When Jenny Lilley and her fiancé Mark swapped town living for life in the country, they fell in love with a whole new interiors look.
With its collection of antiques and classic palette, you would expect this Georgian cottage to be the home of a seasoned period property decorator, but that could not be further from the truth. ‘Although I grew up in the countryside,’ says Jenny Lilley, who is a lawyer, ‘my fiancé Mark and I lived in a modern flat in central Winchester before we came here in 2015. We filled that place with contemporary furniture that suited our tastes back then, but since moving here, and embracing a different kind of life, we’ve replaced our modern pieces with furniture from local auctions and antiques fairs like Kempton.’ Jenny did take advice from a period property expert, however. ‘I remember reading an interview with Cabbages & Roses founder Christina Strutt,’ explains Jenny. ‘She advised staying traditional in your colour choices when you have an old home, so I did a lot of research into the shades you would expect to see in a Georgian property – muted tones like dusky greys and various shades of off-whites. I love the way these colours change with the light, so I knew I wanted to use them throughout the house and even on our fences outside!’ But before Jenny and Mark began to decorate, the building needed some attention to ensure it suited their needs. Upstairs an airing cupboard was sacrificed for a more spacious bathroom, and a landing cupboard was combined with what is now a nursery for the couple’s six-month-old son Teddy. Mark also installed a new bathroom, complete with a roll-top bath, and removed old carpets to reveal original floorboards. Sash windows were also fitted throughout the cottage. But is wasn’t all plain sailing as the couple did hit a problem when they discovered a hole in the roof. ‘That wasn’t the best day,’ recalls Jenny, ‘but we had some fantastic tradesmen friends who pitched in to fix it. We don’t know what we would have done without them.’ When the structural work was finished, Jenny could start doing what she enjoys most of all – choosing the furnishings. ‘It now saddens me that I’m running out of places to put any more furniture, as I like the thrill of finding one-off pieces,’ she says. ‘I would really love to start a vintage furniture and homeware business in the future, but for now I enjoy posting things on my Instagram account – @wallflower_cottage.’ The couple love their new life and have fallen hard for the cottage, as well as the surrounding countryside. ‘There’s a real sense of peace and calm here, and not a day goes by that we don’t think how truly lucky we are to live here,’ says Jenny. ‘All the work seems like a distant memory and we’re just really enjoying living in the house and being a family, especially this Christmas – our first one with Teddy.
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