Yesterday, reading the March issue of Town & Country Magazine, my faith in shelter magazines was restored. This was a welcome realization after I about gouged my eyes out after reading the latest Architectural Digest with the feature story of the Kardashians. More on that later but let’s get back to Town & Country. One of the articles this month, titled Home of the Brave, in T&C is about a woman named Harriet Anstruther and her English farmhouse which dates back five centuries. Something about this woman and this house completely resonated with me.
Harriet Anstruther was given the house when she was born by her baronet father, Sir Ian, which sits on 100 acres of farmland, garden and woods in the English countryside. Somehow this has a tad more class than procuring a house from the monstrous proceeds of one’s reality show based out of Calabasas, California off the 101 freeway… But more on that later. Anstuther was a single mother raising a young daughter while restoring the Tudor style home adding French drains, repairing oak beams and opening gaps above the interior doors to distribute heat from three fireplaces. She says, “You want the draft. If you get cold, put on a jumper.” My kind of woman. Call me crazy but the words “central heating” are fightin’ words.
The article explains that the house is “filled with furniture from flea markets, junk shops, and antique stores, along with modern pieces, family heirlooms, and unexpected artworks including prints that she simply tacked to one wall of the sitting room.” Now, this is how you decorate a home… Not by tenting your living room like a marshmallow version of La Cage aux Folles… But more of that later.
I think it far more impressive to have a clawfoot bathtub with taps that “can be turned on and off with your toes-crucial when you’re lying in the bath with a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other” rather than have a color-coordinated closet the size of an airport hangar… But more on that later.
Anstruther inherited her fervor from her charismatic parents. Her mother still practices architecture at the age of 85. She describes her mother as the “most contrarian woman you’ve ever met, as well as clever, driven and independent.” Her father, a dashing man who wrote historical biographies, was the private secretary to the British ambassador and briefly dated Jacqueline Bouvier. Anstruther recounts her father as having a “dry, wicked sense of humor.” Her parents shared a love of opera, literature and art while living apart stretches of time between St. Tropez, West Sussex and London which their daughter credits to preserving their marriage. Somehow this just seems much more romantic than most relationships I know and just for the record I would much prefer to have my mother’s job title as “architect” rather than “momager.” But more on that later.
Anstruther herself, described as “brainy, opinionated and full of enthusiasm” studied fine art and interior design, opening her firm, HAS, five years ago focusing on residential projects and luxury developments. In 2002, Anstruther married portrait and interiors photographer Henry Bourne who shares her “bucolic life of gardening, cooking, reading and going for long walks with their two dogs” at the farmhouse on the weekends. Restoring this old home, Anstruther credits to “putting her back together again.” There are always things to do together with her husband she says, like “pruning the cherry trees or tending a meadow behind the house that bears such delights as wild miniature orchids.” Correct me if I am wrong but this relationship sounds a bit more interesting than marrying an NBA player with a penchant for prostitutes and crack cocaine...But more on that later.
Definitely pick up a copy of the new Town & Country to read the whole charming article. The next blog will not be as nice, sorry. I heard from our beloved Stephen yesterday who has gone underground due to his “winter depression.” I explained to him that I have a similar current mood except mine can be more accurately described as “winter rage.” I have kept my mouth shut about the demise of Architectural Digest this far but someone has got to say something… And I will… Stay tuned for that on Thursday.