Lily Allen’s country house, hidden away down a deliciously long drive in the depths of the English Cotswolds, is the sort of place Mrs. Tiggy-winkle might have lived. The ancient front door, reached through a charming cobbled courtyard dripping with white hydrangeas, has the date 1660 carved in stone above it. The only indication that this is home to a 29-year-old singer-songwriter rather than a fictional hedgehog is a welcome mat that reads Chanel. “I begged them for it,” says Lily, who has a long-standing relationship with the house.
Today, on a brief hiatus from promoting her third album, Sheezus, the songbird is spending a few days with her daughters, ages two and a half and eighteen months. Her look consists of a textured pale-pink hoodie from Pleats Please, a darker pink tee by Isabel Marant, skinny jeans from MiH, and a pair of golden Nike Air Max sneakers. (“Limited edition—I bought six pairs,” she says.) Her dark hair has a mélange of pink, purple, and fuchsia streaks through it, and her nails are Rihanna-long and painted in a neon ombré design.
The ombré theme extends to the children. The older girl appears, dressed in a multicolored baby-djellaba-type garment. “Shall we go and pick some flowers?” asks Lily, gathering a basket and secateurs in one hand, child in the other. She has her old friend Damien Hirst coming for dinner tomorrow night and wants to make a beautiful arrangement for the table.
On their land, Lily and husband Sam Cooper (who has a successful construction business) have created an English-cottage garden fantasy. There are meadows strewn with wildflowers, dells dotted with daisies, rose gardens, and endless picnic spots by streams or ponds, and as Lily picks armfuls of red poppies and dark pink mallow, she talks about her style. Although she will often put in a chic turn for the red carpet in Vivienne Westwood or Chanel couture, she is, at heart, “a magpie. I was always into naff logos from the eighties—very lary Moschino, leopard-print jeans. I loved a label—I didn’t care if it was real or fake. Now I find real gems—by which I mean things that are cheap—in the flea markets.”
Back inside the house, Lily gives me a tour. The rooms have been given nicknames—the best guest bedroom, with beautiful vintage curtains and a crewelwork bedspread, is Claridges; the Gellybub, Lily says, is a gentleman’s room and is stacked with guitars, comfy armchairs, and shelves full of vinyl. The walls of the Big Room—a double-height sitting room—are densely packed with photographs, drawings, a huge cutout of Lily as a Simpsons character, and various religious icons, which Lily collects. Her study, a cozy room with a tiny sofa and desk, is where she keeps her real treasures—sketches of her by Karl Lagerfeld and Celia Birtwell, and three framed gold discs.
Somehow the day has slipped away, and Lily has still not quite got around to her flower arrangement. “Come back for supper?” she says. “I’m cooking.”
When I return a couple of hours later, Lily is arranging a huge bunch of blooms in a giant cream-colored earthenware jug. Somehow she also manages to simultaneously pour champagne for her guests, roast two chickens, make delicious fresh salads, and entertain the group with her tales from the road. As we eat, the late summer sun sets through a tiny round window facing west, a rash of reds, golds, and oranges. “The light! Look at the light here!” sighs one guest rapturously. “It’s perfect.” Indeed it is perfect for Lily Allen. It’s ombré.