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.
A WRECK REBORN
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.
AN EXPERT EYE
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.