Christina Strutt was just 24 when she forsook the high-octane glamour of life as a London journalist, working for British Vogue Living in favour of spending her days at Brook Cottage, once a mill used by Gregorian monks, in Somerset, southwest England.
This was the apotheosis of the fantasy lifestyle that she had, for so long, promoted in the magazine. The departure – both physically and symbolically – represented a marked transition, in the exchange of not only the single life for the married, but also of the urban for the bucolic. While it was neither deliberate nor conscious at the time, the trade-in of Vogue House for something more deep-rooted and resonant in the rolling Somerset hills would ultimately re-angle the spotlight, training it in the direction of her own home. Cabbages & Roses would, after all, one day emerge as the very expression of her life at Brook Cottage.
The table, positioned in the shade under the gazebo, is covered with a Hatley tablecloth, its design inspired by the surrounding natural world. It is set off with fresh flowers picked from the very garden that was the catalyst for Cabbages & Roses.
The kitchen – in Christina’s words, the “hub of the house” – was once the parlour. The exchange of the two rooms makes perfect sense, with its large table, the kitchen is now sizeable enough to accommodate friends and family.
There can be little more heavenly than a window seat on which to while away a rainy afternoon with a good book and a procession of cups of tea. This seat, all pale pinks and barely there greens, invites you to succumb to its uncomplicated prettiness.
The bedroom speaks of softness and calm – if the studio and kitchen are hotbeds of activity, this is their balancing rejoinder. The high bed is dressed beautifully with Christina’s favoured checks and faded flowers.
There can be little more pleasing than the sight of rosebuds adorning the walls of this country bathroom. As with the rest of the house, the pervading freshness is key, with white as the dominant tone. But, unlike most bathrooms, visitors will find nothing sterile here. There is plenty to look at, from the antique bath stand stacked with fresh towels to the framed landscapes on the walls.
Living Life Beautifully by Christina Strutt, words by Nancy Alsop, photographs by Simon Brown. Published by CICO Books at £25.00, and available from all good bookshops. Alternatively, please call 01256-302699 quoting GLR 9OI to purchase a copy at the special price of £18.00 including free p&p. For further information, please visit www.cicobooks.co.uk.