Original features and modern design classics combine with family fun in Jim and Chloe's versatile home.


The spacious living room is full of unmatched but well-chosen furniture, typical of the combination of old and new in the Read family’s Victorian four-bed former vicarage in the Welsh borders where they’ve lived since 2003. ‘We love the original features, such as the cornicing and fireplace,’ says Chloe ‘but we also like the effect of mixing in modern design classics.’


‘Chloe insisted that we bought the best kitchen appliances, which would last us years, and the rest of the kitchen fell into place along that theme,’ says Jim. ‘The stainless-steel cupboards and worktops are a fabulous contrast to the dark Welsh-slate floor. They also highlight older pieces, such as the clock. I couldn’t wait to put the Chinese dragon up when I bought it as it finishes the room – it adds that element of fun.’


The classic black Conran chair and the oversized sofa are framed by Jim’s wall of painted flowers in the living room. ‘I got bored watching a film one evening and painted the blossom design using sample pots of paint we had left over,’ says Jim. ‘It was a great surprise that it worked so well!’


Plain white walls provide a blank canvas for Jim’s treasured vintage clocks. ‘The plain white walls let the furniture and accessories do the talking. Plus it’s easy to just touch up bits of scribbled-on wall with white paint!’ he says. The tiles in the hallway are original, except for a few which were sourced locally to replace missing ones. ‘We asked a company to make replica tiles, but there was a minimum order, so now we have boxes of spare tiles in the garage,’ says Jim.


The massive clock, found at a French fleamarket, dominates the wall at the end of the kitchen, while its deep red face echoes the warmth of the wooden dining table, benches and antique chest, all of which contrast with the slate floor and white walls. ‘To make the most of the downstairs floor space, we decided to knock down two dividing walls between three rooms to make one large, family-friendly kitchen-diner,’ says Jim. ‘When we bought the house it had a tiny kitchen at the back, so we converted that into a home office. This is a great room now, because we can cook while the children play at the table, and there’s plenty of room to entertain.’


An all-white scheme and designer fittings create a functional but stylish family bathroom. ‘The cabinet above the bath – which Jim made – provides extra storage but also blends in with the neutral look,’ says Chloe. White rubber flooring adds a soft texture to the scheme, while the wood of the bath feet and basin vanity stand bring natural warmth.


‘We painted the back stairs in loads of different colours. With all the white walls, we felt that the house could do with an injection of colour!’ says Chloe. Jim’s parents, who are antiques dealers, found the tin panel while clearing out a barn. ‘This was the perfect place to hang it as the stairs pick out the colours. Given that this staircase was shut up when we moved in, it’s quite a transformation,’ explains Jim.


‘We loved the fact we could get away with quite a dramatic look in the main bedroom,’ says Chloe. ‘The red velvet curtains were a must – along with the huge leather bed – and they look fantastic against the original sash windows. It’s quite an indulgent room.’


Buster’s room combines plenty of personality with practicality. ‘I didn’t realise how long it was going to take me to actually design and build the bed, but the end result was worth it,’ says Jim. ‘I bought the slatted bases and built the rest of the frame around them. Buster loves it!’ The rest of Buster’s bedroom contains sleek, white storage units that keep clothes and toys neatly stored away.