A WORK OF ART

In­spired by the Arts and Crafts move­ment, one cou­ple have sur­pris­ingly cho­sen the highly dec­o­ra­tive style to ren­o­vate a Ge­or­gian farm­house

Country Living (UK) - - Contents - words and styling by alex lewis pho­to­graphs by penny win­cer

In­spired by Arts and Crafts, one cou­ple have used the dec­o­ra­tive style to ren­o­vate their Ge­or­gian farm­house

Set back from the road in the heart of a Northamp­ton­shire vil­lage, the golden stone of Tews Farm looks warm and wel­com­ing even on the raini­est of days. Look­ing for a larger prop­erty to com­bine two fam­i­lies, artist Jacque­line Rappaport and her hus­band Danny had to fight to se­cure this 400-year-old farm­house. “I had seen it go on and off the mar­ket but we kept be­ing pipped at the post,” Jacque­line re­calls. “So when I spot­ted that it was for sale again, we zoomed straight in to se­cure it.” The pre­vi­ous own­ers had been in­hab­it­ing only a small part of the house and it had an unloved feel. “It sounds rather clichéd, but as soon as I walked through the door, I felt ex­cited,” she says. “There were stair­cases every­where and it just needed a big fam­ily run­ning up and down to bring some life back into it.”

As the cou­ple un­der­took an ex­ten­sive re­dec­o­ra­tion pro­gramme, they re­alised that the kitchen would re­quire the most work. The in­glenook fire­place with dou­ble bread ovens re­mained the fo­cus of the room, while the Aga now adds to the rus­tic ef­fect. New cab­i­nets de­signed and painted by Jacque­line were made by a lo­cal join­ery. All the fur­ni­ture has been cho­sen be­cause of its qual­ity and pro­por­tions, in keep­ing with the Arts and Crafts phi­los­o­phy of the 19th and 20th cen­turies. This in­cludes an oak gate-leg ta­ble found in poor con­di­tion in an an­tiques shop and buffed to a high sheen, and the vin­tage bent­wood Thonet chairs that sur­round it.

In the liv­ing room, Jacque­line has painted the walls white and ex­posed the orig­i­nal flag­stone floor to cre­ate a calm at­mos­phere. The west-fac­ing rooms to the rear of the house, how­ever, re­ceive much cooler light, so a sense of cosi­ness has been evoked by us­ing strong, dark colours such as Hague Blue by Far­row & Ball.

Thir­teen years on and their chil­dren (Isaac, 14, and Char­lie, 11) have grown up here, while the older ones, Tom and Nathalie, have moved on to jobs and uni­ver­sity, but the fam­ily have all wit­nessed

the in­spir­ing dec­o­rat­ing trans­for­ma­tions. “The din­ing room was orig­i­nally a 1980s time warp of Laura Ash­ley dark blue and cream wall­pa­per,” Jacque­line re­mem­bers. “Ini­tially, want­ing to make my mark, I stripped it off and painted the wall duck egg blue, but it wasn’t un­til af­ter I had in­tro­duced the Wil­liam Mor­ris Brer Rab­bit wall­pa­per into the room years later that I re­alised the scheme had come full cir­cle back to dark blue and cream.” Through­out the house, a num­ber of rooms fea­ture pat­terned wall­pa­per, printed fab­rics and tex­tured ce­ram­ics but, de­spite this rich­ness and lay­er­ing, the ef­fect isn’t over­pow­er­ing thanks to care­ful edit­ing and the fact that spa­ces have been kept rea­son­ably pared back.

The gen­er­ous pro­por­tions have al­lowed Jacque­line and Danny to ex­plore their love of Arts and Crafts de­sign and dis­play their ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of mid-20th-cen­tury ce­ram­ics. Cor­nish pots from Troika, Leach and New­lyn hap­pily sit next to their Euro­pean coun­ter­parts from Royal Copen­hagen and Bisotti. Tex­tures and colours bounce off each other, of­ten against a back­drop of Wil­liam Mor­ris wall­pa­per. The largest col­lec­tion of ce­ram­ics is housed in the bath­room. “It’s ac­tu­ally an ex­cel­lent place to show­case them,” Jacque­line says. “When you’re ly­ing back in a hot bath, you can re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty of each piece, which is much bet­ter than hav­ing them tucked away in a cabi­net.”

Both Jacque­line’s and Danny’s moth­ers col­lected Cor­nish ce­ram­ics, which gave the cou­ple a head start: “We are con­stant col­lec­tors, al­ways on the look­out for the next piece that catches our eye.” But it is not just ce­ram­ics that Jacque­line searches for. The cush­ions and cur­tains have been made from linens and fab­rics found in char­ity shops and on ebay. “I am al­ways thrilled to come across an old pair of Mor­ris or Lib­erty cur­tains on a heavy linen weave,” Jacque­line says. The most im­pres­sive find has to be a Dante Gabriel Ros­setti chair de­signed for

Mor­ris & Co, which the cou­ple dis­cov­ered in a lo­cal an­tiques shop. It now sits next to the fire­place with a Mor­ris Straw­berry Thief printed cush­ion. It wasn’t un­til their first visit to Black­well, an Arts and Crafts house in the Lake Dis­trict, where they saw an­other ex­am­ple of ‘their chair’, that they re­alised how spe­cial it was. “I left feel­ing in­spired by the shapes, colours and tex­tures of the place and de­vel­oped a real love of the Arts and Crafts move­ment,” Jacque­line says.

Two years ago, Tews Farm opened its doors as a B&B, so guests can now share the cou­ple’s collections and en­joy break­fast in the din­ing room sur­rounded by such dec­o­ra­tive inspiration. “The ta­ble in there was a bit of an ebay gam­ble, as there was only one small photograph of it, and it came with what was de­scribed as ‘eight free chairs’,” Jacque­line ex­plains. “What turned up was a beau­ti­fully built, solid oak ta­ble that was so big it had to come in through the win­dow! The eight rush-seated carver chairs wouldn’t fit un­der the ta­ble, but a sim­ple pur­chase of some ball feet for the ta­ble legs to raise it solved that prob­lem.”

As well as paint­ing wa­ter­colours, Jacque­line has re­cently opened her own lit­tle pot­tery stu­dio: “I en­joy the im­me­di­acy of throw­ing on the wheel. I’m not in­ter­ested in the quest for per­fec­tion, more the tex­ture, glaze and feel of a piece.” So it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore more space is go­ing to be re­quired on the bath­room shelves for her own ‘in-house’ ce­ram­ics…

For more in­for­ma­tion about Tews Farm B&B, call 07903 717247. To en­quire about Jacque­line’s paint­ings and pot­tery, visit hag­stone.co.uk. See her work on our Emporium pages.

A Wil­liam Mor­ris Straw­berry Thief print used for the cush­ions and a Ros­setti chair are both clas­sic ex­am­ples of Arts and Crafts de­sign, a move­ment that val­ued tra­di­tional skills and crafts­man­ship – per­fect for a mod­ern farm­house

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