I am so pleased to be writing this from the kitchen table at our new house – which has beautiful views across lots of green farmland and a very cosy feel on the inside. Here we begin renovation project number 3! People always ask us “Is this one the forever house now?” and although I could never commit to such a thing when the world is full of so many houses (and so much opportunity) I cannot imagine wanting to leave this one anytime soon. Paul has not taken off his wellies since we have been here, and I have been thinking of the best place for vegetable patches (when realistically most of our food usually comes from a box in the freezer).
It is a beautiful Edwardian house which was originally two semi-detached cottages but were knocked through by the previous owners. They were originally built as Gardener’s cottages for the Gardeners that looked after the amazing stately home next door. It has been very well taken care of over the years and has such a lovely, homely feel about it and just needs a bit of work from us to put our own stamp and style into it. It makes such a nice change to have working heating, hot water and no holes in the roof – which is what we have previously been used to with our other projects! It was a family home within the same family for a long time before us, so we promised to take very good care of it and create a house to make our own memories (and parties) in.
We have lots of plans for the space, which I can’t wait to share once we have gained the relevant permissions and nailed down all the details. For the interiors, I am planning to use a lot of colour and detail that would typically be found in a house from this era, but of course mixing it with modern essentials and our own personal styles. As with any project I work on I will also be looking to use as many vintage and reclaimed pieces as possible, and will be filling it up with lots of handcrafted goodies from local artisans.
So far, we have uncovered beautiful original floorboards and started relevelling the flooring in what is to become my new office. As lovely as sitting at the kitchen table with the views is – I cannot wait to have a space that is fit for purpose and hold all my samples and equipment all in one place. As you can imagine I have already designed every inch of it and will share all of the progress soon! I’m adding to my mood boards most evenings, and my Pinterest holds a lot of inspirational images from the Edwardian era. A typical interior from this period has wide, bright rooms and simple decorative features, but with lots of emphasis on colour and pattern on the fabrics and wallpapers. Following on from the Victorian era, the Edwardian aesthetic includes a lot of the same features, but also has a big influence from the Art Nouveau period. Lighter materials for furniture were introduced in this era, including wicker and bamboo (which are already staple materials in any JCD project) and I am looking forward to using a mix of these finishes throughout the house.
The best part (especially according to Paul) is the secret outside – that the house comes with its own section of woodland (the whole plot is just under an acre and the woodland makes up about half of this) which has so much potential for us. The idea of eating and socialising under a canopy of trees in our own woods is a dream come true!
Living through and working on house renovations of our own really helps me to understand the needs of my clients when taking on their projects. I like to get involved in all the building detail as well as the finishing touches – and there is nothing like watching a space develop from start to finish. There is so much involved in renovation work, and it is important to get it right first time – not only from a financial and time perspective, but to be able to sit back at the end of all the work and not wish that you had done anything differently. I think it is essential to live (or get as familiar as possible) with a space before any work starts, as you need to know how you want to use it, how the light comes in, how practical things need to be and how you need it to work best for you.
So, with this in mind, I am going to open up a wine and have a wander around imagining all the possibilities (and make our to do list longer and longer….)