At Home With Emma @theoldwreck
Each week we feature the people responsible for some of the best Instagram home theme accounts.
This week we are at home with Emma the hard working lawyer and highly entertaining lady behind the excellent home instagram account @theoldwreck where she shares her love of interior design, the renovation of her Grade II listed Old Georgian Rectory, and her amusing take on day to day life
Tell us a bit about you
I’m Emma, I’m an employment lawyer by day, and a cushion addict by night! We moved into the Old Rectory just over two years ago.
We’re in the far south of Warwickshire, on the edge of the Cotswolds, where three counties meet; Worcestershire and Gloucestershire are both just a couple of miles away. When we were looking, we had a pretty wide search area, but this house was actually outside of it. But my husband fell in love with the house – I just saw a lot of work, if I’m honest, and I was walking away from a dream kitchen in our old house. I agreed on the basis I can have a brand new Aga when we eventually do the new kitchen! We’ve only ever had refurbished ones, so I can’t wait.
Tell us about your home
The house is such a hotch potch of styles. The oldest part of the house was built in the 1600s; there is a two storey stone built house from that time, which is at the centre of the house. In the mid 1700s, the property was acquired by the church and a new Georgian façade was added. This part of the house is now the dining room, drawing room and main hallway downstairs, plus the master and main guest bedroom upstairs. In Victorian times, a large three storey extension was stuck on the new front, along with a long one storey room, which is our kitchen and pantry.
The kitchen has a pitch roof and beautiful exposed beams, plus the built in dresser at one end which could have been made for my Emma Bridgewater collection.
We are hoping to do a glass side extension to the kitchen, but as we’re listed, this requires consent. The plans are in, but it seems Covid is causing a delay of all progress.
I know it’s not really an “old wreck”, but there are so many old rectories, it seemed like a good name!
How would you describe your home?
Gosh, I’m not sure. Fairly classic country with a quirky edge? Preppy hippie?! – which I hadn’t even heard of until joining Instagram, #preppyhippie
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Definitely the drawing room. It’s dual aspect, with south and west facing French windows, so the light is beautiful. It’s painted quite a dark blue, de Nimes by Farrow & Ball, with striped upholstery and dark blue velvet cushions, which could be quite masculine.
However, we have the most beautiful pink cushions which have been made using gorgeous shot silk from Susie Watson and her rose linen for the curtains. We also have some really lovely artwork, including a stunning old oil painting of two pheasants above the fireplace (a family heirloom which we’re lucky to have), a portrait of us by a great friend, the artist Jeremy O’Dwyer, and the latest addition, a fabulous oil of flamingos by local artist Jeremy Houghton.
It’s such a colourful room and feels so grown up, although I guess I am a grown up!
How does your home reflect any passions or interests that you have?
My husband loves collecting antiques, including a bit of taxidermy. I absolutely love our two miniature dachshunds, Snoop and Dizzee; you could say that we’re bonkers about sausage dogs – there is a lot of “sausage related tat” around, as we like to call it.
And a dog bed in almost every room, although not sure why we bother as they consider every sofa and armchair to be theirs too.
What are your favourite items in the home?
I love the vintage movie posters which my husband collects. He works in film, in visual effects – that’s the CGI stuff, the bits that are added after filming (as opposed to special effects, those are the bits that are actually filmed, like car chases and explosions).
We have some enormous posters, which are the original advertising from cinemas. Most that we have are French, the English versions are far too expensive; I think the French ones are more charming, luckily! We have a huge Marilyn Monroe poster in the dining room, a French version of Some Like It Hot, and have just bought two fantastic new posters, one of Brigitte Bardot and another of Sophia Loren.
So we’ll have all the screen goddesses. I can’t wait to get them up!
When you moved into your house was it the finished article or was it a project?
It is definitely a project! It had been lived in by a large family for almost 40 years and hadn’t really been decorated since the 80s, so it will need to be completely refurbished. We have made a start, but there’s still a way to go!
Have you done any renovation?
When we first moved in, we had to do some sensible but boring jobs first, like re-wiring, putting in a new boiler and replacing all the old pipes; we spent a lot of money with not a huge amount to show, which we found quite disheartening. However, whilst we did that, I was planning the decorations and soft furnishings, buying up cushions and lamps in sales and storing them for when my time would come.
We have now redone the drawing room, dining room and main hallway downstairs (with the TV room, back hall, kitchen and utility still to do), plus upstairs we’ve done the main bedroom with en suite, the two teenagers’ bedrooms and the family bathroom (with three more bedrooms, another bathroom and the study still to do).
Have you had any DIY or styling disasters?
A number of enormous cracks have developed since decorating some of the rooms. The house basically has no foundations, they didn’t really bother in those days, so it moves. It has been checked by two surveyors, who say there is nothing to worry about, it shouldn’t fall down, but it has been particularly wet and then particularly hot and dry… Fingers crossed!
What is your top home styling tip?
Get neutral sofas and armchairs so you can transform a room at a much more reasonable cost with different cushions and throws, without the need for a huge expense, if you fancy a change. And you can do the same with rugs. Every room needs a rug, in my opinion, apart from the kitchen!
Is there anything in your home that you couldn’t live without?
The Aga. This is the second Aga I’ve had now and although I was a bit apprehensive about the first one, I now love them.
They say that a every home tells visitors a story about who lives there. What do you think your home says about you?
That we love films, are slightly obsessed with cushions and that we’re not afraid of colour.
The Home Edit
Lived-in look or showhome?
Show home neat, but with a lived-in feel, if you know what I mean; I guess you call it curated clutter.
If you could only paint your walls one colour, which one would it be?
Probably something fairly neutral but warm; maybe Farrow & Ball Light Blue or French Grey. In our home in London, the whole of the living space on the main floor is Ammonite, which I love.
What is your pet hate when it comes to your own or other’s homes?
I hate white radiators, unless the walls are white. Paint them to match your walls! It’s transformative, even with a modern radiator. They disappear.
Favourite front door colour
Black in town and green in the country.
Carpet or Floorboards
Floorboards and rugs downstairs, carpets in bedrooms.
Kitchen table dining or formal dining room?
Both! We cook a roast every Sunday and always eat it in the dining room. Otherwise, it’s usually the kitchen table or on knees in front of the telly.
High gloss or rustic?
Rustic. And never high gloss plaint!
Wallpaper or Brick Walls?
If you enjoyed being at home with Emma, you might like to take a look inside other popular home styling accounts on instagram and find out more about the people behind them. You can see more of these "at home with" articles here