When Chrissie Ruker and her husband Nick Wheeler, owner and founder Nick Wheeler, owner and founder of Charle Tyrwhitt menswear, first stepped into the house that was to become their family home, ‘the hall was yellow, the drawing room was turquise with gold leaf and the guest bedroom was dark red’. As the poster girl for all thing white, you’d have though Chrissie would have turned and fled, but no: ‘We both fell instantly in love’ – with the house, if not the colour scheme.
Country people at heat, the couple seized the chance to move to Buckinghamshire when their children were small. ‘We wanted them to have the same kind of freedom we had growing up,’ says Chrissie. Their house provides not just a family home, but also a generously sized garden and stables, which allow Chrissie and her daughters Ella, India and Be a to pursue a passion for riding.
Making it the chic temple to white it is today took time and vision. ‘We moved in and lived with everything for a year,’ says Chrissie, ‘to discover what worked and what we wanted to change. It’s been a gradual process, but using lots of chalk whites and soft greys has made the house feel light, airy and peaceful’.
The house dates back to the 16th century, but was remodelled and extended during the 17th and 18th centuries. ‘The bisect challenge was creating an inviting atmosphere and comfort in rooms with such high ceilings,’ recalls Chrissie.
Rooms are furnished with deep sofas, large armchairs and include gentle shifts in texture to add warmth. in the drawing room, the crafter bronze leaves of the custom-made chandelier and the carved foliage around the fireplace bring a natural element to the space. ‘I often try to find ways to bring the outside in,’ says Chrissie. ‘So as well as architecture and fig trees, I use branches from the garden in vases to instantly refresh a space.’
Antique furniture adds the final touch. ‘Having these darker pieces in the mix creates warmth and contrast says Chrissie. ‘The space still feels modern as the rest of the house is white at heart.’
This is an edited extract from For The Love of White: The White & Neutral Home, published by Mitchell Beasley, £30, from thewhitecompany.com