Renovating A Country Home

Ellen and Dean Barker want to renovate their rural family home on a budget. Cracking Antiques shows you and them how.

In this episode, Interior designer Kathryn Rayward and antiques expert Mark Hill step in to help Ellen and Dean Barker from Lincolnshire as they renovate their rural family home on a budget.

Mark and Kathryn show them how to successfully source and spruce up antiques and vintage furniture, culminating in a truly stunning contemporary country living room to rival those in glossy style magazines.


This style is considered to be more of an attitude or approach rather than a specific period as such. French provincial furniture was a rural adaptation of the more ornate styles found in Paris during King Louis XV’s reign. There were a lot of differences between these styles and some of the styles found in other parts of France, such as those closer to the mediterranean. Eventually the provincial style melded with the rest of the rural farmhouse styles across France and became known as French Country Style.

The values of a country style are to create a rustic manor where you can escape the rush and demands of a hectic lifestyle. For this reason, it makes sense that there is an emphasis on natural materials. However, a luxury country chic style adds some richness to the colour palette and items from different historical eras are encouraged, so long as they aren’t overly fussy and don’t detract from the natural, welcoming appeal of this style.


As you saw from the episode (click here for full details of the items mentioned), some key things that you can do to achieve this look are:

1. Use solid, sturdy furniture made from natural materials and with clean lines. The furniture you choose should be solid and sturdy. In the show, the Barkers purchased an antique oak cabinet. Other natural woods you could consider are walnut and mahogany. Pine is often used for a country feel but a word of caution – if you are using antique collectibles to create a luxury country feel, you may discover that pine is too light a wood. The main thing is to avoid embellishments and select furniture that is rustic, durable and has clean lines.

2. Go for warmth and comfort where possible. Warmth and comfort is part of what makes the country style so inviting. Sinking into a chesterfield sofa or a simple soft leather chair is what it’s all about. Sofas, as we saw on the show, are often used, usually high-backed and again with very clean lines.

3. Create a contrasting colour palette of earthy tones mixed with both light and bold colours. A luxury country chic style is all about balance. In the show, the Barkers’ house was decorated with solid, dark wooden furniture, and the floors and walls were light pink and green respectively. The furniture and furnishings also had some more vivid accents like purple and green. The overall effect was not clashing – the solid, wood furniture all in the same colour created consistency, the lighter colours in the palette were repeated or echoed each other and the rich, bolder colours were used sparingly.

4. Add sophistication through fabrics and accessories. One of the criticisms levelled at country home decorating is that it can look kitsch if taken to the extreme. Luxurious country chic is about using quality fixtures in your home, be they antiques, reproductions or handmade products. In the show, items like vintage, brass-framed antique paintings, painted crockery and antique trims on curtains added sophistication. Whatever you use, remember not to choose anything that is too embellished or ornate. Customising cushions or sofas as was done on the show, is one way to ensure that you are getting it right.

5. Avoid kitsch and keep it balanced. This style is all about getting back to basics so don’t get too carried away with the country theme. A rooster figurine or painting might be fine in one room but if that’s all you use, the look will be kitschy, cluttered and anything but elegant and welcoming.


3. (Search term: ‘french country’, ‘french provincial’)


Oak cabinet
999 pounds $1,668.13
Marks & Spencers

Oak desk
499 pounds $833.48
Marks & Spencers

Chesterfield sofa
2359 pounds $3,940.24
Sofa Workshop

299 pounds $499.42
John Lewis

Bespoke leather chair
3900 pounds $6,514.17


Cushion material
200 pds $334.06

Blue & white ceramics
35 pds $58.43
Lincolnshire antique fair

Blue & white platter
28 pds $46.74
Lincolnshire antique fair

Vintage trim
120 pds $200.33
Catherine Shinn

Curtains & blinds
720 pds $1,201.97

Lamp shade
17.50 pds $29.21
Lincolnshire antique fair

824 pds $1,375.59

Antique cushion
75 pds $125.20
Catherine Shinn

Antique chairs & seat pads
329 pds $549.23
Lincolnshire antique fair

Antique oak cabinet
300 pds $500.82
Lincolnshire antique fair

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