Miranda Brooks and Bastien Halard had their work cut out for them when, in 2017, the married couple acquired a 17th-century farmhouse in Gloucestershire, England. The interiors were damp and poky; outside, untouched fields rolled on for miles. “We didn’t have a single flower,” recalls Brooks (who has designed some of New York’s most beautiful gardens). The scenery was especially barren right outside the kitchen window, where the family members (including daughters Apollonie and Violette Grey) spend much of their time and Halard has positioned a couch for midday naps. So what’s a landscape architect to do? Upholster furniture in the garden, years away from blooming, with brilliant red roses—and design the fabric herself.
Catswood, a line of textiles for outdoor living named after the family’s historic home, is not Brooks’s first work with fabric—she’s assembled many custom pieces over the years—but it is one of her more personal projects, having designed the line with her husband. A relocation to England from Brooklyn just before the pandemic added to the momentum. “We were in those English wintry days, and the creative process of designing fabrics was very appealing,” says Halard, whose great-grandfather Adolphe founded the wallpaper and textile company Nobilis.
Among Catswood’s first collection are 14 patterns inspired by antique documents, sketches, and even a hair ribbon from one of their daughters. “We started with just simple flat colors that we thought would work,” Halard says. Then they enlisted the help of a recent art school graduate, Hope Hanni, to finalize the paintings. The collection features florals that call to mind thatched country cottages, stripes that reveal themselves to be rows of leafy vines; the colors (dusty rose, sage green) look as though the fabrics have spent years sunbathing.
The next collection is already underway, with textiles suitable for a variety of other locales—because, as Brooks puts it, “it’s not all about living in the Cotswolds.” And as it turns out, it’s not all about outdoor living, either. The fabric covers Halard’s napping couch, where the dogs and cats also settle in. “The need to fit our quite muddy life was pretty important,” says Brooks. Yet the fabrics—a blend of recycled and recyclable material—lack the toxic weatherproofing typical of rugged materials.
Six years after they took over the rambling house, Brooks and Halard have seen their home come to life. The garden beyond the kitchen window? “I think I need to add in a little bit of pink,” Brooks says. “Next year this might look good.”
For more information, visit Catswood.