Physiotherapist Jennifer Rothbury @crack_the_shutters, won an enthusiastic Instagram following after she and her family moved into a property in Cheshire, rebuilding it from the ground up and weaving the texture of family life into every detail of her home.
We didn’t mean to buy this house. I’m a serial Rightmove browser and we came to view it because we were being nosy, but had no plans to move. Although it had gorgeous period features – including the original 1920s shutters that give my Instagram account its name – it was rundown and dark.
SEEING THE POTENTIAL
On leaving the first viewing I muttered, “Well that was horrid wasn’t it?” But my husband Miles saw potential. He envisioned a large open kitchen at the back, and two extra bedrooms in the loft. The next week we came back with a builder who confirmed we could do that. We put our house on the market that day and moved three months later with a two-year-old and a 12-week-old baby. It was a whirlwind of concrete and dust.
A CALMING PALETTE
When our eldest son Leo was little we completely babyproofed the house. But with Magnus there was no point: the house was a building site. We had to bath them with a gaping hole in the ceiling, looking up at the stars. It sounds stressful but it felt like a wonderful adventure. When the work was done we had no money left whatsoever. Everything was white and our furniture was hand-me-downs. But it felt incredible. It took a few more years for us to start changing things and developing our taste. I’ve discovered that I love calm and uplifting colours. Too dark feels oppressive to me. Too bright feels very frenetic. Our palette is dusty pink, sage and navy blue. I love painting so it’s no bother to go over something that was a mistake. My mum and dad laugh and say, “How have you suddenly become creative?” They joke that I can’t even draw a stick man. But I just try and replicate things I like. Miles and I work well together. I have the ideas and he makes them happen.
A FAMILY EFFORT
When the kids were younger it was hard to do DIY, but now they are at an age when they join in. They want to help us. Some evenings we stay up until midnight. Once we’ve started we have to finish. We get so frustrated if something isn’t finished. Lots of our creativity is born from a drive to not pay for things that you can do yourself. Miles taught himself to tile to do the bathroom. Because we couldn’t afford the tiles we wanted, I taught myself to stencil to create the vintage French-style tiles. They’re one of things I’m most proud of in the house.
A SOCIABLE SPACE
That said, the open-plan kitchen is my favourite room. It’s a family hub, as well as the perfect place to entertain. The boys play with Lego on the worktop, guests enjoy drinks there while we cook. It makes life easy and sociable.
We try to keep the bifold doors open from spring all the way into autumn. The boys love to run in and out. We chose the same tiles for inside as well as outside to create the feeling that it’s one big space.
We are close with our families and have made our home a place where they are all welcome for lunches, dinners or sleepovers. Making sure that we make family time each week and enjoy things like movie nights, snuggled in front of the fire in winter. And we love a board game, although we are all very competitive! We also feel that family meals are very important and try to have as many family dinners together each week – and a Sunday roast without fail.
Inspired by Jennifer’s beautiful home? Peek inside more homes in our Home Tour Series.