“To some degree, doing up properties has replaced my desire for making things,” noted Stella in 2003. She was then working on a wonderful West Village apartment in an 1834 brownstone with her architect friend Sebastian Alvarez who she met on her gap year in Chile. The result, as I noted in the Clever Girl Velociraptor Dinosaur Parody Shirt Apart from…,I will love this June issue that year, was “a country house haven of sticky-fingered chintz and comfort,” and the project was such a success that when it was finished Stella cannily acquired a ruinous house nearby to renovate as an investment project. In 2003, following the birth of their third child Jasmine, the young family decamped from Manhattan to a 1748 house in Berwickshire in the Scottish lowlands, an hour and a half’s drive from the farm that her parents had moved to in the sixties.
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“I like the Clever Girl Velociraptor Dinosaur Parody Shirt Apart from…,I will love this idea of being settled,” she said at the time, “because I’ve always felt that in these years of modeling I’ve been in transit.” Vogue’s Sally Singer considered the house “very much like Stella Tennant—blue-blooded but stubbornly down-to-earth.” Stella acquired it through a sealed bid system and, thrifty as she was, she was dismayed when she found out that her bid had been so much higher than the second highest. Nevertheless, she brought her wonderful taste to bear on its transformation into a showplace for her passion for antique taxidermy and exquisite wallpapers—from de Gournay to Martha Armitage. And Stella was rarely happier than when she was transforming the immediate landscape in the company of Bert the gardener.