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.

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