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The Home Tour Series | Jenny Lilley

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Pretty yet practical living room
The Living Room | Where Jenny and her family spend most of their time

An 18th Century cottage nestled in the Hampshire countryside, retaining many of its original features, is home to Jenny and her young family.

“The cottage forms part of a small country estate and was formerly a stables and coach house,” Jenny of the Instagram account, @wallflower_cottage tells us. “We’re surrounded by fields, woods and a 5-acre meadow we purchased recently with our neighbours. There is such an overwhelming feeling of peace and tranquility when you drive up the driveway and six years on, I still feel so lucky every day to live here.”

BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE

Bought in 2015, it was the peaceful, away-from-it-all setting which really sold the cottage to them, Jenny says. While the previous owners had made a start on the renovations, Jenny and her husband spent the next eight months, following completion, finishing much of the work themselves – only relying on a plasterer and a carpenter to help with some of the bigger woodwork projects.

Cottage landing
Jenny and her husband tackled much of the renovation work themselves and opted for a bright, neutral palette throughout

“The whole house was rewired, new wooden sash windows and doors installed throughout, lots of new carpentry such as our window seat in the living room, a large bookcase and bedroom cupboards and every surface was repainted. The main work was upstairs which included taking down a couple of walls, installing a new bathroom, and removing the old carpets to expose the old wooden floorboards which we then restored.”

Jenny says she spent many months scouring Pinterest and gathering inspiration for each room, so they knew exactly what they wanted to do when work started – “There’s nothing worse than going over your original work!”

FULL OF CHARM

Taking much of her inspiration from traditional country homes, Jenny tells us her style is modern country. She is fond of homes that tell a story. Those filled with curios collected over the course of a lifetime. An eclectic mix of antiques, faded floral linens and second-hand trinkets against a neutral backdrop.

Cottage bathroom
Jenny mixes old with new and brings in flowers from the garden for a seasonal touch

“I like a home that feels cosy, full of warmth and texture and seasonal displays but also lived-in,” she explains. “I wanted to make the house feel like a sanctuary, a calm and inviting space perfect for hiding away from the outside world. My job as a commercial lawyer can be quite stressful with long hours, so creating a relaxing place to come home to was really important. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and I think that comes through in some of the décor choices.

“There’s no good reason for me to store old chopping boards in an antique drawer on the kitchen counter, or to decorate our bedroom wall with a collection of hats but it makes me smile and that’s what is important!

“I love nothing more than visiting antique fairs and brocantes where I’ve picked up many vintage artefacts over the years to decorate our home. Our kitchen was installed by the previous owners and is a bit modern for my taste, but filling it with antique stoneware pots, old chopping boards and jars helps to add a country feel.”

A SENSE OF LIGHT

Choosing to stick to a neutral colour palette throughout is not only sympathetic to the age of the cottage but creates a sense of continuity between rooms. “We’ve also used Farrow and Ball’s French Gray on all of the exterior woodwork, including the fences, to bring it all together and make the outside and inside feel harmonious and an extension of the other.” 

An exception to the rule, Jenny tells us one of her favourite rooms – and decorating successes – is the downstairs W.C. Small and dark, it was the one room where they embraced a dark colour palette, painting the walls and ceiling in Farrow and Ball’s Hague Ball.

The cottage living room
A place to relax and play

“I finally got to use the Victorian floral tiles I’d found at a vintage fair some years before and we installed traditional bathroom fittings and accessorised with antique prints, books and candles to add some interest. It’s the room that receives the most  comments when people visit – despite the fact it cost the least!”

PRACTICAL YET PRETTY

With two young children, Teddy 2 and Rose 5 months, Jenny says they spend much of their time in the living room, cosied up by the large open fire on winter evenings. In summer, she enjoys curling up with a book on the window seat which overlooks the rose garden. Another big task before they moved in, they replanted both the back and front gardens from scratch to create a traditional cottage garden that comes alive with bees and butterflies during the summer months.

On rainy days we push the furniture to the side and spend hours playing with my son’s toy animal collection or train set! It’s a calm, relaxing space and feels like a haven from the outside world.”

Converting the former office next to the living room into a playroom helps to keep the two spaces separate. “It’s lovely being able to close the door and shut away all the child paraphernalia in the evening and have that quality adult time in a calm and peaceful space.”

Chester hallway tidy storage
A thoughtful, capacious design for busy hallways, our Chester Dove Grey hallway tidy is handcrafted with solid wood panels for superior strength
QUALITY CRAFTSMANSHIP

Living in a cottage with a growing family, Jenny tells us it has to be practical as well as pretty. “That’s why I love Cotswold Company pieces so much as they’re the perfect blend of utility and style.” Intent on maximising every corner, Jenny explains our Chester Dove Grey hallway tidy and Chester Stone 10-drawer chest are practical and yet don’t compromise on style. “Their beautiful quality means that they’ll be used for years to come.”

“I find The Cotswold Company pieces marry so well with the vintage furniture we already have in our home too. I especially love our Camille Oak dining chairs with their traditional French country style and practical, solid design. They’re also the comfiest dining chairs I’ve ever sat on! I love the way they contrast against our antique wooden farmhouse dining table. I didn’t think they’d work together but somehow they do.”

Chester stone bedroom chest storage
Our Chester Stone 10-drawer chest comes with a choice of wooden or metal handles
A CONTENTED NEST

As we slowly start to sink into autumn, we want to know how Jenny decorates her cottage for the change in seasons.

“I grow a lot of cutting flowers in the garden to bring inside so at the moment the cottage is full of roses, dahlias and cosmos. As soon as autumn comes I’ll add berry throws and cushions, dot pumpkins around and dried hydrangeas from the garden. I love using fairly lights and lots of candles during the colder months as well as lighting lots of fires!”

With such a big renovation project behind them, Jenny tells us she’s content to enjoy their home for a while. “When we have a bit more time we’re thinking of converting the garages at the rear of the house and perhaps building a potting shed/home office in the back garden but I think that will be further down the line.”

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