In tribute to her parents' dedication to the Bocconoc estate, Sarah Fortesque has created a sensataional transformation of the Stewardry, which embraces its history and creates a welcoming and opening space.

The Stewardry at Boconnoc Estate is a wildly romantic 18th century manor house, set in a tranquil valley in the Cornish countryside, near Lostwithiel. The striking property sits within exceptional grounds, hidden at the end of a two-mile private drive; a stately home-from-home, where fascinating history and character combine with vibrant interior design. There’s a bounty of parkland to explore and lots of history to discover within the 7,500-acres of lush gardens, ancient woodlands, lake and myriad of walking trails – it’s a place to reconnect with nature and the wildlife that inhabits it.

An extensive renovation project has transformed Boconnoc to its former glory, offering a luxurious retreat where eye-grabbing interior decor and modern furnishings are fused with period features, amidst striking Georgian architecture.

Great British Life: The Stewardry sits in glorious countryside as part of the Boconnoc estate. Image: John HerseyThe Stewardry sits in glorious countryside as part of the Boconnoc estate. Image: John Hersey

The Stewardry was once the house for the estate’s land-agent – a Georgian front with the main living rooms and four large spacious ensuite-bedrooms with a 1980s extension housing the two kitchens, a further sitting-room and three bedrooms with three bathrooms. It has been masterfully transformed by interior designer, Sarah Fortescue - daughter of Boconnoc’s owners, Anthony and Elizabeth Fortescue. Sarah grew up living and breathing the restoration of the Grade I-listed country house after it was left vacant for 45-years. She explains: ‘Over a 12-year period, I watched my father lovingly restore Boconnoc; the energy that resonates from it speaks a thousand words - local master-craftsmen were brought in for roof repairs, plaster mouldings, floors and ceilings, plasterwork, plumbing, electrics, and the restoration of the painted staircase that took five-months and two restorers to bring back to life.

‘In 2011, I took on completing the interiors and this propelled me into starting my career as an interior designer. With the project under my belt, I moved to Hong Kong and started my business.’

The Stewardry is the latest addition to Sarah’s portfolio; having boldly put her mark on the property with an eclectic fusion of colour and texture, as well as vibrant and evocative prints that are inspired from her childhood spent in both Cornwall and Africa - think tropical palms and lots of greens fused with colour pops reminiscent of the surrounding countryside. Sarah has carefully considered every nook, bringing nature into the light-filled space.

Great British Life: Sarah has used her interior design expertise to breath new life in to The Stewardry (c) Tim Charles PhotographySarah has used her interior design expertise to breath new life in to The Stewardry (c) Tim Charles Photography

When it came to the renovation, Sarah set herself the challenge to ensure The Stewardry didn’t feel like the house it once was.

‘It was gloomy and dark with small doorways between large expansive rooms with Georgian proportions and high ceilings’, she remembers. ‘By opening up these areas, I have managed to breathe life into the space.’

Since a young girl, Sarah has loved pattern and colour, with a fascination with fabric and wallpaper.

‘In the context of The Stewardry - a fairly large house with seven bedrooms and bathrooms, two kitchens and five living rooms - every room needed to make you feel special, as well as comfortable and above all - the key to my work - each space resonates positive and harmonious energy,’ Sarah enthuses.

The interior has masses of character and a little of the unexpected with Ottoline Devries Tulip wallpaper covering the kitchen walls, set against rich teal cabinetry and cameo white existing retro-fitted cupboards from floor-to-ceiling.

‘I designed the wallpaper for the Drawing Room, seeking inspiration from the gardens – the beautiful Magnolia and the Grandiflora that climbs the front of The Stewardry exterior wall. By harmoniously drawing nature's palette of invigorating greens, nourishing pinks, calming blues and serene off-whites, each room is unique, yet resonates with the rest for a fluidity of colour and pattern throughout the house.’

Great British Life: The pretty prints extend in to the bedrooms (c) Tim Charles PhotographyThe pretty prints extend in to the bedrooms (c) Tim Charles Photography

Sarah focused on opening up the spaces downstairs, allowing the rooms to flow into one another, she explains: ‘This allows a special spatial flow throughout the downstairs, and although the footprint of the house is large, it is far from imposing. In most rooms downstairs, there is an open fireplace and in the breakfast room a large modern wood-burner, sitting centrally between two vast gilt, antique-mirrors. Most of the furniture was sourced throughout the UK and from family at Boconnoc.’

The proportions of the Georgian part of the house combined with the huge amount of natural light that floods through the space are unmissable.

‘The windows are huge, particularly impressive when you’re in bed with the curtains drawn open – the ancient woodland that surrounds the entire house engulfs you in its majestic essence.’

Nature has always been one of Sarah’s biggest inspirations and she shares: ‘Boconnoc has an extraordinary energy; healing, serene and magical, therefore it comes naturally for me to draw from the natural beauty of its surrounding landscape with a strong influence to the aesthetic of my designs. Springtime is my greatest inspiration - combining the electric hues of the azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons, the gardens subtropical scenery with the dry stonewalling and carpets of primroses and bluebells, it is a natural solution when taking that colour palette and presenting it in the interior design of The Stewardry.’

Great British Life: Each bedroom has its own ensuite (c) Tim Charles PhotographyEach bedroom has its own ensuite (c) Tim Charles Photography

Sarah’s late father, Anthony Fortescue had his own furniture business, creating handmade British furniture in Chippendale style. The Ante Room pays homage to him with Anthony Fortescue chairs – made with brown leather – which offsets the coral-pink walls.

‘It was important to showcase The Ante Room; we created a double-door opening and had large oak panelled doors made - where there had previously been a small poky door - opening out into the drawing room. It consists of two gloriously large spaces that open out as one, with hand polished wooden floors, brought back to life after I discovered them under the old carpets. There’s an existing Wedgewood fire surround in the drawing room and in the Ante room, a beautiful ornate glass door leading onto the lawn, overlooking the stream and ancient woodland across the valley.’

The Stewardry is elegant, charismatic and comfortable with centuries of history ingrained within its walls, and now with new life breathed into the space, it sings with all the vibrancy of a renewed Cornish countryside retreat.

The Stewardry is now open for guests and sleeps 14,

Great British Life: In most of the downstairs rooms there is an open fireplace (c) Tim Charles PhotographyIn most of the downstairs rooms there is an open fireplace (c) Tim Charles Photography

Great British Life: The Ante Room pays homage to Sarah's father, furniture designer Anthony Fortescue (c) Tim Charles PhotographyThe Ante Room pays homage to Sarah's father, furniture designer Anthony Fortescue (c) Tim Charles Photography

Great British Life: Sarah's colour palette was inspired by the natural surroundings in springtime (c) Tim Charles PhotographySarah's colour palette was inspired by the natural surroundings in springtime (c) Tim Charles Photography

Sarah’s top tips for transforming a period property

Combine old with new - Be empathetic to the property's exterior, as well as its history. The juxtaposition of old and new characteristics create a sense of moving with the times, keeping the interior looking timeless rather than dated.

Restore - Look under carpets for fabulous old floorboards, when polished they can enhance the sense of space and elegance of a room. Have fun sourcing beautiful rugs, creating more texture and colour where needed.

Light – Make the most of natural light and be mindful of your lighting/electrical plan to ensure ambient and directional lighting are positioned to enhance the interior space and objects, to its most spectacular.

Texture - Think about different textures and how they are positioned within your interior space. Texture creates intrigue, allowing the story to unfold as your eye is guided around the room.

Colour – When choosing colour palettes, paint a number of large samples on wallpaper-lining paper, and hang them around the room. There will be subtle and significant changes to the hues depending on natural and artificial light within a room – take note of how these alter at different times of the day.