beck to basics
One of my favourite perks of my job as a stylist is travelling around the UK discovering places I would never have found myself in otherwise; often deep into the countryside with no street signs, no phone signal and scarcely any neighbours save the local wildlife; my trip to Wales with photographer Robert Sanderson to shoot this enchanting cottage was just one of those experiences…
This five-bedroom house equidistant between the awe inspiring Brecon Beacons and the vibrantly hued coastline of New Quay and Aberaeron was originally a single-storey two-room dwelling built in the 1850s, and was virtually derelict when its owner Jane Beck first saw it. ‘A rolling landscape, the sound of birdsong and an atmosphere more akin to 40 years ago and reminiscent of my own childhood in rural Berkshire were the draw,’ recalls Jane, who moved from Reading in 1997 to give her now grown up children a bucolic upbringing.
Jane couldn’t have chosen a more extreme opposite of the busy city she left behind: when you’re inside her home you feel a million miles from everything and everyone: low ceilings and 18-inch thick walls create a solid and comforting cocoon separating you from modern life and its frivolous distractions. She has kept original features such as the red and black quarry tiles downstairs and has embraced the raw appearance of white-washed stone throughout as a backdrop for her antique and vintage furniture and lighting along with her staggering collection of colourful Welsh blankets for which the local area is renowned. In every room, the mismatched patterns and textures provide a massive injection of personality. ‘I change my blankets and cushions around every few months so the colours suit the season – it’s much easier than repainting,’ says Jane.
I often take cushions and blankets along with me on shoots, so it was amazing to have such a huge amount of ‘props’ to play with on this photo shoot!
With a background in social history as well as her unfaltering passion for local crafts, Jane has become the leading authority on Welsh blankets, and now supplies contemporary and antique textiles to admirers and researchers, historical exhibitions and media productions around the globe. She even received a commission from NATO in 2014 when the UK hosted the annual summit in Newport; both President Obama and the Secretary General were given one of Jane’s new Welsh blankets and each of the 35 delegates were gifted with a textile-covered journal bound by Nia Hobbs.
Black and red quarry tiled flooring throughout the kitchen/diner and into the hallway is original.
The quarry tiles were laid straight onto the mud floor. The runner was an offcut from Solva Woollen Mill; luckily, Jane had enough to carpet the stairs.
Jane changes the colour of her accessories to suit the seasons. Fireplace painted similar to Middleton Pink by Farrow & Ball.
Even this glass-fronted cupboard in the sitting room can’t contain all of Jane’s personal collection of Welsh blankets, which are stacked to the ceiling.
A stable door provides some fresh air on a warm day, while the blanket used as a curtain prevents drafts on colder days.
The vaulted ceiling in the main bedroom is flanked by arched windows with 18-inch thick walls/ledges. Layers of blankets add colour and warmth on the bed; floral cushions are in ‘Tregaron’ by Sanderson.
The modern bathroom has a small piece of the same runner as on the stairs, from Solva Woollen Mill.
Jane’s shop, a replica tin shed.
Inside her shop, Jane holds a vast collection of blankets, both contemporary and antique, which are sold to the public and loaned to TV productions and exhibitions.
If you’d like to see your home in a magazine, please do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
Jane is offering you a chance to win a little bit of Welsh style with a fantastic competition: simply follow her on Twitter by midnight 13 March 2017 and you’ll be entered into the draw to win a pair of pure new wool Welsh cushions worth £112. The draw will take place on 14 March and the winner will be notified by Jane via Twitter. Contact Jane directly via her website Welsh Blankets.