We discovered 14th century beams and hidden fireplaces, which was magical. Local craftspeople plastered the whole house in a very round and soft style, with no hard edges at all so the house feels very feminine.
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[dropcap]C[/dropcap]arina Cooper is the author of three cookbooks including The Notting Hill Cookbook and The Working Cook and has written about food for London’s Evening Standard newspaper, Harpers Bazaar, Australian Vogue Living, Italian Elle, Red and The Saturday Times. A regular visitor to Sri Lanka, Carina was intoduced to the country when she cooked at the Galle Literary Festival with Rose Gray from the River Café and her latest book is called Ulpotha: A Kitchen in Paradise. She lives in a traditional Devon longhouse where she tends her biodynamic kitchen garden and regularly forages the hedgerows and fields around her small holding.
“We bought our house five years ago and although it is in a nice setting, it was really ugly. The previous owner had put in modern windows and there was a horrible extension on the front. It had had a really bad 1980s makeover. We knocked down the extension and changed the windows and as we went along we discovered 14th century beams and hidden fireplaces, which was magical. Half way through the build, our builders went bankrupt but we found some local craftspeople who plastered the whole house in a very round and soft style, with no hard edges at all so the house feels very feminine.
I’m quite precise when I do up a house and I do moodboards, work through things and decide the colours before I start. I found some wonderful old copper doors from Retruvius for the kitchen and and worked around them. I knew I wanted a blue ceiling and a yellow hallway downstairs and I wanted to create a Russian folk room with lots of plants and my antique Afghan throws over the sofas. I find the reds very warm and stimulating for work.
The lovely thing about our house is that we use every room. I have a book room where I made shelves from scaffolding planks and I write in there every day. When I’m not writing we spend our time in the kitchen and when we have people over we sit and chat in the middle room.
I’m lucky to have eleven acres of land here with a walled kitchen garden and an orchard. When we arrived I planted quince, mulberry, almond and apricot trees and lots of fruit trees. We have set aside a lot of the land as pasture and the local farmer grazes his sheep and cows on it and we make our own hay. I grow all my own fruit and vegetables, masses of garlic, which I put in everything and lots of flowers that are wonderful to use in salads in the spring.
Although we live in a farmhouse, inside it is rather tribal bohemian and eclectic in style because it is filled with things I’ve picked up from years of travelling. If you like something, it all tends to go together and that is the beauty of home.”