OLIVIA FIELDHOUSE CHOSE RICH, DRAMATIC COLOURS TO GIVE HER PERIOD COTTAGE A MODERN COUNTRY TWIST
Dramatic colour and favourite pieces of art give a period property country appeal
Olivia Fieldhouse was brought up in a remote part of the countryside, so when she met her husband, Simon, and they looked for a first home in Gloucestershire, it was important to her that it was in an idyllic, secluded spot. ‘This rambling property appealed to us, especially as it is surrounded by organic farmland.’ It was once two farmworkers’ cottages, and had the potential for further expansion, another vital factor as Olivia was expecting their eldest son, Inigo.
‘Getting permission for plans to add a kitchen-diner, two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and a shower room took two years and went to appeal but it was worth fighting for,’ says Olivia. ‘Although it was cosy when we moved in, it became quite a squash after our second baby Monty was born and when we had guests.’
As the family moved out to allow the builders in, Olivia began to collect ideas. ‘I needed to do the research, especially as the world of interiors was new to me.’ Fortunately one of Olivia’s friends, interior designer Honor Hebblethwaite from Melissa Wyndham, helped out, poring over architects’ plans with Olivia and Simon. ‘She also advised me with the design and location of built-in fittings,’ says Olivia, ‘and in finding a good-quality joiner.’
Olivia soon realised she preferred darker, richer colours, which she knew could be difficult to get right. ‘I instinctively felt I
needed some professional help.’ She turned to Jane Peckitt, a colour consultant at Bailey Paints. ‘She kept me on track and set out a colour plan for each room, picking the right neutral shades for walls to contrast with the dramatic tones I had gone for, especially for the kitchen. I’d already chosen the fabrics, because it is much easier to find these first and then match the paint colours.
‘I have always liked the contrast of light and dark – so I have combined pale walls with some rich darker greys. I also love shades of blue.’ Extra pops of vibrant tones were added with paintings, which family members have given Olivia – presents from her brother, Rupert, and sister-in-law, artist Annie Shrive. They were also inspiration for her colour schemes, and as Olivia says, ‘Paintings give a home a soul and personality.’
Olivia’s passion for vibrant colour and variations on blue and white is almost as intense as her eye for detail, reflected in her careful research. She tracked down exactly the right fireplace on Pinterest, to be copied by a local masonry company and the perfect brass handles for the kitchen to match the antique-brass sink taps. Her boys, in contrast to her pursuit of ordered calm, love to kick a ball about and generally make a mess so the snug has been given over to them – until their bedtime at least.
It is easy to see how well the house works for everyone, with a football pitch, where the boys can let off steam, within a copse of oaks, maples and ash next to an organic farm, which was Olivia’s dream. ‘This place is truly relaxing and we all love it.’
Hallway The doorway through to the living room is framed by the original exposed stonework.
House Staddle stones mark the doorway to the former farmworkers’ property.
Bathroom A black and white Tiger linocut print, by Annie Shrive, puts a finishing touch to tongue-andgroove panelling in the bathroom. Basin, Lefroy Brooks.
Main bedroom The colours are serene, inspired by Olivia’s choice of fabric. The painting is by Olivia’s brother Rupert Shrive. Curtain and cushion fabric, Bukhara Tea Rose, Lewis & Wood.Wall, painted in Normandy Grey by Little Greene.