At Home With Juliet @juliet_denningcottage
This week we are at home with Juliet West. Juliet is a very talented mixed media artist and the lovely lady behind the popular home interior instagram account @juliet_denningcottage where she shares fabulous creative images of her wonderful home. Read on to discover more about Juliet, her home and family and top decor tips.
Tell us about you
I am an artist living in a village in Buckinghamshire, but I sell most of my paintings in Swanage, Dorset, where we are lucky enough to have a bolt-hole, which sometimes pops up on my grid. My home is quite different to the often moody coastal work that I sell (@julietwestartist) We hope in the future to end up on the Dorset coast full-time but for now Denning Cottage is a lovely place to be landlocked in the Chilterns!
Tell us about your home
Our home is a cottage built in the 1920s, between the wars and originally had a bay window at the front, fireplaces in every room and sat behind a white picket fence. Unfortunately over the years much of that was lost so we have tried to bring back some of that character during its time with us.
How would you describe your home?
The kitchen and loft have a traditional country cottage style but in the living room we used the Victorian fireplace that had been reinstated by the previous owners to build the room theme around. The tiles formed the basic colour scheme and we chose a period wallpaper to pull the look together. I initially wasn’t keen on using black in the scheme but it actually worked really well as an accent to complement the fireplace and hearth.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
My favourite room has to be the kitchen. I find the soft colours calming, in what can be a chaotic household and I definitely feel it is the engine room of our home, with the children doing homework at the table while I cook. Having a view from the sink of the French doors out to the garden makes it a pleasure to be in.
We still have the working end of the kitchen to renovate. That and our elder daughter’s bedroom are next on the list so watch this space! It’s amazing how when bringing up children the days are slow but the years fly by!
How does your home reflect any passions or interests?
Most of the artwork in the house is painted by me and I expect my creative sidecomes out in how I interior design, although I do have a tendency to be a bit matchy-matchy and sometimes need to rein that in. I also decorate items to sell as a hobby alongside my paintings and some of these items crop up in my home Instagram feed as well as my @prettythingsstudio one!
In the coastal bolthole, the colour themes are quite different, with a prevalence of Moroccan blue and whites. The building with its Victorian proportions – high ceilings and large sash windows – can take the stronger colours and we love having seaside escapes there as often as possible. My crockery choice there has been Emma Bridgewater Starry Skies which picks up on the blue and white theme and feels coastal and magical at the same time.
What are your favourite items in the home?
My favourite items are my crockery and soft furnishings.
I am drawn to items with pale harmonious colours and have a particular love of Hogben and Susie Watson pieces, as well as a discontinued cottage style crockery set by John Lewis which I collected originally – all three sit happily alongside one another and give the kitchen a cohesive laid back but contemporary country style.
When you moved into your house was it the finished article or was it a project?
When we bought our 1920s cottage it had lost many of its original features. The chimneys had all been removed as well as the bay window at the front and an unsympathetic porch had been tacked on above the door. All of which took away much of the character of the building and I was keen to put some traditional character back into the place. In 2015 we extended the roof pitch by 1.5 meters and made two double bedrooms and a full bathroom in the new roof space.
This became our master suite, with the second double serving as a walk in wardrobe.
The kitchen had already been extended but was a blank canvas and with my love of pastel colours I have tried to create a country cottage vibe with plate racks full of pretty pottery.
What renovation and decorating have you done?
During lockdown my husband decided to build me an art studio next to his office in the garden which has been fabulous. Having my own space to work has been a game changer for my art and hobbies. I didn’t do a huge amount of the hands on stuff but ordered most of the materials, did all the insulating and we both learnt a lot during the build.
During the redecoration of the property I have experimented with various paints for painting furniture and my favourite paint to date would be Frenchic Alfresco which we recently used to paint our front door. We went for Dusky Blush which surprisingly was my hubby's choice! I hadn’t even suggested pink, thinking that it would immediately be vetoed so you can imagine how pleased I was when he suggested it, though I'm sure the neighbours are muttering about, “that poor man forced to have a pink front door”.
Have you had any DIY or styling disasters?
I did paint a number of chairs using an early version of Frenchic Lazy range and those immediately rubbed and chipped and were a total disaster and an expensive one time and cost wise. I have since used the Alfresco range which has never let me down.
What is your top home styling tip?
I think ultimately we have to create a space in which we feel happy. Everyone has different tastes and trying to be something you’re not is pointless. Our house is not always the styled, tidy home in the pictures. More often than not it is hectic, messy and well lived in. My style is quite forgiving in that respect, a little bit of shabby helps hide the bumps and scrapes that are inevitable with a young family and I couldn’t maintain a minimalist white home, nor do I have the time to keep my home perfect. I think we see homes on Instagram and Pinterest and assume that we should live up to that aesthetic, when really a home can be beautiful, busy and functional without having to be a museum to style.
Is there anything in your home that you couldn’t live without?
I’d love to say I could live without the TV but if I’m honest, despite my arty-farty side, I do enjoy some escapism at the end of a busy day when the children are in bed. Now that we have the loft, we have become very used to enjoying a lot of space, which I know will not be the case forever so I suppose there are lots of things that I could live without but I’m so grateful to have them! At the end of the day most of the things in the home are luxuries and really the only things I couldn’t live without are the humans!
They say that every home tells visitors a story about who lives there. What do you think your home says about you?
I think it says that I am a home bird at heart, who surrounds herself with beautiful handcrafted things which feed the soul. I expect it says that I crave order, though often struggle to maintain it. That I have an eye for detail but could spend more time cleaning! I hope ultimately it feels welcoming and warm.
The Home Edit
Lived-in or showhome?
Lived in – for living, showhome when selling.
If you could only paint your walls one colour, which one would it be?
Duckegg blue. I find this the most serene colour in our home and it features in the loft bedroom, right over the sloping ceilings, part of the ensuite and the bedroom in our coastal flat.
What is your pet hate when it comes to your own or other’s homes?
The profusion of plastic which comes with children...
Favourite front door colour
Pastels – I am loving our new pink door.
Carpet or Floorboards
Floorboards ideally engineered with underfloor heating!
Kitchen table dining or formal dining room?
Kitchen table. I grew up in a house with a formal dining room which was only used at Christmas and special occasions while the rest of the year we were crammed in a tight kitchen. I love the kitchen diner in this house but do drool over homes with massive kitchen, living, diners.
High gloss or rustic?
We currently have a high gloss white kitchen which does bounce light around but I am still aiming for a shaker style kitchen as I find the white high gloss look too cold and impersonal.
Wallpaper or Brick Walls?
I think both depending on the setting. However I am terrible at wallpapering and lacking patience so if it was left to me I would paint everything!
If you enjoyed being at home with Juliet, 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
You can catch up with Juliet's instagram account here. It's well worth a look!