House Design

This beautifully restored country rectory is the perfect place to celebrate Christmas

A Georgian rectory has been sympathetically updated and extended while remaining true to its elegant period details

Formal living room with Christmas tree and fire lit with grey walls and contemporary artworksash windows
(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

Renovating a period home is rarely a quick process, but the owners of this old Georgian rectory had a shared vision of a blissful country home, and were prepared to take the long view. 

Ten years after acquiring the Old Rectory, a Georgian house in an Oxfordshire village, their home is a delight to behold. Completed in a series of steady phases, it’s proof that patience really does pay off. 

The attention to detail and the quality of the finish in this renovated period property truly make it one of the world's best homes.

arched front door in cotswold stone extension with Christmas wreath and box plants in pots

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

It was the garden that first attracted the homeowners to the property and one of the first things they did was repair the tennis court and swimming pool for the family to enjoy. The house itself, while attractive, had fallen into disrepair and was in need of a committed effort to reclaim its former glory. 

The property had been in the same family for well over 50 years and really hadn’t been touched much in that time. Its new owners discovered that some of the walls that were more structurally unsound than they had expected, and the roof was beginning to leak. They started with all the essential structural requirements before taking on each floor.


christmas scene in white kitchen with walnut breakfast bar with decorative plaster moulding above

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

The owners were keen to preserve as much detail as possible in the original property. This included the cornicing, the shutters and the fireplaces, as well as an ornate marquetry floor in the drawing room and an original Arts & Crafts carved staircase. 

For anyone looking for kitchen ideas, this smart space is full of inspiration. The dark walnut bar table pairs elegantly with the grey cabinetry and great care has been taken to match and retain the surrounding period features. 

breakfast bar with white stools with wooden finish and white cabinets

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

The owner came up with the interior schemes herself, having learnt from decorating a couple of London houses and a previous country home. She was also grateful for advice of an interior designer friend, who provided 'an endless source of wisdom’. 

Dining room

banquette seating around dining table with arched entrance

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

This relaxed setting for family mealtimes showcases some practical dining room ideas that would transfer well to other open-plan kitchen-diners. Once the utility room, this alcove now has banquette seating that is softly upholstered and inviting. 

Living room

Christmas tree with georgian sash windows, mirrored furniture and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

With just the right mix of traditional and contemporary styling, the living room ideas in this space put the emphasis on glamor. 

Grey living room with contemporary art and art deco table and fire lit with christmas tree just seen

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

An early 20th-century Art Deco coffee table is a striking centerpiece, and sets the tone with velvet living room sofa ideas arranged for socializing by the fire. 

Garden room

gustavian style bench with christmas presents and period ecclesiastical style windows behind

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

The house was also extended, with a garden room built around the ruins of an old structure and connecting to the old church reading room. There's space here for a Gustavian-style bench, along with dining furniture in the same style. 

gustavian-style dining chairs and table set for dinner

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)


bedroom with double bed and grey patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

The homeowner describes the rectory's new style as ‘a fusion of classic and modern’, characterized by plenty of mirrored surfaces, both on the walls and in the furniture, as well as mid-century and slightly distressed yet ornate, Gustavian-influenced pieces. 

bedroom with tradiitional style wooden bed and pale wallpaper with sunburst mirrors

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

While a palette of soft greys dominates, hand-painted de Gournay wallpapers bring exquisite delicacy to the principal bedrooms, which are a rich source of bedroom ideas for anyone looking for a luxurious look. 

big double bedroom with wallpaper with branches pattern

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

Entrance hall

hexagonal mirrors in an entrance hall with white tiled floor

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

For the entryway ideas, hexagonal mirrors bounce light from the windows further into the house. 

entrance hall with fire lit and christmas candles

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

At Christmas time, the house welcomes friends and family, greeted happily by a roaring fire in the entrance hall. The warm embrace of this glorious country home is a seasonal highlight for all its guests.

Photography/Polly Eltes

Styling /Sian Williams

Text/ Juliet Benning

exterior of cotswold stone home with extension and arched double front door with christmas wreath

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)
Karen Darlow

Karen is the houses editor for and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.