When actress Sienna Miller first saw a 16th-century thatched-roof cottage in Buckinghamshire, England, she fell in love with it. “It was a time when I was getting a lot of press attention and I wanted a place to get away from it all. I bought the house on a whim, it offers sanctuary. I also wanted a place where family and friends could get together. It has a nurturing feeling; it’s a house with a heart,” she says.
When not acting in movies and TV series or on stage (including a role in the Apple TV+ series Extrapolations, set to debut next year), Miller, his daughter, friends and family are having a glorious time at home. And for more than a decade, she left the faded chintz-filled interior with her engineered flooring mostly intact. During the pandemic, however, when the urge arose to restore the house, she knew exactly who to call. “I wanted a Gaby house! says Miller, referring to the homes of his good friend Gaby Dellal in London and Cornwall, with their wonderful eclectic interiors where vintage fabrics and kilims, industrial accessories and other intimate elements mingle in unexpected unions that exude warmth, impeccable taste and a sincere character.
Dellal, a film and theater director by profession, was happy to take on the project and threw himself into the work with enthusiasm, commuting between London and the site while Miller, who was born in the United States and grew up in the UK, was grounded. in New York during the lockdown. “What was beautiful was that she just trusted me, and we had an agreement that she wasn’t allowed to go for six months until I finished the project,” explains Dellal.
The restoration process is as much about friendship as it is about design vision. “I gave Sienna her first job right here at my kitchen table. She had never acted before, and I remember our meeting vividly – she had a cold and was wearing a balaclava and a big sweater and I fell in love with her. I made her first film, called The path, with Paul Nicholls, about kids on motorcycles, and his career catapulted from there,” says Dellal, who obviously has an eye for talent.
This, however, was not a simple makeover. Dellal, who had visited the house several times, knew its bones and could see its true potential. She first undertook to empty the house from top to bottom: cupboards, boxes, clothes, cupboards, furniture and mattresses included. After this gigantic cleanup, Dellal hired builders who began replacing all the lattice windows, ripping up the floors, and opening up the eaves of Miller’s low-ceilinged bedroom. Outside, a gravel driveway and parking area have been demolished to make way for a poetic wildflower meadow with a simple perimeter passing track for cars. An old garage has also been transformed into a guest bedroom for family and friends who are welcome to stay even when Miller is in New York (she recently purchased a West Village townhouse) or filming.
“When I took on the project, I told Sienna that I would change everything – floors, windows, doors included,” says Dellal, who embarked on the multi-pronged sourcing job of locating suppliers, artisans and dealers across the UK, USA and Turkey. “I’ve found the people in the interior business to be so lovely,” says Dellal, whose own black book of dealers and suppliers has grown over all his years of directing and producing rich films. in detail and in atmosphere.
Twenty salvaged Crittall windows were found on eBay; dark brown floorboards from the Georgian and Victorian era were discovered at Norfolk Antique & Reclamation and other specialists; and the perfect fennel green kitchen tiles were discovered at Bert & May. Black and white Carrara for the kitchen worktops were sourced from Retrouvius and Verona Marble respectively, and a lovely pair of patio doors that magically filter the light come from The French House in York. “All the beams were black, which I can’t stand. So we burned black – it’s so much softer,” says Dellal, who envisioned much lighter, more open spaces with colors and textures flowing smoothly from room to room.