The 90s singer-turned-designer has lived in 21 houses. Has she finally found ‘the one?’ Pearl talks to Jessica Jonzen about falling in love with her Somerset home
PEARL COLLABORATED WITH DEVOL ON THE DESIGN OF HER KITCHEN, WHICH SHE MOVED TO THE FORMER DINING ROOM. THE PHOTOGRAPH OVER THE AGA IS BY SAM TAYLOR-JOHNSON
When we’re house-hunting, aside from ticking off the list of more prosaic requirements, many of us hope to feel that indefinable certainty that it’s ‘the one’. The elusive house that we’ve been searching for, where we can create a home of our own. But sometimes it’s more of a slow burn.
When designer Pearl Lowe first saw her home at the end of a quiet lane on the outskirts of the Somerset town of Frome, she was intrigued but not convinced. “My friend had told me about it and said ‘I’ve found your house – it’s so you, it has your name on it.’”
A serial mover, Pearl went to look at it on a snowy day in 2011. “The lady of the house – who had five daughters who had all grown up and left home – was tobogganing down the hill. I just thought ‘this is amazing’.”
PEARL’S KITCHEN IS THE ‘CLASSIC ENGLISH KITCHEN’ BY DEVOL. AT THE OPPOSITE END OF THE ROOM, AN ARRAY OF PRINTS SITS ABOVE AN ANTIQUE SOFA
As she was shown around the gloriously higgledy-piggledy turreted Georgian house, Pearl asked how many bedrooms it had. “The owner said ‘I think there are 10 or 11’. I felt so daunted by it, I thought it was far too big,” she says. “It has a sort of round frontage to it and round windows and I only liked square box-shaped houses so while I thought it was beautiful, I didn’t think it was really me.”
The house was built in 1826 by a very wealthy man for his wife. They had 10 children and her name was Augustus and she wore a crown – she was really eccentric.”
On a practical level, it was also out of budget. “I thought ‘oh well, we can’t afford it anyway,’ so I didn’t let myself think about it.” The house languished on the market for another six years and Pearl kept an eye on the price. “I bumped into the lady in the flea market in Frome and she said ‘you really should come over and make me a silly offer’.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Which is something as well as bedrooms that the house has a surfeit of. “It was built in 1826 by a very wealthy man for his wife. They had 10 children and her name was Augustus and she wore a crown – she was really eccentric,” says Pearl, with delight.
PEARL AT HER BREAKFAST ROOM TABLE, WHICH IS COVERED IN ONE OF HER LACE CURTAIN PANELS. PEARL WEARS A DRESS FROM HER OWN COLLECTION
It’s the sixth house that Pearl and her musician husband, Danny Goffey, the drummer with the 90s band Supergrass, have lived in since leaving London – and their famously rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle – in 2005.
Having started off in Hampshire, the couple settled on Somerset as the place to raise their three children: Alfie, now 22 and a successful DJ, Frankie, 19 and 13-year-old Betty. Pearl’s eldest daughter, Daisy, is now 30 and lives in Camden.
“My husband always says that I’m a gypsy because I always want to move after a year of being somewhere – I get itchy feet. I also love black lace – he’s so sure that I’ve got Romany blood,” Pearl says. The gorgeous antique gypsy caravan in the garden only adds to the image.
THE GYPSY CARAVAN SET UP FOR A SHOOT LAST SUMMER; THE EXTERIOR OF PEARL’S GEORGIAN HOUSE; THE VIEW FROM PEARL’S BATHTUB. ALL IMAGES: PEARL LOWE / INSTAGRAM
On completion day in 2017, Pearl had builders on stand-by to rip out the carpets. “I pulled everything out. I painted all the floors white and one of the main reasons I chose deVOL to design my kitchen was that they said they could do it in three weeks. I loved their style and also thought they were really cool.” Pearl collaborated with them on the design and suggested the island cupboards were fitted with glass, “like a haberdasher’s shop”.
My husband always says that I’m a gypsy because I always want to move after a year of being somewhere – I get itchy feet. I also love black lace – he’s so sure that I’ve got Romany blood.”
It’s an elegant and restrained room, but with Pearl’s signature edge. The classic shaker cabinets, white walls and worn-in floorboards are given a modern lift with a Sam Taylor-Johnson photograph above the Aga. At the opposite end of the kitchen, an eclectic grouping of art, including the brilliantly defiant ‘I’m Not Sorry’ print by Zoe Grace sits above an antique sofa.
The rest of the house, meanwhile, is a confection of pattern and print. In the dining room, where Pearl runs her successful dress label and interiors business, she has decorated with House of Hackney’s Midnight Garden paper. “I wanted it to feel really cosy with lots of rich fabrics,” she says.
A BATHROOM IN THE GEORGIAN HOUSE, WHICH FEATURES LOTUS WALLPAPER BY FARROW & BALL
Elsewhere, she has used papers and fabrics by Nicholas Herbert and Robert Kime, as well as from her own collaboration with Woodchip & Magnolia, which is launching her second collection later in the spring. Finished off with beautifully chosen antiques, every room is a perfect study in faded glamour – the fitting title of Pearl’s forthcoming interiors books, due out in October.
Yet for someone so used to moving and with such a natural eye for design, Pearl found choosing how to decorate this house difficult. “It used to keep me up at night wondering if I should do pretty wallpaper or just white walls,” she says. “In some ways, I wish I’d just done white – it would have been a lot cheaper! I put loads of wallpaper up that I didn’t like and ended up going over it twice more,” she admits.
The same thing happened with her and Danny’s en suite bathroom which she says took two practice runs before she settled on the pink Alalpardo tiles by Bert & May and the gorgeous copper bathtub.
THE TRADITIONAL PRETTINESS OF THE SITTING ROOM WALLPAPER IS GIVEN A MODERN EDGE WITH ANIMAL PRINT FURNITURE. IMAGE: PEARL LOWE / INSTAGRAM
And while the house is enormous by anyone’s standards, Pearl has succeeded in making it feel cosy. “The previous owner used to rent part of it out with Airbnb so it has two different boilers so you can shut off half the house,” says Pearl. “It’s one of those houses where it is big but you can get away with it.”
In some ways, I wish I’d just painted it white – it would have been a lot cheaper! I put loads of wallpaper up that I didn’t like and ended up going over it twice more.”
It’s also a home that’s full of life. “It’s a real working house. Danny has his studio here; I do lots of shoots and have women coming over to try on dresses and order fabrics,” says Pearl. “It’s a bit embarrassing when the boys come downstairs in their pyjamas in the afternoon and start making bacon. I’m like ‘for God’s sake, go upstairs! I’m working!’” she laughs.
THE VIEW FROM THE MULLIONED WINDOWS IN PEARL’S 13-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER BETTY’S BEDROOM. IMAGE: PEARL LOWE / INSTAGRAM
Life in Somerset is the polar opposite to the one Pearl left behind in London. “I don’t really go out much anymore because I’m so tired after such a busy day,” she says. “Danny is an amazing cook so he cooks every night for us all and then we watch films. This house is where we retreat from the world and live a very quiet family-orientated life.”
So, does she feel like she’s beginning to put down roots? “Maybe I moved so much before because I was just looking for this house. We’ve been here for two years and I haven’t looked on Right Move!” she says. “I’m very, very happy we found it. I feel like I’ve come home.”
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