This Rustic English Home Has the Coziest Christmas Decor

updated Dec 16, 2019

This Rustic English Home Has the Coziest Christmas Decor

updated Dec 16, 2019
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Name: Kay Prestney, husband Andy, and their children Bella and Finn
Location: Essex/Suffolk border, UK
Years lived in: 9 years

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Freelance interior designer, stylist and self-confessed Scandi junkie Kay Prestney and her family—husband Andy and children Bella and Finn—created the perfect festive feeling in their cozy country home when Apartment Therapy toured her home in 2016. The largely monochrome palette of whites, pale grays, and deepest off-blacks is softened by natural wood and wicker, accessories in ceramic, copper and coloured glass, and plenty of twinkling lights and candles. Wooden floors and rustic wooden benches are warmed up with piles of tactile rugs, sheepskins, cushions and woollen blankets. And, as in any true Scandi-style home, there’s a great sense of connection with the outdoors, with bare branches and garlands of evergreen brought in from the local woodlands and used as decoration.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

Kay has a wonderfully inspiring talent for seeing the potential in unloved pieces and random finds, bringing them back to life with a little creative upcycling and repurposing, and making everything hang together just beautifully. She’s sourced finds from flea markets, reclamation yards and local farms, old pieces from her grandparents’ garage and from Andy’s childhood home, as well as treasures found on her travels, and used them throughout her home in a variety of ways to bring warmth and character.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

While Kay and Andy have transformed the interior style of this 1980s-built home, they decided to keep the original layout as it works so well for their family. The open-plan dining and living space—with the dining table that seats up to fifteen, wood-burning stove and ample seating — is perfect both for family life and for hosting big gatherings of family and friends. Kay simply updated the kitchen, painting the original cupboards and adding new worktops and shelves made from scaffolding planks, which she designed and commissioned a local builder to install. And the children and their friends love how the layout enables them to run in circuits through the kitchen, along the hall and back through into the dining area!

At the time of this tour, Kay and Andy’s main addition to the house had been the creation of a new loft space and mezzanine over the living room, which Kay project-managed. The loft doubles as a den and work space, and is spacious, cosy and filled with light throughout the day—it’s a perfect hang-out space for kids and grown-ups alike. You can find Kay on her gorgeous Instagram feed, and see more of her work on her website.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Nature- and Scandi-inspired modern rustic, with upcycling galore.

Inspiration: I’m inspired by Dutch and Scandinavian design, by my travels, and by the natural world.

Favorite Element: The wide-planked wooden floors.

Biggest Challenge: Making a 1980s modern house feel like a characterful home that reflects our style.

What Friends Say: It always feels welcoming and homely.

Biggest Embarrassment: Guests falling off the scaffolding bench because I haven’t yet got around to securing it onto its wine-box base…

Proudest DIY: Project managing the loft extension — learning what goes on behind a building project and being able to talk about specs, insulation and heat calculations!

Biggest Indulgence: Andy’s Danish sound system. It’s perfect for a big party!

Best Advice: Go with what you love rather than following trends, upcycle where possible, and see the potential for reusing items. Bring the outside in and use natural materials for a sense of calm and timelessness.

Dream Sources: European brocantes; unique handcrafted items from places visited to make the holiday memory part of your everyday life; also — a buying trip to Copenhagen with an unlimited budget for some great Scandinavian timeless design pieces.


Valspar’s Tempest Teapot
Ecos Paints
Farrow & Ball: Borrowed Light, Lamp Room Gray, Downpipe, Strong White

Credit: Cathy Pyle


  • Large chandelier and large wicker lampshade from a vintage antique shop in a converted train station in Belgium.
  • Snug nook created from upcycled packaging crates and an old florist’s worktop.
  • Corner sofa — Ikea.
  • Woodburner — Scan
  • Flooring from a local timber merchant, Thorogoods
  • “After the Disco” print — Rockett St George
  • Ponyskin designer chair on loan from my brother
  • Cupboard — an upcycled junk shop find, painted
  • TV cabinet — an old cupboard – we painted it and removed the back for cables
Credit: Cathy Pyle


  • Bench made from scaffolding planks and wine crates
  • Table is a vintage habitat extendable dining table
  • Wooden drinks cabinet from maternal grandparents’ garage!
  • White cabinet upcycled and painted
  • Grey chest — a painted antique shop buy
  • French Louis XVI chair — a car boot find, reupholsted by me on an upholstery course
Credit: Cathy Pyle


  • Kitchen cupboards were already fitted when we moved in; we repainted them in Farrow & Ball Borrowed Light
  • I made the end unit from an old pallet (my dream kitchen would be Sebastian Cox for DeVOL)
  • Pew from Andy’s mum’s old church, which we painted
  • Pendant light — a reconditioned boot sale find.
Credit: Cathy Pyle


  • Moroccan encaustic tiles sourced from a pop-up souk shop in Bristol
  • 80s vanity unit covered in MDF tongue and groove and painted white
Credit: Cathy Pyle


  • Stable door from a reclamation yard, painted and cut to fit
  • Habitat sofa bed
  • Tree trunk table made from a log and mounted on castors
  • White coffee table bought from a garden nursery in Bristol (now closed down)
  • Ikea Kallax bookshelves
  • Record table is a repurposed Singer sewing machine table
  • Desk — Ikea trestles, top made from an old door from a reclamation yard and sanded down
  • Frostini desk extendable lights from
  • Vintage filing cabinet upcycled by my friend Onitha Jarrold
  • Old linen cupboard from a vintage emporium in Suffolk
  • Mezzanine ballustrade created from an old piece of wood found in a reclamation yard
  • Vintage trunk seat — Andy’s old school trunk with home-made cushions
  • Toy chest by desk — an old French chest found in brocantes in Normandy, to which I added castors
Credit: Cathy Pyle


  • Headboard rescued from a skip and repainted
  • Hanging rail designed and commissioned from a local carpenter
  • Curtains from Ikea
  • Blind homemade from a linen tablecloth
Credit: Cathy Pyle


  • Victoria Plumb bath and sink
  • Washstand designed by me and commissioned from a local carpenter
  • Ilsa Crawford for Ikea cork bench (not pictured)

Thanks, Kay!