Sylvie Pender (whose beautiful garden I recently featured) has filled her Wiltshire home with colour, character and cheer. There’s something instantly uplifting about it; step into the flagstone-floored, stone-walled weaver’s cottage and stresses seem to melt away.
While Sylvie was growing up her parents owned a series of B&Bs in Bath, all offering eclectic decoration and a warm welcome for guests. This, coupled with inspiration from her aunts and uncles (who include a former interior designer and a pair of artists living in Morocco), has clearly left its mark. She has a real flair for the unusual, and throughout the cottage she has cleverly blended furniture from different eras and countries to create a wonderfully relaxed, homespun feel.
In the lounge (often scented with lavender from the garden) are carved side tables from India, a packing trunk from Nigeria, a 1940s sofa from London (still sink-into comfy), and a red and yellow cupboard covered with intricate hand-painted designs. There are also stacks of vibrant cushions and embroidered leather pouffes, adding a lovely folksy feel.
Upstairs, the master bedroom brings together softer shades of duck-egg blue and bottle green, with piles of cushions and blankets for cosy country evenings. The second bedroom mixes crisp white sheets with floral fabrics and antique lace-edged linens from France.
Unusually for a cottage, every room is infused with natural light thanks to large sash windows (a necessity for the weavers who once lived and worked here) and simple, whitewashed walls.
Many of the items in the house have been passed down through Sylvie’s family, including her two favourite pieces – a working wireless on which her great-grandfather listened to Neville Chamberlain announcing the outbreak of World War Two, and a freestanding mirror from the 1920s (“I love getting ready in front of it and imagining other generations of women doing the same”).
Sylvie has found some interesting uses for recycled bits and bobs, too – a Hendricks gin bottle acts as a doorstop, and wine crates hold logs for the wood-burner. And there are plenty of whimsical touches, including vases made from repurposed wine bottles, a set of Russian dolls on a mantelpiece, and a group of toy soldiers and camels arranged in battle on a windowsill.
Sylvie’s overarching aim was to create a happy atmosphere. “This isn’t a show house but a real home – somewhere to relax, entertain and feel comfortable,” she explains. She’s certainly achieved her goal, and happiness is evident in spades in every room.
Photography by Abi Dare