HOME: Romancing the stone

Jeweller Fiona Knapp describes her house as ‘English but with an dash of Hollywood’. The English side of things is easy to see - the mock Tudor exterior, the sweeping gravel drive, the wood panelled walls and leaded windows all suggest Brontë sister heroines needling away on their embroidery whilst waiting for some Darcy chap to come along. As for Hollywood, growing up in 70s New Zealand with memories of her mum vacuuming five-inch long shag-pile, Fiona admits a fondness for La-La- Land kitsch. 

Set amidst three acres of Chilterns land, the mock Tudor-style exterior of the house.

Set amidst three acres of Chilterns land, the mock Tudor-style exterior of the house.


Tearing away at the English country house cliché, Fiona enjoys living between the old and the new. The interior is a mix of  Italian and Danish furniture, ornate Victorian finds and objects the couple picked up during their years of travelling.
Tearing away at the English country house cliché, Fiona enjoys living between the old and the new. The interior is a mix of  Italian and Danish furniture, ornate Victorian finds and objects the couple picked up during their years of travelling.

Very much part of my upbringing, this love for all things quaint and English was picked up by American designers to influence the interiors of Hollywood homes. I think they’re fabulous. My father was very much a Burt Lancaster character, so for me, the idea of living in an original Tudorbethan mansion really appeals. It’s a bit cheesy but I like the idea of a house not paying too much reverence to it’s past.
The wood panelled walls and parquet floor were reclaimed from an Elizabethan house that used to be on the property before this house was built. Fiona enjoys mixing Victorian eBay finds such as this decorative cabinet and chair with pieces from her travels, including this fabulous mask from Mozambique and the 30s pastel-toned painting picked up at a Parisian flea market.

The wood panelled walls and parquet floor were reclaimed from an Elizabethan house that used to be on the property before this house was built. Fiona enjoys mixing Victorian eBay finds such as this decorative cabinet and chair with pieces from her travels, including this fabulous mask from Mozambique and the 30s pastel-toned painting picked up at a Parisian flea market.

Fiona and her fellow expat husband, Michael, fell for the faded grandeur of this 1905 property in the Chilterns that’s a mad mix of styles – not just Tudor but also faux-Palladian and neo-Gothic - and its three acres of gardens which allows them to live the country life complete with chickens.

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Rather than being immaculate, the orchards are utterly run down and the swimming pool is disused, so we’ve definitely brought a shabby chicness to the region. But I have to say, I honestly don’t care. It’s such a luxury to feel free.

Spending a lot of her time in her 20s and 30s travelling, these days she designs from the tranquility of her summer house and tends to her chickens, Gold, Rock and Stone. “For me, jewellery is not so much about fashion but about something that should be treasured and is enduring. The same applies to our home. Everything we have has been picked up on our travels and has some significance. When it comes to my life and the things I have around me, I want them to mean something to me.”

Spending a lot of her time in her 20s and 30s travelling, these days she designs from the tranquility of her summer house and tends to her chickens, Gold, Rock and Stone. “For me, jewellery is not so much about fashion but about something that should be treasured and is enduring. The same applies to our home. Everything we have has been picked up on our travels and has some significance. When it comes to my life and the things I have around me, I want them to mean something to me.”

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Rather than focusing on the immaculate, Fiona prefers the variety of life her new life brings - keeping in touch with the urban via the internet whilst watching the woodpecker visiting the monkey puzzle tree instead. Like with her stones, ultimately, she was drawn to the house for its difference. As every stone is unique, so is her mock Tudor, faux Palladian, fake Revivalist - but very real home. 

I’m obsessed with the blog, notvogue.com

My favourite discovery is an old one…. daily yoga.

I collect different gemstone varieties. I love garnets as they have such differing qualities and Kauri tree copal resin, which along with greenstone are the only gems found in New Zealand.

When I’m away I miss my own car. I love the freedom of driving.

My favourite colour is Fire Opal orange.

My favourite city is Rio de Janiero.

My guilty pleasure is long hot baths. Water is so relaxing.

When I was young, I dreamt of doing exactly what I do now.

I would like my jewellery to be remembered. I know it will be passed on and loved for a long time to come.

Luxury is a rare occurrence: be it a special gem or perhaps a memory that endures with time and knowledge.