Cristina & Paolo’s Light & Lovely Cotswold Home

published Feb 8, 2015
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(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Name: Cristina Colli
Location: Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 3 and a half years; Rented

Cristina Colli’s home that she shares with husband Paolo, and cats Cleo and Sid, sits nestled just below the high street of bustling Cotswold market town Chipping Norton (or Chippy, as it’s known to the locals). Cristina and Paolo arrived here three years ago after spending time in Dublin and their native Italy, and although their home is rented, they’ve done everything they can to make the space their own. As a former interior designer, and now working as a freelance still life stylist and photographer, Cristina has turned her styling skills with perfection to her home, creating an interior that is beautiful in its simplicity and serenity.

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Light floods into the open plan living-dining area from windows at front and back. (Image credit: Cathy Pyle)
(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Cristina is a fan of “slow living” — taking the time to savour the moment, to notice the details and to appreciate the beauty all around us — and you can feel how truly she lives by this, in the tranquil, dreamy home she has created. The space is filled with a mix of streamlined white pieces from Ikea and softer, often more colourful, hand painted vintage pieces sourced from auctions, charity shops and flea markets. Cristina’s fine art photographic prints are displayed on the walls, alongside carefully created vignettes composed of little treasures from nature – feathers, birch bark, moss and twigs – which she changes with the seasons. Oh, and flowers … everywhere there are the most beautiful flowers. “Flowers make me happy, it wouldn’t feel like home without flowers and plants,” Cristina says.

Downstairs, there’s an open-plan living and dining room, with windows at both front and back, which allow light to stream in throughout the day. The satin-white walls and white furniture bounce the light around further, so that even on the overcast, freezing-cold winter’s day when I visited, the space was filled with light. At the front is a seating area with a large sofa and chaise longue from Ikea which have been customised with chrome frames, and a bespoke coffee table custom made to Cristina’s own design. Behind the sofa, there’s a low storage unit and a white Ikea table with antique wooden chairs, which overlook the small garden at the back.

Upstairs, there’s a tranquil master bedroom — where Sid snores gently behind the pillows — and two rooms used as home offices by Cristina and Paolo. In Cristina’s, a collection of photographic prints is displayed using bulldog clips and washi tape.

You can see more of Cristina’s styling and photography work and fine art prints on her website.

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I love simple, uncluttered interiors with a mix of contemporary, minimal furniture with a few vintage and antique pieces.

Inspiration: Scandinavian and French interiors. I’m also hugely inspired by nature; the little still life displays in the glass frames are all natural finds from walks in the local woods, and are lovely reminders to me of those walks.

Favorite Element: The painting in the living room, which was from a B&B we stayed in when we were house hunting in the area. I fell in love with it and asked the owner, who had painted it, if it was for sale — and we were in luck!

Biggest Challenge: Living with the flooring, which isn’t what I’d choose; if I had the choice I’d go for wooden floors, either in a natural light-coloured birch, or painted white. And secondly, the way the cats scratch all the furniture!

What Friends Say: It’s a calm and soothing interior which invites you to relax.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably living with the kitchen and bathroom which are not at all the style that I’d choose myself!

Proudest DIY: The cabinet which was bought for about £10 from a charity shop in Oxford in a sad state of mildew and disrepair. Now, having had the legs fixed, the back replaced, and having painted it and fitted a light inside, it’s a favourite piece.

Biggest Indulgence: The antique dining chairs which we had restored and reupholstered in natural linen.

Best Advice: What I call “slow decorating”, in other words, take your time when putting your interior together. Don’t buy things all at once in a set — buy only things you love, live with them for a while, and then choose something else that will go with them. And a second piece of advice can help with spatial planning: use masking tape to mark out the outline of potential furniture purchases on the floors, to help you visualise the space.

Dream Sources: I’d like to be able to buy from local sources from across the world, and would also love to design my own bespoke pieces and have them made by local craftsmen.

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Resources of Note:


  • All walls painted in Dulux satin white.


  • Ethnic rug -bought online


  • Sofa and chaise longue from Ikea; we changed the wooden legs for a chrome frame
  • Bespoke cover for chaise longue from BEMZ
  • Cushions (feather and line patterns) from Mabel & Bird
  • Throws, from Ikea and local interior shops
  • Painting – Melanie Dew
  • Tall lamp from a charity shop
  • Bookcase from Ikea
  • Coffee table, custom-made from Cristina‘s own design using salvaged wooden boards
  • Uashmama paper bags (used as magazine and plant holders) from The Future Kept
  • Pillar candle and tea light holders from Cox and Cox
  • On the chest: Jug from Loaf, Square candle holders from Nordic House, Tray from a local interior shop
  • Display cabinet from a charity shop, painted with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Henriette
  • Curtain rail and curtains from Ikea


  • Low storage unit from Ikea
  • Lamp from
  • Table from Ikea
  • Antique chairs – bought on ebay, reupholstered in natural linen, and restored
  • Slatted back chair from an auction
  • Box shelves – repurposed wine boxes, painted with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Pure White
  • Milk bottle, also painted in Annie Sloan Pure White
  • Collection of vintage bottles from flea markets
  • Trio of glass frames from Cox and Cox
  • Artwork – Cristina‘s own fine art photography
  • Curtain rail and curtains from Ikea


  • Bed, chest of drawers, and paper lampshade all from Ikea
  • Chinese bedside table from Achica
  • Bedside lamps made from rock salt, bought in Dublin
  • Artwork – Cristina‘s own fine art photography print
  • Willow heart over the bed from a local willow weaver
  • Bird garland by Evie and Birdie


  • Desk, storage units, anglepoise lamp all from Ikea
  • Chair from an auction
  • Giclée prints Cristina‘s own
  • Small wooden drawers on the desk and wooden folding table – both from Ikea and painted in Annie Sloan chalk paint in Pure White
  • Calendar by Philippa Stanton
(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Thanks, Cristina and Paolo!

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