Meet Martin Hulbert – Coworth Park’s interior designer
Martin’s grand plan
My vision was simply to create a lovely place to be, somewhere that captured a feeling of being at home and seamlessly connected with the beautiful landscape.
When I first came to look around the mansion house, extensive rebuilding was taking place so it was most definitely a blank canvas. Back then, the stable accommodation was still working stables and the cottages were being lived in by the estate workers. For me this was an ideal opportunity to create something from scratch. I was determined to use this to my advantage and create a cohesive theme throughout the property.
A sense of history
The original mansion house was built in 1776, at the height of the Georgian era. This period of architecture is all about great proportions, so I kept thinking about ways to emphasise this but with a contemporary feel.
One of the many things I love about Coworth Park is that historically it was used as a country retreat for hosting lavish parties, especially during Royal Ascot week. It’s wonderful to think that it’s always been a place for entertaining and having fun.
Horses have long been associated with Coworth Park, so I created lots of references to this throughout the hotel. You’ll see this in the horse images, horseshoes and even the bed linen design, which general manager Zoe Jenkins and I designed together.
When I found out that a glorious meadow was planned, I hand drew a wildflower motif and had it woven into beautiful Irish linen for curtains, 5,000m² of it to be precise! The bulrushes I noticed growing around the lake sparked another theme and when I spotted Ian Gill’s designs at RHS Chelsea Flower Show I commissioned several pieces.
For the mansion house I was asked to create the kind of staircase you would want to slide down! The light oak spiral is a real eye-catcher and I particularly like the leather handrail, it just improves with age thanks to housekeeping’s expert care.
You certainly can’t miss the huge copper oak leaf chandelier in Restaurant Coworth Park. It’s so vast that we had to assemble it on the lawn to see how it looked before putting it in situ.
Another thing people always mention is the chandelier in The Barn restaurant, made from copper pans. I remember buying a collection of pans and visiting artist Marc Francis, who very patiently welded them into place.
The horsehair chairs in the lobby are still a real favourite of mine, so stylish. The swan table in the Drawing Room was inspired by one my grandmother had.
There are over 600 pieces of art dotted around the hotel from a wide variety of artists. I was keen to have real mix of styles and discover people I thought would be upcoming talent to watch out for.
The Barn’s decorative wall of riding tack was another of my random discoveries. I was visiting a neighbour’s barn and noticed all this really old riding equipment, which hadn’t been used for years. I asked if I could buy it and they were happy to oblige.
Having carefully built up a collection of vintage china, we had great fun smashing it to decorate the fireplaces in the Drawing Room as a fresh take on traditional plate hanging.
The bronze tree in the lobby is cast from a real tree in Scotland and was created by an artist that works with Sir Antony Gormley. I still have a bronze branch from it in my office; it’s a wonderful souvenir of my time at the hotel and makes me smile when I see it.
Come and visit us at Coworth Park to see all these wonderful things for yourself.
Martin Hulbert is an award-winning designer who works on residential and hotel projects around the world. He has received the coveted Pineapple Achievement award from House & Garden magazine and twice been named Interior Designer of the Year.