Gorgeous Home Guide

Step inside this stunning four-bedroom Berkshire home, built in 1923 and kitted out in a relaxed vintage style. It’s home to Beth and Geoff Francis, their three children and three golden retrievers. Take the tour now….

Beth loves new challenges, especially when it comes to decorating new homes and she definitely found one when she moved into a former headmaster’s home in Berkshire with her husband Geoff and three children. ‘I enjoy creative jobs and find them therapeutic and rewarding,’ says Beth, ‘and for me that includes anything from laying a wooden floor to making a loose chair cover or painting a chest. If I had my way I’d happily move every five years, if only for the pleasure of having a new project to get my teeth into.’

When they moved into their new home, the couple had to go a lot a work to it as the previous owners had done few repairs. The old conservatory was falling down, so Beth designed a new dining-room extension to sit in its place. The resulting all-glass façade has become the defining feature of the elegant home. ‘This dining room and kitchen is the space we live in the most,’ says Beth. ‘I love it as all the family tend to gather here, and thanks to the glass walls, you really feel you’re part of the surrounding garden.’

It took three years to renovate the home to their tastes. At one stage tarpaulin was covering the entire kitchen. ‘My advice to anyone carrying out a similar project is to do any building work in the summer!’ smiles Beth. When it came to decorating, Beth got stuck in. ‘Textiles, paint charts and DIY jobs are my passion,’ she says. ‘My father John taught me everything he knows about carpentry including how to lay a wooden floor.’ Beth’s father made the oak dining tabletop, which he made using pieces of wood found in his toolshed. He also adapted a curtain pelmet, which Beth cleverly disguised to look like a French antique, turning it into a decorative mantelpiece for the sitting room.

For the sitting room and bedrooms, Beth chose English floral prints that create all year-round summer freshness. ‘I love working on my sewing machine and being experimental,’ she says. ‘If you have a traditionally shaped wing chair, why not give it a contemporary twist by covering the seat in a bold floral and the rest in a plain cream material? If you enjoy home-making, you will usually relish experimenting and you’ll inevitably hit upon something different.’

Words: Adapted from Maggie Colvin. Photos: Robert Sanderson

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor