Nat­u­ral touch

As Christ­mas ap­proaches, Lucy Marsh loves to em­bel­lish her home in swathes of for­aged fo­liage and rus­tic or­na­ments


Rus­tic dec­o­ra­tions and for­aged fo­liage adorn this Hamp­shire pe­riod prop­erty as the own­ers turn to the great out­doors for their Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions

Em­brac­ing the fes­tive sea­son comes easy to Lucy Marsh, so when De­cem­ber rolls around, she can be found adorn­ing her fam­ily home with for­aged fo­liage, twin­kling lights and rus­tic dec­o­ra­tions. ‘I like to use nat­u­ral el­e­ments – pine cones, dried or­ange slices and cin­na­mon sticks, which I dis­play in storm lanterns,’ she says. ‘I also love wrap­ping can­dles in birch bark for a Nordic feel.’

Orig­i­nally a par­son­age, this en­chant­ing prop­erty dates from the 1800s and in­cludes dec­o­ra­tive Arts and Crafts fea­tures. Now it is home to Lucy, her hus­band Jim, their two sons, Al­fie, eight, Bar­ney, seven, and their dog, Em­ber.

When the cou­ple first viewed the prop­erty, they fell in love with it, de­spite its di­lap­i­dated con­di­tion. An­cient electrics and plumb­ing, rot­ten floors and a col­lapsed ceil­ing ren­dered it un­safe for them to move in. Luck­ily, they were able to rent lo­cally dur­ing the ren­o­va­tion. ‘ We had just six months to com­plete the work, as we had a short rental con­tract,’ re­calls Lucy. ‘To en­cour­age my con­trac­tor to work faster, I’d bring him home-made brown­ies along with the paint sched­ules.’

The prop­erty’s Grade ll list­ing meant the cou­ple had to en­sure the ren­o­va­tion met with reg­u­la­tions. ‘It was only when I showed that I was able to push a pen through the rot­ten win­dow frames, that the plan­ners al­lowed me to re­place them,’ says Lucy, who man­aged the ren­o­va­tion project her­self. The new win­dows had to be hand made, us­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods and ma­te­ri­als. ‘Luck­ily, be­ing an in­te­rior de­signer, I have a net­work of trusted

FAVOURITE ROOM ‘I love the din­ing room as I feel this par­tic­u­lar part of a house al­ways ben­e­fits from hav­ing a bold colour or dra­matic state­ment wall­pa­per’

crafts­men who were able to take on the work,’ says Lucy. Her team fit­ted new in­su­la­tion, plumb­ing and electrics to meet with mod­ern stan­dards, while metic­u­lously pre­serv­ing the build­ing’s orig­i­nal fea­tures.

When de­sign­ing the room schemes, Lucy treated her fam­ily as she would a client, pre­sent­ing them with sketches and sam­ple boards. ‘I wanted it to be their house, not a show­piece for my work,’ she says.

Lucy used soft neu­tral shades on the walls, ceil­ings and wood­work to cre­ate a uni­fied feel through­out the prop­erty. Her favourite wall­pa­per in the din­ing room, a homage to her hus­band’s love of Ori­en­tal de­sign, is teamed with fam­ily heir­looms and silk cur­tains to cre­ate a sense of drama. ‘This is the per­fect space for host­ing our fam­ily lunch on Christ­mas Eve,’ she says. ‘I fill it with el­e­gant glass­ware, charg­ers and storm lanterns filled with-mir­rored dec­o­ra­tions. I also bring in some fes­tive fra­grance us­ing scented can­dles and oil dif­fusers.’

Up­stairs, Lucy has added more vis­ual in­ter­est with eye-catch­ing wall­pa­pers and tex­tiles. ‘I love it when a door is open and you catch a glimpse of pat­tern,’ she says. The decor also re­flects the house’s ru­ral set­ting as it fea­tures wood and stone floor­ing soft­ened by tra­di­tional flo­ral-print tex­tiles and whim­si­cal wall­pa­pers, which com­ple­ment the prop­erty’s his­tor­i­cal roots.

‘I find the house be­comes en­tic­ingly mag­i­cal at this time of year,’ says Lucy. ‘After such a huge ren­o­va­tion process, to be able to en­joy host­ing a fam­ily Christ­mas here is es­pe­cially won­der­ful.’

LES­SON LEARNT ‘Spend your money wisely; most of our ren­o­va­tion bud­get was spent on fun­da­men­tals such as electrics, plumb­ing and floor­ing’

Din­ing Room ‘i dress the fes­tive table with sprigs of holly, eu­ca­lyp­tus and sil­ver-sprayed twigs,’ says Lucy. Herons wall­pa­per, £85 a roll, GP& J Baker. Belleville chan­de­lier, £2,790, Vaughan. Union mir­ror, £507, Robert Lang­ford. Cur­tains made in Lucerne silk, £55m, Cole­fax and Fowler

sit­ting Room ‘i love to hang glass baubles, beaded stars and knit­ted fig­ures on the tree – all in a tra­di­tional pal­ette of white, gold, sil­ver and red,’ says Lucy. Sig­na­ture foot­stool, from £1,940, Ge­orge Smith. Runes mir­ror, £1,716, Porta Ro­mana

Kitchen the neu­tral scheme lets the wood beams be­come a fo­cal point. Be­spoke units in Cash­mir, price on re­quest, Anthony Downes. Curved top stool in Char­coal, £195, Cox & Cox. Blind made in Tre­gony Indigo, £139m, GP& J Baker

ex­te­rior A pretty wreath on the door adds a ru­ral touch and gives a fes­tive wel­come. Be­spoke wreath, from a se­lec­tion, Susie Babing­ton

main Bed­room em­broi­dered silks with flo­ral and ori­en­tal prints bring a lux­u­ri­ous feel to this el­e­gant, rest­ful space. Nar­bonne wall light, £648, Vaughan. head­board in Keros, £60m, San­der­son. bed­side ta­bles, £750 each, Christo­pher Clark. be­spoke throw in Per­sian gar­den, £166m, os­borne & Lit­tle

en suite ‘i used a ro­man­tic wall­pa­per in the lobby out­side to add char­ac­ter,’ says Lucy. ori­en­tal tree wall­pa­per, £98 a roll, gp& J baker. blind made in Sari silk, £86.40m, Pierre Frey

Bar­ney’ s Bed­room The sim­ple red, white and blue colour scheme cre­ates a clean, clas­sic look and can eas­ily be up­dated as Bar­ney gets older. Char­ter­house bunk bed in Prus­sian blue, £799, As­pace. bi-plane wall shelf, £68; union Jack rug, £175, both great Lit­tle trad­ing Com­pany. Coloured bunt­ing, from a se­lec­tion, No­ton­the­high­street. com. the birch tree pen­dant shade, £30, Lamp­shade Pa­rade, has a sim­i­lar look to this

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