Collectors’ choice Treasures packed with memories add personality to a rented home
An eclectic mix of styles, and treasures packed with memories, have added personality to this rented home
When Michael Beatt and Michael Jones decided they wanted to leave London, a tiny cottage in Rye, East Sussex, turned out to be the perfect place to move to. The Cinque Port town sits on the edge of Romney Marsh, a few miles inland from the sea, and its cobbled streets are filled with independent shops, antiques dealers and art galleries. It seemed the ideal spot for the couple to expand their vintage homeware business, Hunter Jones.
Michael Jones was working in product development and
Michael Beatt, known as Mikey, in sales, and they were renting a flat in the capital when they decided to devote more time to their fledgling business. ‘We knew that if we could halve our rent by moving to the countryside, then we would have more freedom to put our energies into our company,’ says Mikey. They began to hunt for an ideal area to relocate to. ‘A friend had moved to Hastings and we considered that area, but then we were driving through the town of Rye one day and just thought, “We can’t do any better than this”,’ he says.
And so began their search for the perfect rental property. ‘There wasn’t a great deal available for rent but then we were told about one house in the old town. I loved it straight away. It was the attic bedroom that sold it to me because it’s just gorgeous, tucked away in the eaves,’ says Michael. They signed on the dotted line and, in October 2010, left London for Rye.
Luckily for the couple, their landlord allows them free rein when it comes to decoration. As a result, they’ve used vibrant colours throughout the house and replaced the kitchen. ‘We weren’t sure about spending money on the kitchen in a rented property, but it was so old that we decided it was worth it,’ says Michael. ‘We spent about £1,000 in the end.’ Gone are the dated units and in their place are
pale Wickes cabinets with a dark-stained worktop and open shelving. In the rest of the house, colourful rugs and cushions, jewel-toned upholstered furniture and a phenomenal collection of knick-knacks and art work all come together to create a fun, unique look.
‘Michael likes big pieces of furniture and I’m into the details,’ says Mikey. ‘I become obsessed with certain objects. So, for a few weeks I’ll be fixated on finding the perfect candlesticks, and then
I’ll move on to something else. It can be quite specific, like 1970s Wedgwood glass or Victorian mantle dogs.’
Michael and Mikey try to steer clear of what’s in fashion, preferring to be led by their hearts. ‘Both of us are drawn to ethnic pieces, such as Persian and Moroccan accessories. If we like something, we just go for it and then make it work – we don’t think about it too much. We don’t follow any style rules – we just fill our home with the things we love,’ says Michael. Mikey agrees. ‘We go
for lots of different looks. Sometimes I think I need a 600-bedroom property to indulge them all! I’d much rather someone thought our house was interesting than really stylish or on trend,’ he says.
Life in Rye has more than lived up to expectations for both Mikey and Michael. ‘After London, the Sussex countryside around us feels more natural,’ says Michael. ‘We both grew up surrounded by greenery, so this feels like coming home.’
What’s more, they’ve been able to put more of their time into the business, and their homewares have gone down a storm in the area. ‘It’s easy for anyone to have a nice house,’ says Michael, ‘but unless you trust your instincts, you won’t make it your home.’
CAREFULLY CURATED A careful selection of art and mirrors hangs above the sofa. Paisley cushion by Rowan Plowden Design. The Persian rug (on back of sofa) is from Hunter Jones ON THE SHELF The couple found most of the objects on display at car boot sales, including the ancient gilded angel wing and the bamboo chair, which Mikey updated with red paint
COLOURFUL CORNER Old and new mix to stunning effect, with a 1920s bamboo table, antique paintings and a modern lampshade from Pooky
‘I’d much rather someone thought our house was interesting than really stylish and on trend,’ SAYS MIKEY
ATTIC BEDROOM Bed linen is from Merchant & Mills. The print of
Henry VIII in a gilt frame was bought from a friend and the fan coral came from a trip to Santorini
BATHROOM Wooden cladding painted in a dark grey shade provides a smart contrast to the white suite and walls