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Inside Max Rollitt’s fascinating renovated barn filled with exquisite antiques

Interior designer and antique dealer Max Rollitt welcomes us into his renovated grain storage barn in Hampshire, for our latest episode of Design Notes. Yavington Barn is a haven for any antique lover, with each room exuding character through the clever arrangement of antique furniture and decorative detailing. “There’s so much within the decorative arts which is touched by hand that actually exemplifies richness,” says Max as he explains what he looks for in an antique. “That’s really what I’m looking for – something with some real texture and a story, and beauty”. After talking through the inspiration behind Yavington Barn, Max takes us on a tour of the rooms. From the Georgian Gothic windows to the 18th-century sofa, Max’s impeccable eye has created a living interior out of this open-plan space, full of his unique and beautiful finds. Watch the full episode of Design Notes with Max Rollitt, as we tour his inviting and fascinating restored barn.

Released on 11/25/2022


[birds chirping]

[gentle music]

This is Yarrington Barn.

This was a grain storage barn

which was sort of divided into various compartments

with metal shuttering and a big hot air blower.

We've tried to create some context

in the rooms that we've got and also really good storage

for the multitude of items coming in and going out.

I started as a cabinet maker in the late '80s.

The only way I could really work with my hands

was in restoration, and I found it really rewarding.

My mom was an antique dealer and she offered for me

to take over her business,

which was supplying the ladies of Winchester

and really lovely things.

But I was more interested in higher-end antiques

and also in more decorative.

The high-end mahogany and walnut furniture

still really excite me.

I love the sort of the full architectural nature

of their design and the history that comes with them.

But also what's important to me

with everything that I buy, that it has some souls.

So whether that's exemplified

in the patternation of the timber

and how that's evolved

and the history of the piece, how it's been used.

But also there's all the other elements,

like old fabrics on a piece or just the texture

of some gilt and paint work.

So really I think there's so much

within the decorative arts which is touched by hand

that actually exemplifies that sort of richness.

And that's really what I'm looking for

is something with some real texture and a story and beauty.

[gentle music]

The barn has enormous scale,

obviously it's a great big high room.

The architecture is very traditional

of that sort of mid 18th century feeling.

I was lucky enough to have these windows,

and they're still also in all of their tatty paint finish.

And also they have this sort of bleached out shuttering

that still works and acts as a bit of extra security.

I drew up the moldings and the skirting,

we ran those out, and I had an old fireplace

from the same period.

We've integrated it all,

I actually had a really old hath as well,

beautiful old Dove Grey marble hearth.

So there's all of these elements

that I'd accumulated over time.

The colors in Edward Bulmer color, it's called aquatic.

He's sort of developed this paint

that has got a sort of real resonance to it,

so it's not just a flat finish,

you actually feel there's movement of light within it.

In this area we've got sort of really interesting pieces,

this bookcase is traditional brown furniture.

It's very low-waisted, and it's very fine in its design.

I'll buy interesting Italian pieces

that sort of relate to this same period,

but this is a different genre

and it brings a different feeling,

slightly more exotic interest,

and a softness to it as well

because it's not this brown mahogany,

it's using more typically walnut

and other exotic woods of inlay.

So there's more floweriness to it and a bit more joy.

And here this hanging is of an Iranian princess

with all of her family around,

and I just love this sort of variety, I love texture, color,

and something with a real story to it.

[gentle music]

So this is the snug,

it's one of my favorite rooms in the shop.

I like it because it's small and it's friendly.

And within it, what we've done is,

we've paneled the rooms sort of give the walls some texture.

There's a broad range of styles going on here,

we've got very sort of formal smart camelback sofa

from about 1740, '50

which we've upholstered in this Claremont silk,

beautiful chest on stand, big pot from Ovan

with all of its delays dribbling down.

What I love is layering, and I think for me

that's part of sort of the journey for me finding it,

but also it sort of tells a story within the household,

it's sort of is part of creating a home.

[gentle music]

We're in the hallway, a really important space I think,

when welcoming people into a home.

This I've sort of given a lot of warmth

even though it's a gray paint,

it's got a real texture and depth to it,

goes from quite a red blue, right through to a gray

just depending on how the light moves in the day.

And with this geometric pattern,

it takes it out of the more domestic comfort rooms

into a movement space.

In here we've got, obviously a collection of carpets

that have just come in,

and then a really beautiful large table

that came out of an Oxford University refractory.

If you've got a long enough hallway,

it's nice to have a big long table

with pair of larger scale lamps on it.

In this instance there's some

early 18th century pricket sticks,

and then we've just got an arrangement

of various different frames that we've bought.

This is a really beautiful piece

in that it's got that real texture,

but I think really what makes it special

is this sort of crusty warmth that it has.

It just shows real fine work in all of this cross banding

and this fine boxwood and ebony lines.

This sort of design was meant to look like a sort of animal,

it's an animalistic stand,

so it sort of stands on something robust.

In this corner, we've got

this fantastic Pierre Montes table,

but what I love about it,

is it's sort of slightly decrepit feel,

you know, it's showing its ware,

and it's knees have gone, and it's had it foot replaced.

This is an old repair from the 18th century.

And the top is a Spanish bocote veneer,

it's a big thick veneer, but it's missing chunks

and it's all book matched

into a beautiful pattern on the top.

And then above it, behind the flowers,

[chuckles] which are hiding it,

it's this fantastic queen on looking glass

with a fantastic pattern cut into this triple plate.

And I love early glass, there's a softness to it

because it's mercury backed, it doesn't have the same glare

that a modern piece of mirror plate does.

We usually use this room as a dining room.

Interesting, in here we've got

a traditional mahogany dining table,

and then we've got these wonderful regency decorated chairs

with their sort of black and gilt,

So we've got all sorts of colors going on,

we've got this Edward Bulmer paint on the wall,

an enormous window on the end, but it's a narrow space.

I like to introduce a big mirror here,

which reflects the space within the room.

It's also really good for serving

so that you can see what's going on.

On the table we've got some interesting bits,

we've got a soft tour de table,

really great for big dining table

so you can put flowers on or your condiments on there.

We've got a beautiful crystal luster,

I love crystal and I love lusters

because they're sort of bounce light around.

And then we've got a lovely Lazy Susan,

which is the ideal addition to your breakfast table

for all your condiments, so you can just spin it around

so everyone can get their Marmalade.

And then there's this Wellington chest.

I love mid-height furniture

because it creates this movement within the room,

and it's a really dangerous place to be

where you are sort of decorating all at one level.

[gentle music]

We call this room the Aubrey room

because it's got a circular window,

which is a bit like a ship.

And Captain Aubrey is the hero of mine

from the Master and Commander series from Patrick O'Brien.

The decoration is always changing in these spaces,

at the moment we've got this wonderful braquenie fabric

that's made by Pierre Frey.

It's quite a challenging paper to use,

it's quite strong and vibrant in its colors.

And I chose to put this very warm brown trim to it,

and it really works well with this very white ground

that's on the paper.

We've got a beautiful Italian table here,

a bit of painted regency furniture,

and one of our ottomans that we make

with this sort of faux bamboo painted base.

And this lovely Hungarian, I don't know what it is,

if it's a rug, or mat, or a blanket,

it's very thick for a blanket,

but I just love it sort of spottiness and it's texture,

which is dog-like really [chuckles], it's like my terrier.

I suppose the joy of it is, I mean, it's indulgent,

It's pure self-indulgence really.

I didn't think I'd ever become an antique dealer,

but it's sort of subliminal,

and I can see it with my children now,

who I've got four boys, three of whom are artists,

and the last one's just training to be a cabinet maker.

I think being surrounded by things,

and this sort of constant flow and stimulation

is subliminal, and it doesn't mean you've got good taste

but it sort of gets under your skin

and permeates into your soul.

It's there somehow.

[gentle music]

Starring: Max Rolitt

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