Christina Strutt founded her company Cabbages & Roses 10 years ago – before vintage became a buzzword and florals bloomed all over the high street. So Strutt began hand-printing her own gentle, old-fashioned, patterned fabrics, and developing lines of feminine clothing and rustic furnishings.
Her house, near Bath in Somerset, has in many ways been at the heart of the business: it is where the company began, with Strutt hand-printing her very first design there and running the initial mail-order service from her kitchen. "Our house was already decorated like that – most of the fabrics were from vintage fairs and junk shops," explains the 54-year-old. "But there was not so much of that stuff around; it was a real gap in the market."
It is perhaps hardly surprising that she likes to work from home, given that home is a 600-year-old (L-shaped) stone cottage. Her husband inherited it from his grandparents, and Strutt has lived there for 30 years. The house has its own personality, all thick walls, open fires and low ceilings. "The rooms dictate what they'll take," she says. "It has its own character – it doesn't do minimalism."
The house is still very much her creative space. Even now, when Strutt also has a London flat and office, not to mention a tree house in the garden built by her husband, she still doesn't like to work anywhere but on her enormous, market-bought kitchen table. "It's the only place where I really get peace and quiet."
The higgledy-piggledy style of the rooms, the emphasis on pattern, and a certain eccentric farmhouse charm is reflected in her company's wares. And she even admits to redecorating rooms just to find a home for her designs. "It's heaven being able to decorate with your own materials," she says. "Sometimes, when something new comes along, you can't resist. But I think one's take on one's house evolves anyway. Two years ago, we wanted everything to be white – the yellow wall in the spare bedroom is a reaction to that."
Looking at her walls, it seems more is more when it comes to pictures, too: "We inherited a lot of pictures, a real mishmash, and I can't do naked walls," she explains. "I tend to like too much – and that goes for everything."
A third branch of Cabbages & Roses opens at 4 Avery Row, London W1 this month