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
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