WHILE many people consider downsizing when the kids start to fly the coop, not so designer and interiors queen Pearl Lowe — her answer to empty-nest syndrome was to go out and buy a bigger nest.
The 11-bedroom Georgian pile (below) in Frome, Somerset that she now calls home is the family base she had always dreamed of, and the result of an epic search which, according to 21-year-old son Alfie, took in 21 moves in as many years.
‘Alfie reckons we have moved every year of his life — I think he is right,’ laughs Pearl. We’ve lived in some amazing houses, but I’d renovate them, do the interiors and then get bored. I guess I was always searching for The One — a place that had everything going for it, a place where the kids could have friends round to hang out, that was in the countryside and not surrounded by concrete but close enough to the town so they could have their independence. Somewhere we could entertain, where [husband] Danny could produce his music and where I could be creative. And this is it.
‘Frome is full of creative people — musicians, artists, designers and writers who actually live, work and engage here in the community instead of commuting to London. We love it here. This house feels like our forever home.’
Pearl says she will never tire of this 1820s property because of the sheer size of it, and because she has so much work to do, explaining: ‘It will keep me busy for a long time. And when all the rooms are finished, I’ll start over again.’
Their fabulous deVOL kitchen — with its wooden Shaker doors and veined marble worktops with brass taps and fittings — has only recently been installed. But already Pearl’s contemplating painting the units a darker colour. ‘Danny sometimes despairs of me,’ she laughs.
Her latest project and pride and joy is a new Bert & May bathroom with zig-zag pink tiles and stunning, freestanding copper bath. ‘I’m obsessed with zig-zags and I love pink. It’s taken three attempts to get it right but I got there in the end,’ she says. ‘If I’m not happy with a room, I won’t just make do. I can’t move on to the next job until it’s just how I want it. What can I say? I adore interiors.’
We wouldn’t argue. As well as being mum to model Daisy, 29, DJ Alfie, Frank, 18, and Betty, 12 (of whom Frank and Betty live at home), Pearl has created her own fashion line, written an interiors book (with another in the pipeline) and has helped design many clients’ homes.
And she has just launched her first wallpaper collection. You can see from her house — where almost every room is plastered in bold prints and contrasting colours — that wallpaper is another of Pearl’s great passions. ‘I love wallpaper but could never find exactly what I wanted, so I decided to design my own, inspired by all this beautiful countryside and wildlife.’
Pearl is inspired by many things, not least her love of vintage. Period chandeliers hang from the ceilings of almost every room. She’s been collecting them for years, along with gilt mirrors and pre-loved furniture from antique fairs, eBay and local car-boot sales.
‘I love faded glamour,’ she says. ‘I’ve always been drawn to a thrown-together look rather than anything perfect.
‘An object that was once the height of elegance but is now a bit battered has far more allure to me than something brand new. Why would anyone want their room to look the same as everyone else’s? I appreciate furniture that says, “Once I was glamorous, but now I’m older…” The same could be said of me,’ she laughs.
It’s obvious when you walk around her house that she knows how to put her fabulous finds together, and this rambling home is the perfect setting.
Pearl loves throws, fringed lampshades, vases and quirky vintage sidetables. And there are Moroccan rugs strewn over the original wooden floors to add colour and warmth to the lofty interiors. But she admits she doesn’t always get it right.
‘I buy a lot of things and sometimes they don’t work or I get bored of them, so I sell them or donate to charity. Danny or the kids will often come home as a rug or piece of furniture is being carted off to a new home. No one bats an eyelid now — they are used to it.’
With Daisy and Alfie having moved out, does she ever regret taking on this huge project?
‘Never!’ she says emphatically. ‘We’re a very close family and Daisy and Alfie are back a lot. We spend a lot of time together as a family. And kids never really leave home, do they?
‘I can’t see us leaving this place. It’s the perfect family house, and perfect for grandchildren. Daisy is 29, and I had three kids by her age. I’m really looking forward to grandchildren.’
With the renovations, a new dress collection on its way, her wallpaper range and a new interiors book to finish, where Pearl will find time to be a grandma is anyone’s guess. But no doubt she will pull it off with style.
Get the vintage vibe
You don’t need your eyes tested to see how chic this retro wall-mounted eye test light box sign is. £72.95, melodymaison.co.uk
Round and round
With traditional monogram embroidery and a piped edging, the Alexandrine round pink velvet cushion is perfect for a romantic living space. £19.99, maisonsdumonde.com
Show off your vintage glasses and cute cocktail kit on this antiqued gold metal bar cart. £218, audenza.com
You can’t have enough animal print this season. Faux fur animal print cushion cover, £19.99, zarahome.com
Get an opulent fix with this Five Branch Chandelier with gold fittings and large jewel-shaped droplets. £170, outthereinteriors.com
This patterned, vintage-style rug will cosy up your kitchen space, and inject some serious design cool. £99, urbanoutfitters.com
Ornate, Venetian-style glass mirrors such as this Solitaire bevelled mirror will never lose their design gravitas. £169.99, wayfair.co.uk
Is there anything more rock ‘n’ roll than this Leopard Love armchair? £675, available for pre-order, rockettstgeorge.co.uk