25 Beautiful Homes

A FAMILY AFFAIR

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The mantra ‘ keeping it in the family’ is one that resonates with Swedish-born Barbro Hart and her husband Chris. When it came to downsizing from their London home, they decided to adopt a hands-on approach that saw the entire family pitch in to renovate their new house.

‘We wanted to help out our two girls Alex and Annika, who have since both found properties of their own,’ explains Barbro. ‘So we moved out of southwest London and bought an Edwardian end-of-terrace that needed plenty of attention in the southeast of the city. But even though this property is smaller than the last, it feels much bigger, thanks to plenty of ingenious tweaks.’

Fortunatel­y, Barbro and Chris are seasoned renovators, having reworked four homes before this one, and their daughters have clearly inherited those skills. The eldest, Alex, was responsibl­e for the interior, as

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When Sophie Johnstone and her husband Gavin took a call from their estate agent to say he thought their ideal house had just come onto the market, they went to view it with cautious optimism. ‘After months of searching, we had almost given up hope,’ Sophie explains, ‘ but once we got inside and saw all its wonderful features, neither of us wanted to leave.’

Nestled in a picture-perfect village in the heart of the Cotswolds, this elegant 18th-century farmhouse offered plenty of space for the couple and their sons Nat, 6, and Rafi, 3. Not only that, it fulfilled their criteria: Gavin wanted a period house with original features and Sophie was desperate for a home with large windows and plenty of natural light. The property was in excellent condition, having recently been renovated, but it was crying out for some personalit­y. Both Gavin and Sophie are passionate about interior design and they started redecorati­ng straight away, despite having two young sons in tow.

Dark carpets were ripped out and replaced with light limestone flags and Sophie chose neutral paint shades for the walls. ‘ We wanted the house to feel spacious,’ she explains. ‘Using muted tones makes the rooms feel really fresh and I can inject colour and pattern with rugs and cushions.’

Although the couple brought several pieces of furniture with them from their previous home, they needed to furnish bigger rooms here, so they gradually began frequentin­g local auctions. ‘Since then, it’s become quite an obsession,’ laughs Sophie.

The result is a home with a striking blend of traditiona­l architectu­re and bright colours, inspired by the work of interior designer Kit Kemp. ‘When I told a friend I was going to use orange in my drawing room, her face said it all,’ recalls Sophie. ‘Luckily it worked really well. We are so happy we were bold enough to go with the colours that appealed to us.’

Three years on, the Johnstones are very settled in their beautiful home. ‘A home is never truly finished,’ says Sophie. ‘But right now we have a place we love – somewhere we can create our own wonderful memories.’

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