Sometimes a house isn’t just a home, it also provides inspiration. Which is exactly what happened when Joanna Jensen was searching for a name for her range of organic children’s bath products. Formerly known as Childs Farm, the house not only gave its original name to Joanna’s new business, but also by way of its four-legged residents, inspired the design of the labels which feature illustrations of some of the animals that live there. Organic, beautifully smelling (with scents such as strawberry and mint, and tangerine and sweet orange) and with no chemical nasties, Childs Farm also donates a percentage of profits to charity – good for your kids and good for the community, what could be better than that?
Bought by Joanna and her husband Peter in 2006, just after the birth of their first daughter Emilia, “the original Queen Anne part of the house was in good order, but there was a very poor quality Victorian extension at the back of the house and the barn and stable block were in very sorry states,” she says. “We ended up having builders here for the best part of two years.” The house is now fully ship-shape and home to Joanna, Peter, their two daughters and increasing menagerie of animals. Here she tells us all about it…
“My style is traditional with no fuss, so I like to keep the walls plain and bring colour in through the curtains and artwork. We have a lot of quite modern art, which we like to mix with the traditional. Most of the furniture came from my family, and my husband had quite a lot of Danish pieces (much of which is still in storage!). The main purchases were a sofa for the kitchen and a couple of beds. Other pieces we picked up at auction in Newbury and assorted local antique and junk shops.”
“I wanted a kitchen which wasn’t a kitchen in the normal sense, but somewhere where we would all ‘live’. The design is centred around two red lacquered Chinese cupboards that I bought in Macau in 1994 when I lived in Hong Kong. They’ve really travelled the world with me and are still going strong having contained clothes, linen and now all our china and crockery! We have an enormous island for preparation and general junk, then the dogs have beds either side of the Aga. All the gubbins is in the pantry, so the rest of the room can be taken up with free standing cupboards and comfy seats – and more dog beds!
Beauvallon fabric (from the kitchen curtains) by Rapture & Wright; kitchen units are by Plain English and are painted in Mouse’s Back by Farrow & Ball. 5litres, £61; Joanna’s driftwood candle holders are from Bergman & Brown in Stockbridge, Hampshire. These ones from OKA are similar, £55.
“We wanted to be able to seat 20 people easily, but also wanted to keep the room feeling intimate. It’s north-facing and naturally quite cold, so we went with heavy wool tartan curtains to create a feeling of warmth, which worked well with the bronze stags on the mantlepiece. The room is built around the large fireplace and I designed the surround to be large but in proportion with the size of the room – and the stags! The paintings, mirrors and lighting give it a Scottish feel.”
“This was the room where we made no effort and threw together all the furniture we had left over after having finished the house! It’s a case of getting around to doing it eventually – but there have been different priorities. What I love about this room is the wide floorboards and the cosy lived-in feel that throwing everything together created.”
“I love to read so it was really important that our bedroom felt cosy. We decided to put all our polo pictures together, and so the theme of dogs, foxes and animals took shape. On the wall is a framed limited edition fox scarf by Hermes from the 1960s, which both my mother and I used to wear. When we found out it was quite rare, I stitched it up and had it framed. I also wanted pictures of all my family in here, so I can look at them twice a day. This room says more about me than any other, and having my favourite bits of china in it also make it feel special.”
“We use the barn mainly for village and charity events – weddings, parties, Harvest, Jubilee – you name it, it’s happened here. We also hold the annual Childs Farm live nativity in it every year, where we act out the nativity with homemade mulled wine and mince pies, and have assorted animals acting out the parts too! Ben the 34 year old pony always brings Mary in, although Harold our ram is no more, so we’re not sure who will have the lead animal role this year!