With photography by Beth Davies
Swapping city life for more rural surroundings can be daunting. It’s something a lot of us may have pondered, but never quite managed. Last year, however, there was a shift in perspective. With working from home becoming an increasingly viable option, outlooks changed, and many people started to feel that their dream move to the countryside wasn’t so far-fetched after all.
With this in mind, we wanted to share a recent relocation project we were part of which saw Samantha Jacob, Creative Director of luxury bag and accessories brand Troubadour Goods and her family move from London to Yorkshire to create their perfect home.
For Sam and her husband, the idea of making a ‘big move’ had been bubbling for a while. “We had always dreamt of building our own home in the countryside,” she says, and so when her sister relocated to a small village just outside York, it prompted Sam and her family to follow suit. “My sister moved here two years before us and we fell in love with the village,” she says. “It’s the last working green village in the country, with a fantastic pub and school. It was ideal for us.”
The village’s location just outside York was another plus. “We both have London-based jobs and can get to the city in 1 hour 50 minutes from York,” says Sam. “It felt like we could balance our jobs and live in a more green, peaceful setting.”
It wasn’t just a green, peaceful setting that awaited Sam and her family in the north, however - there was also the opportunity to create the home they’d dreamt of for so long.
The couple wanted an inspirational space that would become a family home they could put their personal stamp on - “We love the minimal, Scandinavian look. Clean lines, space and light,” says Sam. Their search led them to a 1970s bungalow in a secluded spot that was perfect. “We loved the site and the hidden position,” says Sam. “It's on a two-acre plot with views of farmland and horses next door.”
As well as bucolic surroundings, the property had tons of potential, and it was the scope it offered for creativity that sealed the deal. “It has a very cool seventies vibe that we knew we could work with to create a wonderful family home,” says Sam.
Once they’d moved in, it was time to start planning the renovation, but Sam was in no rush. In fact, it was over a year before any work began. “We lived in the property for 18 months to suss out the light, seasons and where we wanted each room and windows etc,” she says. “Planning took a year (the house is in a conservation area) so there was a lot of back and forth.”
It was during this time they contacted Bert & May, having discovered that we were almost neighbours. “I’ve been following Bert & May for many years and always loved the products,” says Sam. “I love how unique they are. The handmade look, the super-matt finishes, the designs, the quality...
“I first discovered the brand in London, at the Heal’s pop-up store, then when we moved I discovered the founder lived nearby and had a yard here. We met up and Lee [Thornley, founder of Bert & May] was super helpful with planning our bathrooms, fireplace and flooring.
“In the end, we used three sinks, two sets of taps, and a whole array of tiles from Bert & May. In the bathrooms, we used the Conran, Alalpardo and Churriana tiles, the Alalpardo and Ebony Glazed tiles for the fireplace, and the utility room floor is decked out with the Asquith tile. In each instance they look super striking, unique and contemporary.”
The initial tile choice was only the start of the design journey, however, with the flexible nature of Sam’s choices meaning she could add a personal touch to everything. “I absolutely loved being creative with them to create my own patterns. It was really good fun and makes it feel more personal and unique,” she says.
Overall, the tiles were a perfect fit for the new space, bringing “texture, clean lines, graphic style and modern aesthetics”, while their soft finishes complement Sam’s use of natural materials and textures throughout. “Natural materials bring warmth and graphic interest. I love tactile spaces,” she says.
Colour, too, was carefully considered and used beautifully in the property, with a focus on striking monochrome and neutral tones. “I like mixing neutrals with dramatic, bold patterns and a splash of colour to catch your eye,” says Sam.
The light in the home is yet another statement-maker, with floor-to-ceiling windows illuminating the space and bringing the outside in. The blurring of indoor/outdoor boundaries was an essential part of the entire renovation, says Sam: “We added the windows and filled the house with plants too - it’s like a jungle in here! I love the countryside and seeing as much green as possible from every window. It creates a calm, tranquil feel to the house.
“We also have so many animals that live in our garden like rabbits, moles, hedgehogs, hens, horses and woodpeckers, and I love seeing them all day long through the huge openings. We built a balcony from the main bathroom and bedroom upstairs - in the summer months we have the sliding windows open permanently which feels like we’re living outside. I especially love the feeling of having a hot bath outside.”
The overall build took six months, with a full team on-site every day to cut down the completion time, and the finished project, says Sam, is a “busy, happy, joyful home” that fulfils their intentions. The move from London, it seems, was definitely a wise one.
However, they’re not quite finished with their dream home just yet... “We are currently building a standalone office space in the garden for my husband and I to work in as living in an open-plan house makes it a little trickier to concentrate. I have no doubt it will be filled with Bert & May tiles too…”
Watch this space for the next instalment.
If you’d like to discuss a project you’re about to start, or are looking for interior inspiration, contact the Bert & May team to arrange an interior design consultation