Let it glow
Layers of decoration and rich textures evoke a festive feel in Jane and Richard Ashton’s 17th-century farmhouse
The hallway of Jane Ashton’s farmhouse is well and truly decked – not only with tumbles of vibrant paper decorations, trailing ivy and glowing fairy lights, but also with the array of intriguing curios that add atmosphere to her home every day of the year. ‘A home is all about layers – layers of the past and of your own decorative style,’ Jane explains. ‘ For me, Christmas is just an opportunity to add some extra sparkle on top of that.’
Jane is a self- confessed romantic, and this house she shares with her husband, Richard, is the perfect place to play out her imaginative interior design ideas. ‘ I’ve always loved period properties,’ she says. ‘ They already come with a sense of a story.’ From the start, this farmhouse dating from the
17th century felt right for them. ‘ We really liked the proportions of the rooms,’ she says. ‘ It felt like an elegant house, yet without the space being vast or overwhelming. They still felt as if they could be warm and homely.’ The couple also liked that the house hadn’t been ‘messed about with or modernised’, which would have robbed it of its features. ‘ When I decorate, I start by stripping things back and le! ing the house breathe. Then the essence and the history of the house starts to come through,’ Jane explains.
They did make one small alteration – adding a modest extension to the kitchen to add a dining area. ‘ The house is Grade II-listed, but it was agreed that the original kitchen was too small for the size of the house,’ Jane says. As she points out, houses rarely remain frozen in time. ‘ This building began life as a hall house and was added to in the Victorian and Georgian eras. Houses are constantly evolving, but my decorating style endeavours to marry old and new.’
While antiques and vintage "nds are central to Jane’s decor, she also likes to mix pieces from di #erent eras. ‘ I’m not a stickler for staying true to a particular period – that seems too rigid for me. It would feel like living in a museum,’ she says. Instead, lighting, side tables and artworks that are very much rooted in the here and now are displayed alongside Edwardian and Victorian furniture, and vintage rugs from north Africa. ‘ There’s a patina to antiques that means they remain constantly
alluring, but I also love spo! ing new trends and working them into my style,’ Jane says.
Old-but-not- antique crystal chandeliers, reupholstered vintage chairs and ceramics inspired by 1960s designs all get a look-in, while paint colours dip into dark, evocative blues that also feel contemporary. Jane occasionally opens her home for design workshops and she enjoys seeing how visitors respond to her style. ‘ I love it when someone’s gaze travels around a room, trying to take it all in,’ she says.
Christmastime visitors to Jane and Richard’s home are guaranteed the best sort of surprises. ‘ We usually host a family celebration for 10 to 12 and I start thinking about the decorative scheme long in advance, o"en using a mood board,’ says Jane. ‘ My approach is to enhance the house rather than cover every surface in decorations. I work with the decor. In the kitchen I use copper tones to match the lights.’ Vintage glasses are her weakness. ‘ I have lots stashed away,’ she says. ‘ But this is the perfect time to use them.’
Lengths of hessian bought on eBay cover the dining room table, working as a rustic backdrop to more luxe tableware. Jane mixes her parents’ old Royal Doulton Carlyle set with Villeroy & Boch porcelain. The crystal chandeliers were bought at Lots Road Auctions. The print is a Beth Fraser and Anna Hayman collaboration from Rockett St George.
The Owners Jane Ashton, an interior designer and stylist, who specialises in period homes (janeashton.com), and her husband, Richard, CEO of a financial company.
The Property A five-bedroom Grade II-listed 17th-century farmhouse in Hertfordshire. On the ground floor there is a kitchen-diner and snug, dining room, sitting room, study and cloakroom.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP The drinks trolley is from Lots Road Auctions and the vintage champagne saucers were an eBay find; the snug is papered in Great Ormond St wallpaper by Little Greene; the back wall of the hallway features trompe l’oeil Library wallpaper from Andrew Martin. LEFT Asian fabric and a vintage Moroccan rug add warmth to the living room.
ABOVE Jane decks her entrance hall and staircase in flamboyant style, with honeycomb decorations bringing out the reds of a vintage rug bought in Marrakesh and an armchair, which is a family hand-medown that Jane had reupholstered in a bright suede.