Interiors: vintage Christmas at an Edwardian cottage in Bushey
PUBLISHED: 11:15 10 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:15 10 December 2018
A young family moved from an outgrown flat in London to an Edwardian cottage in Bushey, lovingly bringing it back to life with vintage finds and sympathetic updates
A stroke of luck and twist of fate brought Jo and Simon Rutt and their two sons to their new Hertfordshire home.
‘I remember feeling very reluctant to leave our Victorian flat in Finchley, which we had outgrown by the time William was a toddler and Harry was born,’ says Jo. ‘My sister lives on the next road down from us and had noticed this pretty cottage had come up for sale and informed my mother who persuaded me to have a look. As soon as I walked up the path and peered through the letterbox and saw the original cast iron fireplace in the hall I was sold!’
On viewing the 1906 property in Bushey, Jo and Simon sold their flat and having had an offer accepted, proceeded with a private sale with two daughters who had inherited the cottage from their elderly parents.
‘The house had been rented out for a few years but was in good condition with all the original features including cupboards, fireplaces and wooden floors,’ Jo explains.
The couple moved in when Harry was just six months old. ‘Moving day went smoothly until we returned from having dinner in a local pub and couldn’t find the cat, who through fear had escaped up the chimney! My mum always says the first thing you should do when you move into a new house is to make up the beds, which luckily we had done, so when the cat finally came out of hiding, she ran into our bedroom and headed straight into our bed for comfort.’
The first job Jo and Simon tackled was to replace the old fashioned boiler in the dining room with a combination boiler housed in the utility room adjoining the kitchen.
‘An old range cooker would have once stood inside the central cupboard in the dining room, which had long been replaced by a large tanked boiler that we took out. I use the centre cupboard to store away my vintage china, glassware and crockery and the boys have claimed the other two to store their books, toys and games.’
Jo’s talent in upcycling furniture has led to a passion for sourcing and discovering vintage homewares online.
‘I have a huge interest in vintage homewares and love spending weekends treasure hunting at antique, vintage fairs and flea markets. I love the old and unusual, from vintage toys to fabrics, and I adore blue and white china. Lots of my favourite finds have been from local car boot sales. The pine chest in the sitting room was from the back of a van during a house clearance and when I opened it up it was full of old photographs. I later learnt that servants used to keep all their treasures in old boxes like this one.’
Their biggest undertaking took place six years ago with a loft extension to create a master suite and update the family bathroom.
‘Everyone asked when we were building the loft extension if it was for the boys and I laughed replying “No it’s for us!” The boys both have great sized bedrooms and we turned Harry’s old bedroom into an office for Simon.’
Having inspected several building projects of theirs, the couple hired Danny Bowell of Building Services, Harrow and employed his architect to assist with the council planning application.
‘As the scaffolding went up at the front of the house, there was hardly any mess or inconvenience caused to us living here,’ Jo recalls. ‘Danny was fantastic and completed the job in just six weeks and did such a great job at matching the original balustrades on the new staircase leading up to the loft, which looks seamless.’
The master bedroom is a tranquil space with powder blue painted walls and built in floor- to-ceiling cupboards, elegantly hidden from view behind the door.
‘I didn’t want to see rows of wardrobes and a small part of me thinks I should maybe paint the old mahogany chest of drawers but the rest of me loves it as it really stands out from the blue walls and other white painted woods.
‘I’m constantly moving furniture, objects and artwork around, I find it easier to live with neutral backgrounds allowing colour to come from accessories. I seem to be drawn to pale soft blues, earthy greens and muted greys which I find particularly calming colours to live with.’
Jo visited her local Fired Earth showroom where she selected green retro metro tiles offset against traditional white and chrome style fixtures and fittings and a contrasting black slate floor for the family bathroom.
With Jo’s creative eye to seek out antiques and bargains, the cottage has interesting finds and touches dotted about in every corner, as well as colourful abstract paintings by Jo’s sister-in-law, artist Philly Rutt.
Having celebrated a special birthday, Jo and Simon returned from France with even more treasures for their home.
‘We had an incredible experience staying in a French château in Bordeaux where we ate the most amazing food and visited fabulous antique shops where I discovered a selection of vintage glass decanters that we brought back,’ says Jo.
‘People always ask me where to go to pick up bargain furniture and antiques. I always say Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton on every second and last Tuesday of the month. But you need to get there early in the morning to pick up the best bargains. All the dealers from France and Belgium attend with their beautiful finds.’
Turning their attentions to the inherited kitchen, Jo and Simon hope to transform the space.
‘I still see the house as evolving and its very much work in progress,’ Jo admits. ‘Having seen the extended space in our neighbours’ home, which is amazing, we’d love to do the same and open up the back of the house and enlarge the kitchen.’
And their plan for Christmas? ‘We have a large family so Christmas time is always chaotically busy with lots of fun to be had. Simon’s step-mother Sandy is an incredible cook and the days are filled with astoundingly good food, champagne, Christmas games and plenty of festive cheer and laughter.’
Jo Rutt, an interiors instagrammer @nickelandgoosevintage and buyer and seller of all things vintage, lives here with her husband Simon, a marketing director, and their boys William and Harry, their chocolate brown Labrador, Cassie, and British shorthair cat, Bear.
The property is an extended mid-terraced cottage built in 1906, now a four-bedroom house in Bushey.
Jo’s project notes
What was a major lesson from renovating the property?
‘We spent a lot of money on the bathroom and then unfortunately selected an inexperienced tiler, which obviously came at a price. Never cut corners and always get the best tradesmen for the job.’
Top tip to pass on to someone doing a similar project?
‘I’d say it’s important to do your homework and really think about what you want, so that when your builder comes on site you’re organised.’
Books or guides that helped you through the project?
‘Favourite books I constantly use for references are Thrifty Chic by Liz Bauwens, Bazaar Style by Selina Lake/Joanna Simmons, Farrow & Ball Living with Colour by Ros Byam Shaw, Vintage Home by Sarah Moore, and plenty of homes and interior magazines.’
This article is reproduced from Real Homes and is copyright of or licenced by Future Publishing Ltd (a Future plc group company, UK 2018). All rights reserved