Through the keyhole of the beautiful home bringing Scandinavia style to Scampton
Fragrant lavender and creamy pink roses pave the way to Clara and Mark Trussler’s pretty 19th century village home.
Cosiness and country comforts are usually stitched into the very fabric of your average cottage – it goes with the territory.
And this traditional detached property is no exception, although once inside, leave behind at the garden gate any pre-conceived ideas of it being saturated in chintz and china.
Hares leap on cushions and there’s time-served tweed here and there, but you will also find carefully chosen candles, throws and ceramics synonymous with Scandinavian design culture.
English country chic has been intertwined seamlessly with Clara’s homage to Danish lifestyle craze hygge, resulting in a beautifully styled contemporary family home. It’s relaxed and welcoming, yet sophisticated, courtesy of Clara’s sharp eye for detail.
Long before interior designers latched onto the Danish super-cool hygge lifestyle, Clara had done her homework on the trend. So when the chance came to buy their future family home back in 2007, Clara, a fine art graduate, already had a clear and creative vision which was ahead of its time. Hygge hadn’t hit the headlines back then in the UK.
The mum of two, a keen homemaker, knew she had hit on something exciting and fresh which would breathe new life into the cottage and bring it squarely into the 21st century.
Hygge is often described as creating a mood or feeling, inspired by Scandinavian interiors and a Danish ode to cosy, contented gatherings, characterised by natural materials.
The three-bedroomed Scampton cottage, which dates back to 1887, looked at first sight to the couple like the archetypal country sanctuary, but it was actually in need of much love and attention.
Nonetheless, Clara knew it was the one the minute she set eyes on it, and her hygge house was about to steal her heart.
“When driving through the village, we saw this house for sale and I thought yes, that’s where I want to live,” she said.
“We were living at Sturton by Stow but wanted to be closer to Lincoln. But when our house had sold, this one sold but amazingly came back on the market the next day.
“ I was living in a new-build when we got married and I had said I don’t mind decorating but not major work.
“We practically rebuilt it though, doing a lot of the work ourselves, starting upstairs and sleeping downstairs, doing a room at a time.” she said.
“We stripped all the plasterwork off and took the walls back to brick. There was a lot of damp, too. The living room was all pink, the hall we have now was a shower room and there were pink carpets,” she shudders.
“We took out the gas fires and found behind them original brick arches. It was about getting the house back to its original state.
“That was really important to us, even though there weren’t that many original features. Getting the right things makes you wait for them, it’s worth it.”
Not afraid of taking on what was now obviously such a big project, Clara, 33, and husband Mark, 37, set about tackling what was to become a complete renovation, making it fit for family living again. While Clara was in school as a teaching assistant and Mark worked as a farrier, they did the labour of love whenever they could fit it around their busy full-time schedules.
The living room was once pink.
Now the only pink you will find are peonies or roses from her garden, sitting in a jug on the dining table, or the pastel hues of colourful original artwork hung in the kitchen.
“We like to buy a piece of original artwork on our anniversary,” she said.
“I really appreciate the work of local artists and would rather save up and buy something unique.”
Grey, she confirms, is her favourite colour, and so the muted Farrow and Ball tones she has selected run throughout the cottage, providing the perfect backdrop for her signature accessories.
“I do like a soft grey, and I have chosen colours which I think go well throughout the house. They flow as you walk through. But there’s also a lot of inspiration from the countryside. I like hares and deer – there’s something so elegant about them.”
Upon arrival through the front door, you know immediately that you have arrived somewhere special. Passing through the porch, with a selection of tweed and leather bags hanging on exposed brickwork, you are faced with the only patterned wall in the cottage. It certainly makes a sweeping statement. Leaping hares and country birds adorn the feature hall wall, while the award-winning slate blue ‘Harvest Hare’ wallpaper strikes a vibrant cord.
Clara admits this was one of her more expensive interior indulgences.
Stepping into the large lounge at the heart of this hygge house, you feel as though you have been gently invited to get comfy on one of two dove grey fabric-covered sofas, which provide an immediate focal point. A few spotty and floral cushions in restrained colours break up the grey.
With Farrow and Ball ‘Worsted’ painted walls, the atmosphere is cool and calm, the furnishings almost minimalist in a hygge kind of way.
You want to linger and study each individual piece, sensing Clara has put much thought into use of the space.
“I love our sofas, which are in perfect classic style but in a grey wool fabric which is very current,” he said.
“I’ve been waiting to get some sofas for 9 years, so was very happy when we found these on eBay.”
A Laura Ashley-covered tweed foot stool (by Cara’s own hand) is draped with sheepskin, sitting in front of a wood burner. Across the room, a large squishy brown leather armchair adds texture, and a spray of eucalyptus in a vase brings nature into the room.
Clara points to a small square panelled window behind us.
It’s original and goes through to her kitchen pantry, giving the lounge a further injection of personality. A long distressed-wood bookcase lines a back wall.
The modern country bespoke kitchen, painted pavilion grey by Clara, is also a key social space in her home, and it’s easy to see why.
What was previously an old-fashioned seventies lean-to in a small kitchen is now a light-flooded extension, built by Mark and with both of them having re-tiled the roof.
High slanted windows set in the ceiling reveal clouds scudding across a blue summer Lincolnshire sky and patio doors lead out to a pretty wrap-round garden.
A traditional dresser, painted a soft greeny- grey, houses a small collection of jugs, as well as a series of ceramics made by Clara at evening class.
And at the other side of the kitchen, wellies and Tilly the cocker spaniel’s bed line up under a stable door. Tilly bounds up to the kitchen doors as we chat in the kitchen, and the scene is nothing short of idyllic.
It’s acutely obvious that Clara has a talent for artistic endeavours and she reveals her artistic background: Her father is a stained-glass artist back in her native North Yorkshire.
A love of art permeates her lifestyle.
“Some of my favourite items are the paintings and artwork we own,” she said.
“They each hold a story, and spark memories of special moments. I am also building up a collection of mugs and pottery by a potter called Julia Smith which I love. I tend to get one for my birthday or Christmas each year.”
A few years ago she ran art workshops in schools, so not surprisingly she can turn her hand to most things, making all the blinds and curtains in the cottage, (in a matter of hours no less) and if she’s not busy making or adapting something, she loves nothing better than visiting local antiques fairs. And she loves picking up a bargain.
The hardy parquet floor, which was originally in a school, was snapped up on eBay, a prime example of Clara’s knack in tracking down a good deal. Opposite the modern kitchen units with in-built range cooker, original latch doors painted white, front convenient storage spaces. Above the kitchen cupboards, a wall-mounted crockery holder houses a Denby dinner service, a precious wedding present. And she was delighted to get her hands on a series of Marlborough tiles, which were seconds, their duck-egg blue finish enhancing the wall above the range. Such an eclectic mix epitomises the very essence of Clara’s hygge approach, making good use of what is around her and available, to create a homely sanctuary with minimum fuss or spend where possible.
A wicker shopping basket with fresh flowers peeping out hangs simply between the two latch doors. Dotted around the kitchen are groups of assorted cookbooks, maybe next to a potted herb, or a small bunch of flowers in a jug. Clara loves cooking and baking.
Even the humble wooden chopping board is used to both decorative and practical effect, one hanging casually from a wall, another bearing the weight of hand wash and lotion at the kitchen sink. A nice deep Belfast one by the way, which was being thrown out and so treasure trove to Clara.
“Hygge has suddenly become really popular and people understand it more, this feeling of comfort and enjoying your home surroundings,” she said.
“It’s seen as a winter idea, but it doesn’t have to be about just sitting in front of the fire. You can create a feeling by all adding all the little details.
“I love going into the gardens and gathering a bunch of flowers or going on a walk, picking elderflower and making cordial. It’s all about what’s around you, creating and in many ways going back to basics, having an appreciation of your surroundings.
“For me, hygge in summer is getting together with friends, having a picnic or inviting them over to share a meal and enjoying good conversation.”
Sitting down to play at the dining room piano, previously her grandma’s, fits well into whatever the seasonal scenario, and Clara hopes that children Eliza, 6, and Isaac, 3, may eventually take the instrument up. Another of Farrow and Ball’s grey shades decorate the walls, setting a soft mood in the room. Her grandma’s traditional Singer sewing machine, still well-loved and used, takes pride of place in a recess proving that heritage pieces blend in well with the overall Scandi theme.
There’s an old chest in the corner, while a pine dining table and white chairs are central to the room. Personal effects are carefully added: there’s a framed picture of Fountains Abbey where the couple got engaged and other evocative black and white prints.
Earlier this year, Clara decided to take her interiors hobby a step further, and began selling her brocante finds as a business, calling her on-line shop Hygge and Home, selling through etsy.com. She takes me to a rectangular outbuilding , which they had knocked down and rebuilt.
Again it has Clara’s stamp on it, a stunning workspace straight off the pages of an interiors magazine. A long wooden table, overhung with several industrial lights of differing heights takes centre stage, with a fabric-covered armchair at one corner. A teapot and mug sit perkily on a log stump. The family sometimes take lunch out here. It’s a perfect complement to the cottage.
Wondering if this is a house completed, Clara then admits it can be difficult not to keep adding and changing things here and there from her on-going interior finds.
The style might evolve, but it seems this home will always be a classic.
“I suppose I would say that my style has definitely evolved over the years,” she said.
“For all the main features, however, like the kitchen and the flooring I deliberately chose a classical look that I knew wouldn’t age too quickly and could be altered easily with the times, such as painting the kitchen cupboards.
“I also like the classic styles of furniture as I know they won’t age too quickly. I would say that my choice of paint colours and accessories are the main things that I alter and can be done fairly easily. The overall style of the house is something which happens naturally and I just opt for things that I love rather than run with the current styles or trends. My aim is not to show off what I’m doing but inspire other people with the idea of making home from home.”