Though the UK is an island, we often don’t typically associate the country with warm, sandy coastlines. However, on the westernmost point of southern England is a small peninsula famed for its world-renowned beaches. Cornwall is a popular holiday destination in the region and offers a sub-tropical oasis to the year-round residents of the English countryside.
While Somerset-based interior photographer Anya Rice recently moved out of the county herself, she spent eight years in the region and befriended many makers and artisans in the area while working on her book Make Cornwall. One such friend was interior designer Robert Carslaw, who had Anya photograph his unique 17th century home for a feature in House & Garden magazine.
The location was deep in the Cornish countryside. It’s an unusual part of the UK, as the climate is considerably milder than the rest of the country, and subtropical plants grow in abundance.
Robert’s house, Estray Park, sits atop a hill with a picturesque view of the sea below. The property’s 17 acres are also home to an eye-catching array of flora. Anya’s familiarity with the region and its landscapes helped her figure out the best time of year to feature the annual blooms that color Robert’s lush garden.
The brightest flowers were at their peak for a short time during the spring, and we were terrified rain would destroy them before the garden could be photographed. Luckily, the weather that time of year was very sunny.
The area’s radiant coastal light was an important factor in highlighting the exterior and interior beauty of Robert’s cottage. To continually feature the rays throughout the house, Anya and Robert left doors and windows wide open to cast even more light into the already luminous space.
Robert was keen that the light in the spaces looked as natural as possible, with shadow as important a detail as the light itself.
As an interior designer, Robert’s eye for design allowed him to stage his home for the best shots. Anya collaborated with him in each room to arrange key elements, and the two creatives took their time to consider the best angles for capturing all details of the space.
While the cottage has been continually remodeled over the past 200 years, Robert’s additions contribute features that speak to its history. He and his partner removed false ceilings and added oak beams that add a classic English style. They also designed a chimney breast and mantelpiece to provide a focal point at the end of their elegant dining table.
This property was a dream to shoot. It’s one of the most beautiful houses I have ever spent time in.
The decor in the home is eclectic and many pieces date from the 18th-20th century. Even though the curtains, rugs, and art differ in their origins and eras, layered together they offer a medley of texture, color, and pattern that speaks to Robert’s creative flair. Anya’s images offer viewers a look at how different influences can work together and showcase the various styles in each room in a cohesive way.
It was fascinating to see Robert’s influence on his own living space. His eye is impeccable, with every object carefully considered as part of the whole.
Robert and his partner have decided it’s time to vacate their treasured home, and they hope that its future owners will similarly act as custodians of this historic cottage. Anya’s series helps memorialize the home’s unique style and tells the story of the years Robert spent crafting this beautiful space.
The garden in Spring was heavenly, and lifted my spirits no end!