Jade Beer, Editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Brides and author of two novels, The Almost Wife and What I Didn’t Say, gives a glimpse into her life away from Vogue House
Where do you live and why?
In a very small village called Lower Swell in the North Cotswolds with my husband and two daughters, aged 10 and four. We have one pub, a village hall and no shop – that’s it. We moved here from London nearly four years ago and it was the best thing we ever did. We were that couple who spent endless weekends and money having mini breaks to the countryside, then feeling the gloom descend on the drive back in to London on Sunday afternoons. After a series of little moves, starting in Putney, then Wimbledon, then the Surrey borders, we finally did what deep down we knew we always wanted to.
What’s the first thing that you did to your home when you moved in?
Argued over the bedrooms. The natural master suite is on the ground floor, which clearly was destined for my husband and I and not, as she thought, my eldest daughter – who was six at the time. There are two bedrooms on the first floor that share a lovely Jack and Jill bathroom that are the perfect girl zone for our two daughters. Once that argument was finally settled, we converted an out building into a play room so they had an adult-free zone to call their own.
Describe your front door…
It’s painted Cotswold Green, of course, and is home to a rack of muddy wellies and proper glass milk bottles from our local dairy. It’s actually rarely used as everyone piles into the house through double French doors that lead from the garden into the open plan kitchen.
I lived in the same house my entire childhood and only left to go to university. It was a very small three-bedroom house in a cramped housing estate in Bristol, which is probably why I place such a value on having space around me and my family now. “
What’s at the bottom of your garden?
There are three foot holes in the stone wall that were used by the original occupants to gain access to the country estate that the house backs on to. Our house was built by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1925 and is believed to have belonged to the chauffeur of the estate owner.
What are some of the most memorable things which have happened in your home?
It’s where I signed and celebrated my double book deal with a bottle of Ruinart pink champagne. It’s where I dressed my youngest daughter for her first day at school and where I’ve watched my eldest achieve major (for a ten-year-old!) sporting success. But it’s also where I’ve sat with my tearful mum, comforting her after she lost my grandmother and it’s from where we have had some horrendous middle-of-the-night dashes to hospital, because when did children ever chose a convenient time to be ill?
What was your childhood home like?
I lived in the same house my entire childhood and only left to go to university. It was a very small three-bedroom house in a cramped housing estate in Bristol, which is probably why I place such a value on having space around me and my family now. My parents had a very traditional relationship. My dad went to work, my mum looked after me and my two brothers. She was an expert at stretching the pile of notes he gave her every week – her ‘housekeeping’ as they referred to it. She never missed a single thing I did throughout my school years. My dad built all the wooden cabinets in our kitchen, my mum cooked every meal from scratch. It was blissfully happy, despite the lack of money, and the day they left me at university halls was one of the saddest of my life to this day. My parents no longer live in that house but I go out of my way to drive past it when I am back in Bristol. It makes me feel a bit lost to look at it now – all the emotional connection has gone.
How has life changed since you moved out of London to the Cotswolds?
I spend a lot more time on trains – about three hours a day – since I still work in London. But the plus sides are more than worth it. I can now take myself off on a five-mile run and not see another person and I watch the new movie releases at my village hall where they serve a cheese board and homemade soup on cinema nights. I can walk up the road to our local farm and watch lambs being born every April, collecting fresh eggs while I’m at it, and from May to August I can take my pick of any number of village fetes every weekend. I spend far more time in the pub and far too much money at Daylesford. When I go walking in this area, I know without doubt that this is where I want to be. It makes me feel immeasurably happy to suck in lungfuls of fresh air and watch my children run around like they are super-charged.
What’s your domestic guilty secret or pet hate?
I haven’t ironed anything for about 10 years and I think most things can be cleaned perfectly well with a baby wipe. I hate nic-naks – I’d rather look at bare shelves than mindless clutter.
What’s on your bedside table?
A large pile of books that currently include: Us by David Nicholls, Together by Julie Cohen and Aftermath by Rachel Cusk. Plus, a bottle of Bamford Botanic Pillow Mist (I am an incredibly light sleeper and find it very hard to switch off at night time); a Matthew Williamson English Garden candle and, in the morning, a mug of builder’s tea and a digestive biscuit. I don’t get out of bed until this is finished, regardless of who is screaming or needs attention!
I do feel a huge sense of comfort at the sight of a full wine fridge.”
What makes your house a home?
The smell of my husband cooking pancakes for everyone on a Sunday morning, which we all sit at the table in front of the kitchen wood stove and eat together. A pretend tea party with my four-year-old on the lounge floor at 6am. Reading in bed with my eldest daughter on weekend mornings. And I do feel a huge sense of comfort at the sight of a full wine fridge.