a dream comes true

How a woman’s longdis­tance love af­fair with a semi in West Sus­sex be­came a re­al­ity

25 Beautiful Homes - - NEWS - Fea­ture An­drea Childs | Pho­tog­ra­phy david Wool­ley

Once a week, on her way to the su­per­mar­ket, He­lene Mor­ris would slow down as she drove past a prop­erty she had fallen in love with. ‘It ticked all the boxes,’ she says. ‘Not only is it close to work, it’s Vic­to­rian, set back from the road and has a pretty white façade. I never thought that I’d ac­tu­ally ever get to look in­side, let alone buy it.’

He­lene owns two fash­ion and life­style bou­tiques in West Sus­sex. One day, when chat­ting to a cus­tomer, He­lene found that the she lived in the house. ‘Over time we be­came friends – not just be­cause of where she lived – and I was of­ten in­vited for din­ner,’ ex­plains He­lene. ‘In­side was just as beau­ti­ful as I’d imag­ined. It has an im­pos­ing cen­tral stair­case that blew me away, and I loved the height and pro­por­tion of the rooms.’ Some time later, her friend got di­vorced and the house went on the mar­ket. ‘The cir­cum­stances were ob­vi­ously dif­fi­cult for her, but I also knew this was an op­por­tu­nity not to be missed. I said to my boyfriend, Robin, “I want that house!”’ Thank­fully, the sale went through with­out a hitch and the cou­ple, along with He­lene’s chil­dren, Clau­dia and Ge­orge, moved in.

Much as she loved her new home, He­lene wanted to make im­me­di­ate changes, and even booked a dec­o­ra­tor to come on the day the keys were handed over. ‘I got him to take out the wall units in the kitchen and paint the re­main­ing oak cup­boards black,’ she ex­plains. ‘I couldn’t live with them as they were for even a day.’ The kitchen sums up

He­lene’s blend of pe­riod and con­tem­po­rary pieces, mixed with quirky de­sign ideas, which is why she re­placed the ceil­ing spot­lights with an el­e­gant teardrop crys­tal chan­de­lier. ‘It’s great when a room has a sur­pris­ing fea­ture. This light isn’t very kitcheny, which is why it works so well in here.’

That sense of the un­ex­pected is car­ried through to the ad­ja­cent din­ing room, where she has cre­ated a fu­sion of kitchen and din­ing el­e­ments for a less for­mal feel. So, along­side a ta­ble with legs on cas­tors, there’s a butcher’s block and vin­tage in­dus­trial shelf unit, plus el­e­gant displays of dec­o­ra­tive pieces.

‘Although we spend most of our time in the kitchen, my favourite space is the sit­ting room,’ says He­lene. ‘It’s so much larger than the one in our pre­vi­ous house. In fact, I had to buy more fur­ni­ture to fill it. The so­fas are new, but other pieces come from the lo­cal an­tiques mar­ket. I buy things not know­ing where they will go, then have fun re­ar­rang­ing the fur­ni­ture un­til I get the look I want.’

The house is dec­o­rated in a mono­chrome pal­ette, ex­cept for the mas­ter bed­room, which is painted grey. ‘I love the dark aes­thetic of this space, but it’s not one I can live with in ev­ery room,’ ex­plains He­lene. ‘It works here be­cause it’s so cosy.’ To keep the look clut­ter-free, none of the bed­rooms have a wardrobe. ‘In­stead, we use the fourth bed­room as a dress­ing room, where we have in­di­vid­ual rails for our clothes.’ It’s clever style so­lu­tions like this, plus the char­ac­ter and charm He­lene has cre­ated, which make her home such a spe­cial place.

KITCHEN ‘Retro ac­ces­sories dis­played on mod­ern cabi­netry cre­ate pe­riod charm,’ says He­lene. The Gi­ant Elec­tric clock, £350, new­gate. Feather duster, from £22, labour and Wait. vin­tage scales, £225, The squash Court

SIT­TING ROOM Over­sized pieces match the room’s grand pro­por­tions. Artemide Tolomeo floor lamp, £ 490, Pa­per rooms. Juju hat feather wall hang­ing, £195, rock­ett st Ge­orge. Mir­ror, from a se­lec­tion, swag An­tiq

Din­ing room ‘I mixed metal and wood to cre­ate an in­dus­trial chic scheme,’ says He­lene. archibald mango wood ta­ble, £600, Maisons du Monde, is a match. for sim­i­lar shelves try a baker’s trol­ley, £500, atkins & thyme

mas­ter bed­room A grey pal­ette cre­ates a cosy space. Bow bed, £ 499, is sim­i­lar; kartell com­poni­bili cab­i­net, £100; orig­i­nal Btc Hec­tor ta­ble lamp, £159; all John lewis

bath­room ‘I haven’t touched this space as I loved the deep bath with the mar­ble sur­round,’ says He­lene. rose & Grey has a se­lec­tion of retro mir­rors, from £59

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