Now I am not saying that Avington, Hampshire is to join the ranks of Bruton, Somerset hailed by some as the hippest place in Britain. The new Notting Hill no less, although one is more than enough for me.
One reason that Bruton is the talk of the towns is Hauser & Wirth, an international art gallery housed in a converted dairy owned by the new locals Swiss art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth. The other reason is London restaurateur Catherine Butler who has opened The Chapel, an upmarket restaurant and bakery on the high street. Topped with a congregation of high-profile residents and you have the ingredients to make this Saxon town a smart success.
But back to Avington’s best-kept secret, the newly opened Max Rollitt showroom, which has the most charming address – Yavington Barn, Lovington Lane. This renovated barn is a special space where antique and bespoke pieces are arranged beautifully and given room to breathe.
Max Rollitt is a rare hybrid – interior designer, antiques dealer and furniture maker. He reminds me of dealer-decorator Robert Kime whose shop is also tucked away – a destination or place to be discovered.
‘I couldn't work the way I do if I didn't have a shop. Geoffrey Bennison taught me that you need to be a dealer to be a decorator. It's another interest, cross-fertilization. It's not that I depend on stock, but it does mean that people bring things to me. An entire room could begin with an atmospheric carpet or fabric or object. It feeds something in.’
Yavington Barn is a destination for leading interiors designers and top dealers. It also draws those who just want to buy a few eclectic and eloquent antiques for their home. Max is blessed with a good eye and visitors want to buy into his vision.
If Max Rollitt takes the stress out of decoration, then his wife’s adjoining barn is a retreat that is designed to relieve tension. Jane Watson is a qualified Feldenkrais practitioner and she offers classes and revitalise days in the Yavington studio.
Strikes me, we have the beginnings of a mini and more mindful Bruton.