Calm, Cool & Collected: Kathleen Jamieson's Malvern Barn

The barn-turned-home retains a rustic aesthetic with enough quirk to go around.

 Kathleen Jamieson’s Euro-chic country kitchen pays homage to the designs of MacKenzie-Childs. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)At every turn, Kathleen Jamieson is surrounded by the thoughtfully selected art and collectibles she’s amassed over the past 50 years. Each room in the Malvern barn she calls home is a blend of styles and periods, from the English Staffordshire in the dining room to the Majolica pottery lining the walls in the sunroom.

A highly regarded interior designer, Jamieson stays faithful to her Chester County roots by paying tribute to works from local artists like Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, Karl Kuerner, and others. While her Haverford antique store, Mock Fox, is her public showroom, the treasures in her house are for her to enjoy with family and friends. “I’m of that generation that looks forward to coming home at night,” says Jamieson. “My home is my castle—and it always has been.” Jamieson and her late husband designed their home 12 years ago on a sprawling property, razing the existing ranch house to build a smaller-scale version of the 12,000-square-foot barn they’d left behind in Unionville. “I’ve always loved open spaces—lofts, warehouses, stables and carriage houses—but barns have always been my favorite,” says Jamieson. “I’m fascinated with all the things you can do with them.”

She became fascinated with barns and repurposing older structures, even transforming downtown Malvern’s historic 1899 firehouse into retail space on the first floor with three luxury apartments above. “There’s a place for everybody,” says Jamieson. “I’m open to non-structured environments. I prefer a touch of traditional with a touch of openness.” 

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And her keen eye as an interior designer enables her to mix periods and styles with confidence. “I’m not a cookie-cutter designer,” she says.

In her own home, Jamieson added definition to the open spaces with the creative use of curtains, stall-like walls and, in the living room, a massive fieldstone fireplace. She blends animal prints and florals, the rich tones and colors most evident in the selection of artwork and furnishings. “I don’t like everything the same,” she says. “Things work together because I love the way it looks.”

In the formal living space, an antique gold-leaf chandelier from London hangs among rustic 100-year-old barn beams. Artwork by Wilmington artist Carolyn Blish hangs alongside studies by famed French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Nearby, Chester County painter Joan Kent’s portrait of the Jamieson family foxhunting sits above a horse sculpture by Unionville’s Clayton Bright. “The art I buy is what I want to look at, and that’s what I encourage my clients to do when they’re buying art,” she says. “If you do that, you’ll never tire of it.”

In the kitchen, antique copper pots hanging from a rack made in France lend a European-countryside flair. Some of the larger ones are from the fudge kitchens on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, the town where Jamieson grew up. An array of MacKenzie-Childs signature ceramic black-and-white check-patterned dinnerware adds to the whimsical vibe. “I did a lot of design work with the company when they first launched their line,” she says. “I have so many of the pieces.”

Jamieson’s daughter, Judy King, deserves some of the credit for the kitchen’s copper-topped farm table. “We have these copper table tops made in a body shop,” says Jamieson, whose offspring has followed in her interior-design footsteps. “We find old factory iron pieces to use as the table bases.”

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The dining room has a more lived-in feel. “It’s where I gather with my children and grandchildren for Sunday brunches and dinner,” says Jamieson. “We sit around the table and relax, and I’ll do floral arranging of flowers from my garden.”

A blue-and-white floral rug and curtains go well with Jamieson’s collection of blue glass dinnerware and English Staffordshire china. French doors lead outside to Jamieson’s English country gardens set up in vignettes, from a specially designed greenhouse to a sculpture garden filled with work from Bright and other artists. A lap pool is also a tranquil water feature. “I would’ve loved to have been a floral designer if I wasn’t an interior designer,” Jamieson confesses. “I adore flowers
and my gardens. I spend a lot of my time out here.”

Jamieson is aware that some might find her home too busy—especially younger generations used to clean lines and stark spaces. But she’s quick to remind them that she’s been a collector for more than 50 years. “I didn’t buy all this stuff yesterday,” she laughs. “I love every thing in this house.”

Indeed, every piece has a story and a fond memory attached. “I think people who come here see that,” she says. “It’s not dull and dreary—the house is filled with such happiness. And that’s what a home is supposed to be.”

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