Comfort was key for Jorun Inghilleri when she was choosing a scheme for the home she shares with husband Jean-Emile in Larvik, Norway. Their house is furnished with beautiful antiques, and their exciting use of rich colours gives it an informal, lived-in feel that is in contrast to the traditional Norwegian style that Jorun was brought up with.

Her love of all things French is down to husband Jean-Emile. His Gallic influence is obvious throughout their home, especially in the kitchen, with its display of French accessories that Jorun has collected over the years. ‘I like the feeling I get in old French houses. Things don’t have to be fine or posh, as long as they match, which is something that I have tried to incorporate into my own home,’ says Jorun.

Project notes

  • Owners: Jorun Inghilleri, a designer, and her husband, Jean-Emile
  • Property: A Swiss-style house in Larvik, Norway, built in 1919
  • Essential repairs: The couple fitted new flooring, restored the original windows, added wooden panelling and updated the décor throughout the house
  • Layout: The house was split into two flats, so the layout needed to be reworked. An upstairs kitchen became an impressive new bathroom, while the ground-floor bathroom was turned into a kitchen-diner. The original library is now a bright dining area with an archway

Kitchen in Norwegian cottage
The colour for the kitchen cabinets was inspired by a bench the couple found in the house, and the white dresser was specially made by a cabinetmaker. Jorun bought the dining table at an auction and the brown chairs are from De Bournais. The blinds are made from a Ralph Lauren fabric

French influence

‘Of course, to be truly French-inspired, there must be a few crazy elements, too,’ she continues. ‘I love to include surprises in any interior design scheme, such as tying branches to our bedroom chandelier to bring the feeling of nature inside. I don’t really stick to design trends; instead, I have focused on decorating our home in a way that I think is right for the house and for us.’

Living room details in Norwegian cottage
Jorun picked up the antique chandelier in Sweden

Restoring original windows

When the couple bought the house in 1975, no major work had been done to it for around 70 years. It had been a home for two families, with a kitchen and bathroom on the ground floor and the first floor. The décor was brown and heavy, but rows of windows bathed the house in natural light from early morning until late evening throughout the summer months.

In order to preserve the natural appearance of the house, the couple decided to restore the original windows. ‘It was important for us to keep them, despite the draught. The windows are the eyes of the house, and the light looks amazing filtered through the old glass, so we are more than happy to put on extra clothing to keep warm,’ says Jorun.

Bathroom in Norwegian cottage


The bathroom is where the first-floor kitchen once was, with a pantry inside the arch. The limestone floor tiles are from Fired Earth

Altering the layout

The living room is now much lighter and the original herringbone ceiling and wood panelled walls suit Jorun and Jean-Emile’s furnishings perfectly. An old library space at the back of the room has been converted into their dining room.

The interior layout of the property has also been changed to suit the couple’s needs. The kitchen on the first floor has been turned into a spacious bathroom, while the original bathroom on the ground floor was completely overhauled to make space for a large kitchen and dining area.

Living room in Norwegian cottage
Above left: 
A statement chandelier adds a touch of history to the living room. The original ceiling has herringbone wooden panels and the walls feature extra-wide horizontal panelling. The clay-coloured paint on the ceiling and walls is Timian, by Jotun, while the cushions are from Riis Interiør

Interior design

Colourful floor tiles now dominate the ground floor, along with touches of turquoise – partly inspired by France and also as a nod to the home’s original features. One of the first things Jorun and Jean-Emile did was to lay the red and white floor tiles in the kitchen – an idea Jorun took from the Claude Monet house near Paris. The turquoise kitchen was an unconventional choice at the time. ‘It is 20 years old and the colour was considered insane when we had it fitted,’ she says. ‘But there were originally some similarly painted low benches in the room, so we see it as the house’s colour. That is why we’ve used a similar shade in the living room.’

Glasses in Christmas Norwegian cottage
Vintage crystal glasses and fir twigs create a festive atmosphere

Christmas at the cottage

As Christmas approaches, most Norwegian homes smell of ‘Ribbe’, a traditional pork rib dish, but here you’re more likely to smell fresh flowers, spruce and spicy incense. The couple’s traditional red decorations were packed away in the 1980s and today Jorun uses more natural elements – flowers, fir twigs and candles – for a classic festive look.

‘Our way of celebrating Christmas is probably not traditionally Norwegian,’ she says. ‘We have turkey on Christmas Eve at my son’s house and invite family and friends round for a glass of wine over the season. A crisp, white linen tablecloth is always laid on the table and I make sure that there are cakes out all the time, so that we have something tasty to offer should anyone drop in.’ On Boxing Day, the entire family gathers around a big table in the living room, laid with delicious cheeses, ham, wines and champagne.

‘There are a few things that are always part of our Christmas, such as an old sausage tin with a pig on it, in which I serve cookies or butter, and a vintage wooden pretzel from an old bakery, hung in the kitchen window,’ Jorun adds. ‘You don’t need many decorations to create a lovely atmosphere, but white tablecloths, candles and lots of flowers are absolutely crucial. Of course, great food, wine and champagne always make a good party.’

Get the look

Pair classic furniture with warm accessories to re-create Jorun and Jean-Emile’s schemes.

Restored antique chandelier from Fritz Fryer

Chandelier

Fritz Fryer’s fully restored antique waterfall and bag crystal design, circa 1900, is silver-plated, clear-lacquered and ready to install, £5,400. 

Wallpaper

Adding the illusion of height to a low ceiling, this GP&J Baker wide Valentino stripe wallpaper is accentuated with a gold spot, £79 per roll from Fabrics & Papers.

Valentino stripe wallpaper from GP&J Barker
Whitby porcelain tile from Fired Earth

Tiles

Create the perfect entrance with a beautiful hallway tiled in this Whitby porcelain tile, £84.90 per m2 from Fired Earth

Console table

Crafted by hand, this Warm wooden console table, £469 from Out There Interiors, has been antiqued for an authentic French finish. 

Wooden console table from Out There Interiors
Caoekka fabric from Linwood

Fabric

The Capella fabric collection from Linwood offers subtle designs including this classic leaf print, shown in cream, £45.50 per m. 

Wreath

Hang the Sainsbury’s Classical wreath with red berries, cinnamon sticks and fir cones indoors at a window for extra decoration, £20. 

Sainsburys classical wreath
Victorian cut-glass decanter from Lavish Shoestring

Decanter

Keep seasonal spirits fresh with this bell-shaped Victorian cut-glass decanter with a large mushroom stopper, £49.99, Lavish Shoestring

Chair

This Egerton Carver mahogany dining chair features a dark stained finish and curved Louis XV cabriole legs, £948 from Oficina Inglesa

Egerton Carver dining chair from Oficina Inglesa
Dirty Orange cushion from Oka

Cushion

Seen here in Dirty Orange, cosy up this Christmas with a velvet cushion cover, £45 from Oka.

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