There’s something extra-indulgent about staying at a hideaway that’s 15 minutes away from your own home. But I’m more than happy to treat myself, so my husband, small daughter and I zipped over to this restored chapel in a Mendips village for a night. And from the moment we arrived, it blew our minds. You walk into the most enormous space and feel your jaw drop. On your left, a Baby Grand piano (which in situ appears tiny, to give you an idea of perspective). Over your head the hugest candelabra. Straight ahead, the original organ and an ancient wooden pulpit (from which our daughter delivered a rousing lecture about dolphins, slightly odd as we could only see the top of her head).
And interspersed, colourful contemporary furnishings, which somehow blend in beautifully. A velvet yellow chaise longue; a cowskin stool. Vintage music posters and table football. We loved every inch of it – and of the inky-blue kitchen diner, the quirky utility room (oh, the tiles!), and the 2 kingsize bedrooms upstairs.
Whilst owner Luca gave us a tour, I quizzed her as to how it all came about (and whether she’d like to house swap for a year).
How in the world…?
We were just walking through the fields near to where we live in Chew Vally, and stumbled across this place. We were immediately captivated by the sense of history and the potential of its space, and were thrilled to get it at sealed bids. Renovations and interiors are my business, but this was my biggest challenge yet.
Did you have a very deliberate vision from the start?
Definitely. I wanted to create a welcoming, warm space full of character that would give guests a sensory and luxurious experience. My colour palette was chosen to complement the warmth of all the wood – copper accents, petrol blues and emerald greens – and I added texture through jewel velvets, antique kilims, leather chairs, and by using Little Green’s specialist distemper paints on the lime plaster walls.
The armchairs in the mezzanine gallery mean you can sit and admire the grand scale and atmosphere of the room below. But the original organ remains the main focal point of the room. It dates from 1888.
Where did you get all the incredible furnishings?
Many are from the Old Cinema in Chiswick (one of my favourite shops when I lived in London); there are mirrors from Marrakech; the beds are from Loaf, and the chaise longue is a Swoon edition. The wingback chair and rug are from Lots Road Auction House… the copper bath was from a reclamation yard. I had so much fun putting it all together.
What’s behind all the music art?
My husband has worked in the music industry for 30 years (he actually signed Coldplay) and we both love music. So there are rare Rolling Stones tour posters, paintings of famous album covers – Pink Floyd, Paul Weller etc. It’s actually an ideal retreat for music lovers, as the acoustics are incredible.
What touches are the most popular with guests?
The copper rolltop bath, the Baby Grand, and the table football.
How would you spend a perfect 24 hours in the space?
With friends. Arrive late afternoon and cook supper while chatting, drinking wine and playing music in the kitchen. Eat at the big handmade table, then chill on the sofas in the main room. After a leisurely start to the next day, we’d go for a walk across the fields and have lunch in the local pub next to the huge inglenook fireplace, with a tired happy dog and everyone in wellies. We’d then walk back to the Chapel (the short way!) for homemade tea and cake before heading off.
And what’s your favourite time of year to come?
In autumn/winter, for crisp mornings, seeing frost in the fields, and wrapping up warm for countryside walks then coming back home to be all cosy. The rich colours feel especially warm when it’s cold outside.
Read my full review and find direct booking details here.