Alice Naylor-Leyland is one of my favorite follows on Instagram. By all accounts, her life appears to be a real-life fairytale, and through her I vicariously live out my English countryside fantasies. (I have previously featured her here, here, and here.) Alice divides her time between a flat in London and her home in the English countryside. Built in the 19th century, Stibbington House is located in Cambridgeshire and has been in her husband Tom’s family since the 1970s.
Alice and Tom agreed from the outset that Nantclwyd Hall – Tom’s parents’ Wales estate decorated in the 1950s by the legendary John Fowler – would be a design inspiration for Stibbington. Then they mixed their traditional good taste with playful details, enlisting decorator Flora Soames to help find fabrics and new resources. Decorative wallpapers, an abundance of chintz, walls covered in pictures and plates, and 18th- and 19th-century furniture are now the centerpiece of Stibbington’s decor.
Photography by Simon Upton and captions by Amanda Brooks for Architectural Digest.
Heir to one of the great real-estate dynasties in England, Tom worked in the furniture department at Christie’s before going on to manage his family’s properties. With his experience, he weighs in heavily when it comes to choosing the “right” frame for a piece of art or determining the “correct” proportions of a sideboard for the entry hall.
Alice infused a feminine take on English country style throughout. Every room is defined by pattern or texture or a sophisticated mix of colors, much like Alice’s celebrated fashion sense. Her love of coordination is evidenced in lampshade trims that complement upholstery piping. In each of the guest bedrooms, a floral-covered luggage rack mirrors the curtains and throw pillows. “Thank God I’ve been around my mother-in-law enough to see how she runs her homes,” she said. “Not one centimeter is unconsidered; that attention to detail is key.”
She credits her own mother’s influence (read about Alice’s elegant mother, Serena Fresson, here) for the cozy and welcoming atmosphere of the eight guest rooms, outfitted with every amenity a visitor could want. And she points to the example of the legendary Nancy Lancaster’s drawing room for showing that it’s the layers—the things you collect and add over the years—that give a house its soul.
For daily inspiration from Alice’s enchanted wonderland filled with pastel-colored sheep, unicorns, rainbows, cherubic children, and couture clothing you can follow along via Instagram. This feature can be read in entirety via the September 2017 issue of Architectural Digest.