In Worcestershire, England, Laura Jenkinson lives with her husband, Colin, and their two teenage children, in a 100-year-old home on the grounds of a large farmhouse. Once a timber framed barn used as a hayloft, the couple had low expectations of the property five years ago, but viewing it in person quickly changed their perceptions of how a space’s energy can be more impactful than physical structure alone.
“It looked incredibly dark and a bit oppressive,” says Laura. “But as soon as we walked in, we completely changed our minds. The building was so characterful and felt spacious inside. We could immediately see its potential. The couple who lived in the house were very content here. There was a strong sense of it being a happy family home, and they were only moving as it had become unmanageable for them.”
Structurally, the house was already in good condition. Laura and Colin were happy to buy the property, making the long-term commitment of a gradual renovation tackling an area at a time. One of the first things they set out to do was lift the darkness and bring light to the heaviness of dark varnished wood and warm-toned walls. They painted the walls white, plastered over some non-original brickwork and stripped the stairs.
“The open plan lounge and dining room is the biggest room in the house and the area we use the most, so that was our next focus,” says Laura. “It already had lovely windows and a log-burning stove, but we replaced the faux Victorian wooden surround with a reclaimed oak beam, which was in keeping with the rest of the room. We also replaced the carpet with a wooden floor and changed the lighting. It’s still the only room in the house which is finished, but it’s been worth the wait, as it’s a lovely place to spend time in.”
Their approach to renovations has been budget-friendly, with minor cosmetic changes packing a visual punch. The bedrooms upstairs have vaulted ceilings, and the beams are peppered with old tacks and iron nails. Their additions of panelling in the bathroom and replacing built-in kitchen cupboards with open shelving have helped modernise an otherwise traditional cottage aesthetic.
“The kitchen is not what we would have chosen, but it’s still perfectly functional, and we’ve never installed a new kitchen or bathroom. Instead, we’ve just tweaked what we’ve inherited from previous owners by painting and refurnishing,” says Laura.
Their home has been almost entirely furnished with flea market finds and eBay treasures, so the prevailing style is vintage and eclectic. “We’ve spent countless Sunday mornings rummaging around antique fairs and have taken our time to find pieces that work in the space. Apart from being well made, antique furniture is much more sustainable and kinder to the planet. It’s a win-win. We’ve deliberately kept a relatively neutral, calm palette, having just a few pops of colour dotted about, as anything more just seems to compete with the busyness of the beams and the brickwork.”
There is plenty of aged wooden furniture, chipped enamel pendants, dug-up stoneware and old glass bottles, each piece coming with its own unique story and past. The Malvern Flea and Collectors fair, which takes place nine times a year at the Three Counties showground, has been Laura’s regular stomping ground for sourcing furniture and inspiration.
“It’s huge and has a real mix of everything. Some of the stalls are French brocante, there’s rustic Indian antiques, industrial lighting, loads of ceramics, mid-century paintings and some vintage clothing too,” she says. “One of our favourite finds is an elm pig bench that we’d been looking for since moving in. It’s exactly the right length so you can reach your drink from anywhere on either sofa, but narrow enough to not get in the way.”
Other favourites in their repertoire of interior design include the artwork they’ve collected over the years. “It’s an eclectic mix of oil paintings by my husband, framed posters from exhibitions and little screen prints or etchings the children have made. A few years ago, for my birthday, my parents bought me a beautiful colourist portrait by Poppy Ellis, entitled ‘Laura’, which I absolutely love. She will always be there, brightening up the walls wherever I live.”
Follow Laura on IG: @tickingstripehome