dreaming of a white christmas
I first shot this house, at Easter, many many years ago with photographer Brent Darby when I was the features editor at Period Living; it’s a magical house hidden away in the woods in the Peak District that the owners Phil and Philippa Heath have carefully restored and sympathetically extended to cater to the changing needs of their growing family. They have three boys and one daughter, and have added bedrooms, partitioned them, taken walls back down, put them back up again, chopping and changing as one or another reaches a different stage in their life. It’s an incredibly flexible attitude to how large families can make sure everyone gets what they need.
I returned to the Heaths’ house in the woods with Brent just a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2012. Mr Jones and I were approaching our daughter’s first birthday, and buying a house in the London suburbs. I had just finished my official maternity leave ending my contract with the magazine, and this was my first photo shoot as a freelance writer and stylist. It made a magical start to the new chapter in my life: Phil and Philippa’s warm welcome was a wonderful way to begin my journey into the unknown world of self-employment. They themselves are self-employed: Phil is a tree surgeon, Philippa is a holistic lecturer specialising in infant massage; and together, they sell seasoned logs and create decorative bits and pieces from offcuts of wood. They know all about living hand to mouth. They’d spent their savings on the extension and repairs to the house so didn’t have much left for anything else for their home, so they salvaged and upcycled skip-dipped furniture transforming it into Scandinavian-chic pieces; Phil has even created a few pieces from scratch when tasked by Philippa who knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it to look. ‘Good quality paint, like Farrow & Ball, can work wonders,’ says Philippa. ‘Living with ducks and chickens, dogs, boots and wellies means we’re never clean or tidy, but the lightness and brightness of Scandinavian style gives the illusion of cleanliness at least.’
They are an inspirational family with creative ideas to make an old-fashioned style life work in the modern world, and their home makes a wonderful location not just for our incredibly festive photo shoot but for the dozens of friends and family members who drop in over the Christmas holidays. It’s an open-door policy that makes everyone feel welcome and very special. Philippa says: ‘It may be chaotic but we look forward to time with the children and recapturing all those early days of sheer excitement and anticipation, and here we have the space for the children to let off steam and the grown ups to relax, for a few minutes anyway..!’
Visit www.heathscapes.co.uk for low moisture (15%) firewood logs, (country sun dried), unique tree trunk stools on castors, decorative logs and unique wood decorations.
The sitting room has a Scandinavian feel with painted wood combined with unfinished logs. Phil made the Gustavian style benches from odd pieces of wood; find similar at Shabby Chic Country Living.
Open shelves and attractive storage work well in an open plan space. Ella’s Kitchen Company Ltd make lovely Scandinavian style kitchen storage. The units were hand me downs and refurbished. The bench was from a rugby changing room; John Lewis has a good selection of bench seats.
The sitting room is flooded with light thanks to its triple aspect. Flooring was reclaimed from a school that was being demolished; sofas were from friends and relatives. White painted furniture can be found at Shabby Chic Country Living.
Looking down on the open plan kitchen you can get a sense of the space and light enhanced by the white painted furniture. The bench was from a rugby changing room, find a selection at John Lewis. The table was painted Clunch by Farrow and Ball. The red Stanley range provides a hit of colour.
The master bedroom was once two rooms; it now provides ample space for the couple’s sanctuary. A simple bed has been embellished and dressed to create a smart four-poster with drapes. Fabric came from Ikea.
There’s a Scandinavian feel in the bathroom too. The bath was reclaimed from a field; find roll tops at Bathstore. Ashdown Rose Cotton Duck by Cath Kidston has a similar look to Philippa’s floral fabric.
The off white theme continues in Bess’s room, but red touches warm up the look for Christmas.
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