Quirky, split levels and a layout that had undergone a few changes over the centuries meant that this Georgian rectory had a unique personality that instantly appealed to Janet Parrella-van den Berg and her husband Dino.
‘We loved the large, open spaces and the fact you have to go down to the dining room from the reception room and then up to the kitchen,’ says Janet. ‘In total we have six different floor levels!’
Janet and Dino had a five-year plan to complete all the work but, surprisingly, everything was done in just three. ‘The only hold-up was lockdown, which slowed down the kitchen, but in general we found good tradesmen, and we did a lot ourselves,’ she says.
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The couple run White & Faded, a company specialising in restoring old furniture and selling ethically sourced products and antiques online. As you would imagine, white is their passion, and the interior of this property demonstrates the serenity evoked by an all-white scheme.
Putting the house in order meant painting everything white and then planning which room to start on first. A large hallway acts as a cosy reception room as well as providing access to the the other reception rooms.
‘We opened up all the fireplaces that had been bricked up and put in reclaimed wooden floors in the bedroom and dressing room because the original floors were badly damaged by rot and woodworm,’ says Janet.
The muslin canopy was bought in Bali, and the two chandeliers balance out the low ceiling in a wide space. ‘Our bedroom is very large, and having the canopy above the bed breaks up the space.’ It’s proof that white bedroom ideas can be both extremely romantic and restful.
‘We added a freestanding bath to the master bedroom to give it a luxury, hotel-room feel, and finally we tackled the kitchen and laundry room.’ The Swiss antique water boiler is purely ornamental but adds drama to a corner, and an antique fruit-picking ladder doubles as a towel store in this elegant space.
Pure white deep pile rugs on white floorboards keep toes from getting cold. ‘I’ve been living with white interiors for 30 years and can’t imagine anything else,’ says Janet.
‘I’m known for my “50 shades of white” interiors and this May , we’re launching our own white paint colours selected and created by me. It will help answer the thousands of questions I get about the best white shade to use where.’ In the meantime, our guide to the best white paint will help you find the perfect shade.
Between them the couple have five children and a three-year-old cat called Tommy, so Janet had to find practical ways of keeping everything clean. ‘Slipcovers are an absolute must, I drape quilts and throws over chairs and use washable paint on high traffic areas.’
Floating bookshelves hold a selection of books on design, fashion and interiors.
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Second living room
From the original Georgian hallway, there is access to the two adjoining living rooms. With such a neutral background, texture is vital, and this is created by adding cushions, throws and rugs in different shades of white.
Huge, dramatic chandeliers from Holland – Janet’s home country – add a sense of drama to the tall ceilings, and antique French mirrors generate depth through reflection. ‘Sometimes a wall needs something but a painting can be too colourful or dominant,’ she explains.
The kitchen, originally the stables, was the biggest and most recent renovation. Janet added double French doors found at a reclamation yard. When the ceilings were opened up, the original beams were exposed, plus some steel beams which formed the basis of the gallery above that’s home to antique French harvest baskets.
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Nothing is static for long in the Parrella household. ‘I keep changing things because I need to look at something new,’ adds Janet. ‘Also, our furniture is often for sale and when it’s gone we replace it with something else. We’re always on the look out for other properties, too, so this may not be our forever home.’