Designer Jen Bernard describes her approach to creating the interiors for Audley Cooper’s Hill retirement village.
The impressive Victorian Gothic mansion at the heart of the development is just a hint to its rich heritage.
The vast site comprising 66 acres is part of the Magna Carta Park near Englefield in Surrey where the famous, historic document was signed in 1215.
“We create a unique style for every project we work on, always considering the history and site locality,” says Jen Bernard those award-winning practice Bernard Interiors was awarded the coveted contract to create the ‘look and feel’ for Audley Cooper’s Hill.
“However, it was especially interesting researching the unique story of Cooper’s Hill and learning about the people who have spent time passing through this building over the last 200 years,” she adds.
A rich and regal colour palette used throughout reflects the historical period surrounding the Magna Carta – most notably in the entrance and bar bistro.
“Our role is both to create beautiful environments and to respect the building’s heritage,” Jen explains.
Retiremove: How have you managed to create interiors that are both homely and stylish?
Jen Bernard: “The lounge is a particularly homely environment for owners, with its eclectic accessories and custom made furniture.
“Soft pinks and forest-green velvets create a calming environment, while high ceilings and high windows ensure the room is flooded with light.
“The styling process included the sourcing of accessories, objet d’art and furniture which look as though they have been acquired over a lifetime, creating a homely and ‘lived-in’ feel for all.
“Well placed unique and quirky pieces also create talking points, helping to encourage conversation and socialisation between owners – for example, the abstract decorative objects placed on a stack of chic coffee table books or the little porcelain animals lined up in a row on the mantelpiece in the lounge.”
Retiremove: Can you tell us more about some of the local interior influences?
Jen Bernard: “As the mansion was home to the Royal Indian Engineering College (RIEC) in the 19th Century, there is a very subtle Indian theme running throughout the building – for example, elephant cushions feature in the lounge, while wallpaper in the private dining room is reminiscent of Indian spices, with a tonal paisley pattern.
“In the library, a leaf print wallpaper on the chimney breast echoes the forestry studies introduced at the RIEC, the first school to have a library dedicated to forestry and botanics.
“The pool and spa scheme is another great example of how we incorporate the site locality.
“Inspired by the local Runnymede flood plains and water meadows, bespoke planting and driftwood sculptures were installed against a muted moss green backdrop, creating an organic and natural feel to boost feelings of positivity and wellbeing for owners.”
Retiremove: Tell us about some of the grand detailing in the interiors scheme?
Jen Bernard: “The design for Cooper’s Hill House combines the best in hotel, residential and healthcare design to create a timeless and elegant environment for owners to enjoy their retirement.
“A selection of portraits in the entrance hall ranging from the 1800s, carefully curated from Reading Museum provide a grand entrance and create an air of mystery and magic as you enter the building.
“Hard finishes such as Venetian marble chequerboard tiles feature in the entrance and bespoke panelling details have been installed throughout. These are all sympathetic to the style and period of the building.
“It’s important to understand the building, it’s history and uniqueness.
“The history, grandeur and scale of the site definitely makes Audley Cooper’s Hill stand out, so it was of paramount importance that the interiors complemented the building.”
Audley Cooper’s Hill
Audley Cooper’s Hill is located within the 67 acres of the Magna Carta park development. It is home to 78 two-bedroom apartments, all designed to the highest specification and combined with flexible care as and when needed. Phase two will follow with 50 further apartments in two additional buildings, Charter Place and Gloucester Crescent.
The village is home to the Audley Club, offering luxurious facilities including a library, restaurant and bar, swimming pool and luxury health club which will be available to those living at Audley Cooper’s Hill as well as the local community. They will also have access to Audley Care Cooper’s Hill.