Real homes: a 15th century mill cottage in the country

This Somerset estate has evolved from a home into studios, a workspace, a communal family hub and the design inspiration for more than six generations

alfresco dining area with florals and linens
(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

 Family is central to the way the Strutts live, and the cornerstone to their inspiration and work. Six generations of Strutts have lived in this picturesque heart of rural Somerset and today three generations live and work together on this ancient, fertile land. 

Designer, author and founder of fashion and homeware store Cabbages & Roses, Christina Strutt was just 24 and a journalist at British Vogue, when Mark – now her husband of 36 years – took her to his grandparents’ estate. 

Read on to find out how they created this dreamy country home, giving it a fresh new look that's right on trend, then browse the rest of our real home transformations. Read our guide on renovating a house, too, for more guidance.

exterior of 15th-century mill cottage in wooded grounds

The old mill cottage (right of photo) is set in hundreds of acres of rolling Somerset hills and woodland. The beautiful summer pavillion was designed and made by Christina’s son Edward, while daughter-in-law Sophie’s tree-house design studio can be seen in the distance hidden under an ancient oak tree 

The home

Owners: Christina Strutt, founder of fashion and homeware store Cabbages & Roses, and husband Mark, a retired land agent, live here. Their son Edward, his wife Sophie and their children also live on the estate.
Property: A Grade II-listed, 15th-century mill cottage, set in hundreds of acres of rolling Somerset hills.
What they did: The main house had been divided in two, so Christina and Mark put it back together, relocating the kitchen. A former pigsty was made into an annexe, where Edward and his family now live.

The wild, expansive gardens and honey-coloured Cotswold stone cottages soon captured the London girl’s heart and the couple moved into the main house when they married in 1980, bringing up their children, Kate and Edward, there.

The estate has gradually evolved to suit the family’s needs. In the mid-1980s, Christina wanted the kitchen space to be the heart of the home, so they decided to uproot it from its original spot and relocate it to the former sitting room. 

The vast kitchen now boasts a large fireplace, an Aga, a long wooden table and dressers groaning with crockery. Find out more about designing a country kitchen in our guide.

kitchen table with view of fireplace and framed prints above

The large kitchen table is the setting for many cosy family gatherings in the winter

The former parlour kitchen was transformed into this snug living room. Vibrant soft furnishings in co-ordinating raspberry pink stripes and florals from Cabbages & Roses create an air of easy comfort, while piles of antique books and interior design volumes, and ancient paintings and prints ensure that there’s always something interesting to look at in this cosy winter den.


(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)


The deep window recess in the living room is the perfect place for a window seat, with pretty cushion fabrics all from Cabbages & Roses

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

More recently their son Edward built the pavilion where the families spend summer evenings sharing food and taking in the sounds of the countryside. The annexe, where he lives with wife Sophie and their children, Frankie and Bobbie, was originally a pigsty but was renovated by Mark in the mid-1990s. If you're inspired by Edward's pavilion, take a look at these 18 beautiful traditional garden room design ideas.

alfresco dining area with florals and linens

This idyllic sitting area is on raised decking and gives a stunning view of the estate

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

alfresco dining area with florals and linens

Surrounded by the wild gardens that inspired so many of Christina’s designs for Cabbages & Roses, the pavilion is the family’s summer living space. The tablecloth is Hatley Pink, one of the company’s trademark faded floral prints, complemented with blousy posies of garden flowers. The chairs and candlesticks are family antiques

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

Edward has a workshop and timber yard within the estate and loves this beautiful setting close to his family. ‘Watching nature and the weather refreshes my mind when I’m working with a tricky piece of wood,’ he says. ‘My heart belongs to this valley and I’m so happy my children can experience it as well.

dresser with vintage crockery

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

Open dresser-style shelves filled with Christina’s pretty china make a decorative feature for this classic country kitchen. Christina buys up bits of china from antiques fairs around the country. Her favourites are Sunbury Antiques Market and The Old Cinema in west London.

vintage chair by fireplace

This cosy nook in the kitchen is the perfect place to settle down with a good book

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

‘I have always believed that homes need to be filled with more than just lovely things. To be really beautiful, they must be lived in, with the things complementing the human stories that run through them.’

flowers with collectables and pictures

The fireplace in the snug is made of reclaimed carved French pine and is packed with quirky flea market finds. Framed paintings and prints complete the look

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

Cabbages & Roses is eccentric, classical English and internationally respected, but nowhere expresses her style more clearly than her own home. ‘I have a deep love of pink, china and old prints, but I don’t believe in deciding on a look and going out to find it; I get drawn to one thing and the room grows organically around it,’ says Christina. 

bedroom with floral bedlinen photos and mirrors

In the master bedroom, antique paintings handed down through the family create a relaxed contrast with the fresh floral and checked linens from Cabbages & Roses 

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

Scouring antiques fairs and junk shops is one of her real pleasures, and there is a magpie nature to the myriad collections both inside and outside. ‘I collect and hoard treasures, which I find difficult to dispose of but they all eventually find a place,’ she adds. If you also love vintage treasures, find out the best way to display your collections in our handy guide. 

bedroom floral mirrors pictures in a mill house

A gothic arch in the master bedroom leads to a dressing room. The curtains are in the company’s Constance Raspberry print

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

loft bedroom with wooden floor

Edward and Mark converted the loft above the workshop several years ago turning this bright space, with its views over the garden and woodland, into a comfortable en-suite bedroom. For similar armchairs, try The French Bedroom Company

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

bedroom with yellow walls and white bedlinen

For the spare room, Christina has chosen fabrics from her range in soft French blue. Walls are in Farrow & Ball’s Babouche

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

exterior dining area

Edward made the table and decking outside the family’s home, a former pigsty. Find more details of Edward’s craft

(Image credit: Solesbury & Worthy)

Words: Hannah Newton

Photography & Styling: Solesbury & Worthy

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Karen Darlow
After a brief foray into music journalism, fashion and beauty, Karen found herself right at home working on interior magazines with her role on Ideal Home magazine. She is now Homes Editor on Period Living magazine and loves the opportunity the job gives her to see how others mix vintage style and modern furnishings in their beautiful properties.