The own­ers of this Ja­cobean prop­erty peeled away years of in­sen­si­tive ren­o­va­tions and used a light touch to cre­ate a sim­ple and beau­ti­ful home


Peel­ing away years of in­sen­si­tive ren­o­va­tions from this Ja­cobean prop­erty has cre­ated a sim­ple, beau­ti­ful home.

In­te­rior designer Monique Beau­val-nash and her ar­chi­tect hus­band of­ten col­lab­o­rate on de­sign projects, but their own home, a re­stored Ja­cobean farm­house near the Su≠olk coast, is surely their great­est achieve­ment.


Hav­ing lived nearby, the cou­ple had known of the house for a while be­fore they bought it, and it was the per­fect chal­lenge for an ar­chi­tec­turally driven pair. Af­ter sev­eral in­sen­si­tive ren­o­va­tions and years of ne­glect it was, Monique de­clares, “a wreck”, com­plete with death­watch bee­tle, rats, jack­daws in the chim­ney and a nest of grass snakes. Un­per­turbed, they had the house cleaned and the in­te­ri­ors re­painted, liv­ing in it for three years be­fore un­der­tak­ing any ma­jor work, so that they could get a bet­ter sense of the de­sign that was re­quired.

The work took a fur­ther three years, dur­ing which time Monique and her hus­band took up res­i­dence in the con­verted cow­shed. Their main fo­cus was to re­store the farm­house to its former glory, mod­ernise it and im­prove the flow be­tween rooms, par­tic­u­larly on the ground floor. The re­place­ment of the once dark, small kitchen with a con­tem­po­rary scheme in­clud­ing a din­ing area in an ex­ten­sion open­ing on to the gar­den was a par­tic­u­lar tri­umph. This con­nec­tion with the out­doors is a re­cur­ring theme: French doors now open out on all sides of the house. “I think ev­ery room on the ground floor should re­late to the gar­den,” says Monique.


Ed­u­cated in Paris, Monique ap­proaches in­te­rior de­sign from an ar­chi­tec­tural per­spec­tive, so dec­o­ra­tion is re­strained and

so­phis­ti­cated, with pale grey walls through­out and sim­ple, ele­gant fur­ni­ture, much of which is sur­pris­ingly mod­est. “I of­ten work on very ex­pen­sive projects,” she says, “but you can cre­ate an in­te­rior with­out spending too much money; you just have to have an eye. We in­vested most of the money in the build­ing it­self, which has to be strong and beau­ti­ful, and then we fur­nished it with in­ex­pen­sive fur­ni­ture.”

In fact, the cou­ple put so much into the build­ing that they sold their Lon­don base in Hol­land Park to pay for it. How­ever, both still travel to Lon­don reg­u­larly for work. “Now, we sleep on our chil­dren’s so­fas,” Monique laughs. The cou­ple re­turn the favour by hav­ing their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to stay at week­ends in Su≠olk, where their loft space, now a stylish two-bed­room apart­ment com­plete with roof ter­race, makes won­der­ful guest quar­ters.


When they have the house to them­selves, Monique and her hus­band tend to spend much of their time work­ing. If Monique does take a break, she es­capes to the gar­den, which she had com­pletely re­designed and re­planted, se­lect­ing a sim­i­larly pared-back pal­ette to that of the house. “I en­joy gar­den­ing; it’s how I re­lax and get away from it all,” she says. “The colours in my gar­den are mostly white, al­though I’ll ac­cept a lit­tle blue here and there.”

With its brick ter­races and lawns, the gar­den is also the per­fect set­ting for large gath­er­ings, such as the one Monique hosted re­cently for the Franco Bri­tish Union of Ar­chi­tects, of which her hus­band is trea­surer. “We had a re­cep­tion and din­ner for seventy-four peo­ple,” says Monique. “I did quite a lot of gar­den­ing in prepa­ra­tion.”

BOOT ROOM As a nod to the build­ing’s roots as a work­ing farm­house, the own­ers have re­tained this orig­i­nal wa­ter pump (above). Hats and scarves are hung on a lad­der from Por­to­bello Road mar­ket, where Monique had a stall when she moved to Lon­don in...

MAIN BATH­ROOM This scheme (bot­tom) is typ­i­cal of Monique’s clas­s­ic­con­tem­po­rary style, with a be­spoke van­ity unit and a Clear­wa­ter free­stand­ing bath.

MAIN BED­ROOM “I don’t like to put wardrobes in corners of bed­rooms; I think it looks ugly,” says Monique. In­stead, she de­signed a unit (be­low) that dou­bles as a bed­head, and forms a cor­ri­dor into the bath­room.

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