ES­SEX FARM­HOUSE

Sam ma­clean has cre­ated an el­e­gant in­te­rior in her idyl­lic weath­er­board farm­house, and it's the per­fect Set­ting for a fam­ily christ­mas

Country Homes & Interiors - - CONTENTS -

This cosy, beamed farm­house is the ideal set­ting for a tra­di­tional fam­ily Christ­mas

Christ­mas Day

is Sam Ma­clean’s birth­day so, not sur­pris­ingly, for her it’s the big­gest day of the year. And the quaint weath­er­board farm­house, sit­u­ated in six acres of land­scaped gar­dens and rolling mead­ows that she lives in with hus­band Rob and their twins Wil­liam and Al­bert, is the per­fect lo­ca­tion for fes­tive cel­e­bra­tions. The house’s beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings were also the cat­a­lyst for the fam­ily’s wed­ding venue busi­ness.

Sam’s par­ents bought the char­ac­ter­ful weath­er­board farm­house, along with a di­lap­i­dated barn and grounds, in 2004. When Sam and Rob were mar­ried in 2010, they had their re­cep­tion in a mar­quee in the gar­den and it sparked the idea for us­ing the barn and grounds as a wed­ding venue. How­ever, it took an­other five years for the plans to come to fruition as they had to ob­tain plan­ning per­mis­sion to ren­o­vate the barn and get per­mis­sion to have a mar­quee on site.

Sam and Rob de­cided to move and live in the farm­house in 2015 when the wed­dings be­gan. ‘We were go­ing to be leav­ing our Lon­don jobs and be in­volved in run­ning the busi­ness so it made sense to move here,’ says Sam.

The house hadn’t been touched since the Sev­en­ties. ‘The decor didn’t suit the house,’ says Sam, so she and Rob de­cided to ren­o­vate it and dec­o­rate it in a style that was more in keep­ing

with the age of the house. ‘We took ev­ery­thing back to ba­sics,’ says Sam. The beams through­out the house were sand­blasted to re­store them to their orig­i­nal colour. The kitchen was then ripped out and, to cre­ate a more open-plan kitchen-diner feel, the wall was knocked through and the beams in it were ex­posed to make a fea­ture of them. ‘The Aga was al­ready in place in the kitchen, so we built grey coun­try-style cab­i­nets with wooden work­tops around it.’

The cou­ple dis­cov­ered that the house was lit­er­ally built on mud, so new floor­ing had to be put down in some of the rooms. The floor­boards in the liv­ing room, for in­stance, were rot­ten and couldn’t be saved, but up­stairs, when the car­pets were pulled up, an­cient wide wooden floor­boards were re­vealed. ‘The floor­boards in the guest room are part of the orig­i­nal 1450s house. They were black when we un­cov­ered them so we had them re­stored and taken back to their orig­i­nal colour.’

The fam­ily bath­room was an­other ma­jor project as Sam and Rob wanted to make the room more spa­cious. Orig­i­nally it was the main bed­room’s en suite with a sep­a­rate loo next door, so the wall in be­tween was re­moved to cre­ate one large space, and tongue-and-groove pan­elling and a roll-top bath were added to give it a clas­sic pe­riod feel.

When de­cid­ing how the in­te­rior should look, Sam was keen to re­spect the age of the house and so opted for calm­ing colours. ‘The liv­ing room and hall are Ge­or­gian, so I used pale blue

and grey paints that were ap­pro­pri­ate to that era. Through­out the rest of the house I chose shades that wouldn’t de­tract from the pe­riod fea­tures, such as the roof beams and the fire­places. The colour choice was vi­tally im­por­tant as it helps make it feel calm and re­laxed.’

Sam has in­cor­po­rated many trea­sured finds into the scheme. ‘Your home is made up of the things you love, pieces that you’ve in­her­ited so you have a fam­ily mem­ory, have been given as gifts so they re­mind you of a per­son, or that you found on a week­end away or hol­i­day and that bring back me­mories of that trip. It’s all part of what makes your house your home.’

The work on the house was com­pleted just be­fore Christ­mas 2015 so this time of year is full of many happy rec­ol­lec­tions. ‘This year will be ex­tra spe­cial be­cause it will be the boys’ first Christ­mas. I love the house at this time of year any­way. It’s so cosy in the win­ter the open fire and Aga make it feel Christ­massy. I en­joy putting up Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions and it’s an ex­cuse to go to town with the house. I like to add in pops of red and the neu­tral back­drop works well with this. We re­ally en­joy the fes­tive sea­son as it’s a qui­eter time of year for the busi­ness and a pe­riod when we get to be at home and en­joy it.

‘I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to bring­ing the boys up here as we have so much land and wildlife. We hope it will be a won­der­ful place for them to grow up.’

Din­ing area A red dresser adds a punch of fes­tive colour.Dresser, sim­i­lar at Ikea.Table, chairs, all An­gela Reed.Pen­dant lights, Jim Lawrence.

Gin­ger­bread house, sim­i­lar at notrunofthemill.com.

The lake in the grounds makes the per­fect back­drop for wed­ding pho­tos.

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