25 Beautiful Homes

25 Beautiful Homes

On a lighter note, All things white and wonderful reign supreme in this once uninspiring property in Surrey

Janet Parrella-van den Berg’s love of all things white and vintage has turned a once dreary house into a bright, inviting space
25 Beautiful Homes
1 Aug 2017
Feature Naomi Jones | Photography Robert Sanderson
Louis chairs with faded prints and fraying hems; well-worn ballet slippers with dusty soles; and stacks of much-thumbed books tied up with old letters in intriguing bundles are just some of the pieces that make Janet Parrella-van den Berg’s surrey home unique. ‘I’m drawn to anything old, pre-loved, patinated and faded,’ says the interior designer, who also owns a vintage emporium, White & Faded. ‘I love anything with an obvious history. i like to imagine who sat in the tired but still elegant chair or who wrote with the beautiful cursive script in those precious missives.’
Using subtly different shades of white on walls, ceilings, floors and even furniture, Janet transformed the interior of her period house in the Surrey suburbs into a backdrop for her beloved collections. ‘My parents prefer more traditional antiques,’ she says, ‘and as a teenager I wasn't keen on all that darkness. We were allowed to sit on and use the furniture, but it was a bit like growing up in a museum. so my first place was hyper modern, white and cream.’
Janet felt this sleek style was missing something, however, so she decided to start painting antique furniture. ‘this was 1987, and i didn’t know of anyone else doing it at the time,’ she recalls. My father was horrified. “How can you paint it?” he’d ask. i told him: “i don’t like it dark, but i love it painted white.”

DESIGN ADVICE ‘Display items in line at the same height, and stick to a colour story – for instance, whites with whites’

husband Dino, a marketing executive, first needed to rid their new home of its dingy interior, along with a woodworm infestation, and reinstate much of the period features that had been ripped out by past owners. ‘When we removed the rotten carpets, opened up the two reception rooms, and took out a wall upstairs between a shower and a bathroom to create a more spacious scheme, we realised just how much this house needed our love and attention,’ recalls Janet. ‘So, as well as sourcing replacement fireplaces, ceiling roses and cornices, we restored the panelling, and had the existing woodwork treated.’
But this was not simply a restoration project: the house sorely needed more space to make it work for the family. ‘Our three boys have now left home, but we still have the girls, Tabitha, 21, and Serafina, 14, living with us,’ says Janet. ‘So we designed a side extension that would give us an en-suite bathroom and dressing room upstairs, along with an office and a studio for me on the ground floor.’
The couple also transformed an old office into a pretty laundry room. ‘It leads from the entrance hall to the kitchen, so it gives a better flow to the house,’ says Janet, who also had big plans for the kitchen. ‘ We put in French doors, replaced the skylights, and refitted the whole room with beautiful flooring, new units and worktops and a large island. This space is great in summer; we open up the doors and enjoy the fresh air, or head outside for a barbecue.’
Her home may have needed a complete overhaul, but it was clearly worth it, and it seems to be an extension of Janet herself, in its elegant yet unpretentious style. ‘My husband works in Switzerland during the week,’ she says, ‘so it’s good to have somewhere comfortable for him to come home to. But when I’m here with just the girls, we don’t feel like we’re rattling around; it suits us very well indeed.’
DESIGN ADVICE ‘Inject warmth into a predominantly white scheme by adding a variety of textures, such as wood, velvet and linen, and team with accessories in beige, cream, taupe and soft pastels’

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