'I really couldn’t have created such a lovely interior without them both,' proclaims Liz Vallance of the charming Oxfordshire house that she and her family call home and that has been cleverly enhanced by the skills of her interior designer mum, Jean George, and furniture maker brother Robert George.
Keeping it in the family clearly made sense when it came to the design transformation of what was once a very modest 16th Century farmhouse into the sumptuous space it is today – a wonderful example of farmhouse decor ideas.
'My mother runs an interior design business, Jean George Interiors, and she really was my sounding board at all stages; initially when it came to plans/layouts/spatial designs; and then further down the line when choosing colors, fabrics, and furniture,' says Liz.
Liz’s style is fortunately very similar to her mother’s, who clearly has an exacting eye for design. Liz reels off ideas she implemented, including the entire layout for the end living room.
'She sorted the wood burning stove positioning, the bespoke blue sofa, which needed to be large and take into account the post in the middle of the room,’ she explains.
'And then she designed all the shelving in the TV and living room, as well as in the study, which was incredibly difficult as the aim was to hide the structural cruck frame posts but show symmetry at the same time. It was one of the hardest rooms to design.'
Enter Liz’s brother Robert. 'Luckily he is a furniture maker and, aside from making me some lovely pieces, such as the whitewashed oak kitchen table and the antique walnut veneered console table in the drawing room, he built the shelving that my mother designed.'
It is as much an essay on good family relations as anything else with every part of the interior lovingly designed to perfectly complement the property. But there was a great deal of renovation work to be done before the mother/brother duo could start.
The family were originally living in London and reluctant to leave their high-ceilinged Victorian home, but looking to move to the countryside. 'It was a big change looking at properties in Oxfordshire – many are listed due to their age and come with wooden frames and low ceilings, which didn’t suit Tim being 6ft 3in.
But this farmhouse had undergone enhancement during Edwardian times and again in the 1960s and 1980s, resulting in an unusual layout with better head height and the possibility of gaining planning permission to create an improved living space.
The couple contracted an architect who redesigned the house and managed to convince the planning department to allow doors onto the garden, re-render the whole of the property with lime render and replace all imitation lead windows with new wooden framed ones to allow more daylight in.
Work started to remove the entire 1960s and 1980s part of the house and to create a larger kitchen/dining room overlooking the garden.
The result is a charming symbiosis of old and modern farmhouse style. Exposed beams, low ceilings and wonky wooden floors still depict a characterful old farmhouse, while the contemporary, light-filled addition provides a sense of space, height and immediate connection with the open skies and countryside outside.
'What I love the most is the space and light and feeling of calm as well as the cosiness with lower ceilings and wooden beams. Also, how it is all connected and finished with the calm natural colours and blue palette throughout.’ And it does all work wonderfully together of course – as they say, mum knows best!
Words / Sara Emslie
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Andrea has been immersed in the world of homes, interiors and lifestyle since her first job in journalism, on Ideal Home. She went from women's magazine Options to Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor on Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for sister title homesandgardens.com.
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