at the end of May, we were back in. The only good that came out of it was the chance it afforded us to redecorate and to replace things that were in need, like the carpets upstairs.”
Duncan: “After the fire, we rethought many of the colours. The kitchen cabinetry that was once pale blue and then had been hi-vis yellow has changed to a more mellow golden tone – ‘Tan’ by Little Greene – for instance. The sitting room’s olive-green walls have become a restful dusty rose (‘Nicaragua’ by Edward Bulmer), and the formerly mustard dining room remains cosy, but is now painted in ‘Red Ochre’, also Edward Bulmer. That said, some of them stayed the same, including the upstairs bathroom, which is Farrow & Ball’s ‘Arsenic’, and the ‘Setting Plaster’ of the guest bedroom.”
Luke: “I love that bathroom. It’s difficult to choose a favourite space here, but that might be one of them. That and the open-plan kitchen and sitting room, which we really live in and is at its best when filled with friends. Though we also love it when it’s just the two of us and the dogs…
“I think the colours harmonise better now. The palette is perhaps more elegant than it was, but we still have the sense of contrast we love. Walking through the downstairs rooms, for example, you go from dusky pink to shocking magenta and on to dramatic red; it has a nice flow to it. And all the ceilings are painted pale blue. I’m not keen on white.
“As well as colour, we like paint effects, from trompe-l’oeil finishes to ragging. I would love to experiment more with them, but we always have to be mindful that this is a rental. Finding a balance between creating something special and not going too far is the trick. Maybe in our next place we will. I’d like to do a mural too.”
Duncan: “The house isn’t ours, so we have more or less been limited to wallpapering and painting – and of course filling the house with furniture and objects. Designing your own home is different from undertaking a commission, as there are fewer constraints; generally we allow ourselves to be drawn to things we like and then find a place for them.
“Because we were initially based in London, we didn’t necessarily design this house with the day-to-day in mind, which has helped it feel more fun. People who come to stay for the weekend often say it feels like Christmas all-year round, which is an idea we both love.”
Luke: “I’m a romantic and, when thinking about this place, I very much had a vision of the atmosphere I wanted to create, rather than a specific interior I wanted to emulate. I pictured dogs on the sofa, happy chaos, books to be read in every corner and a dash of theatre.
“I’d describe our style as an amalgamation of the classical, baroque and contemporary. I love the mix. It’s camp and silly but also comfortable; this house recharges us. We get so much from it.
“I find inspiration in many places, from the mythological and the fantastical to the many houses and gardens I like to visit. I love Charleston and the way the Bloomsbury Group broke down the barrier between fine art and design. I love Ancient Greece, I love magic, I love Cecil Beaton’s diaries. In fact, Cecil’s one of my absolute heroes; he wrote a fantastic book about Ashcombe, the house in Wiltshire he leased for 15 years, and how he brought it back to life, filling it with friends and art.
“We’ve now started putting together our own collection of works by those we admire, many of them queer artists from the past: original, beguiling characters, such as Stephen Tennant who lived at Wilsford Manor, also in Wiltshire. I get a lot, creatively, from stories of such extraordinary people fashioning these unusual havens.”
Duncan: “The cottage is now where we spend most of our time. Moving here marked a real change in our lives. I believe that a house gives you back what you put into it; we’ve given this one so much love and it’s repaid us tenfold.”
Luke: “It’s our own little magic kingdom and we’ll be reluctant to leave it behind one day. It really has made us very happy.”
Luke on Instagram
Duncan on Instagram
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