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

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