dream dis­cov­ery

Con­rad and Karen Allen stepped into the un­known when they upped sticks and moved their young fam­ily to the Cor­nish coast


Long­ing to live by the sea, a fam­ily found just what they were look­ing for on the Cor­nish coast

Con­rad and Karen Allen had al­ways loved the rugged­ness of the north Corn­wall coast, but it wasn’t un­til they were look­ing for sec­ondary schools for their sons, Os­car, 15, and Noah, 13, that they de­cided to move there. ‘For years we talked about liv­ing by the sea­side but never did any­thing about it un­til our son didn’t get into any of the schools we wanted near where we lived in north Lon­don,’ ex­plains free­lance fash­ion brand con­sul­tant Con­rad.

‘We didn’t know this part of Corn­wall at all; we were orig­i­nally look­ing at St Ives but got gazumped on a prop­erty at the last minute.’ Luck­ily, soon af­ter, an es­tate agent called with a place for sale near Bude, and it was love at

first sight. ‘I knew the farm­house was just per­fect for us, so we went ahead and bought it.’

Set on seven acres of land, the prop­erty in­cluded two di­lap­i­dated barns, and the cou­ple set about ren­o­vat­ing The Red Barn straight away so they could rent it out. The sec­ond barn, The Cob, is also now a hol­i­day let (venn-farm.co.uk). ‘These build­ings were part of the ap­peal of the house,’ says Con­rad.

With the help of Con­rad’s fa­ther, a re­tired ar­chi­tect, the Al­lens also did some ini­tial work on their own house, adding a new hall with a built-in of­fice area and knock­ing down a wall to make the sit­ting room larger. Then, in 2013, they com­mis­sioned ar­chi­tects Feilden Fowles, who were be­hind the ren­o­va­tion of The Cob, to de­sign an ex­ten­sion to house a kitchen-diner/ fam­ily room and up­stairs bath­room.

‘We’d seen a home that they’d de­signed for my sis­ter’s friend in Wales and ab­so­lutely loved it, so that’s why we chose them,’ says Con­rad. ‘Be­fore, the kitchen was nar­row, dark and poky, so we wanted some­thing that re­ally let in the light. I en­joy cook­ing and now there’s a bright, so­cia­ble space for friends and fam­ily to gather while I pre­pare meals.’

As you would ex­pect from a cou­ple who work in fash­ion and re­tail, Con­rad and Karen, who is a brand di­rec­tor, are aes­thet­i­cally driven. ‘ We like fur­ni­ture and de­sign, light and colour,’ ex­plains Con­rad. ‘ We have lots of mid-cen­tury state­ment pieces that we’ve placed along­side junk-shop finds – I’d say our taste is pretty eclec­tic.’ The cou­ple have kept the prop­erty’s orig­i­nal char­ac­ter – beams and fire­places – adding pops of colour with re­uphol­stered seat­ing in teal and tan­ger­ine.

On their land, the Al­lens have a vegetable patch, eight chick­ens and a wild­flower meadow that was seeded with the help of the Devon Wildlife Trust. It’s the coast, how­ever, that is still the main at­trac­tion for them. ‘Bude is a proper work­ing sea­side town and it has a lovely feel,’ says Con­rad. ‘In sum­mer, we head to the beach most days af­ter school. The boys love surf­ing and our favourite spot is Northcott Mouth, which isn’t too crowded. We’re so happy we took the plunge and moved here.’

DIN­ING Area/ FAM­ILY room Blocks of bold colour bring warmth and depth to this bright space. The Siss­inghurst sofa, £2,420, Matthew Hil­ton, has this look. Be­spoke ta­ble by Mar­cus Coates

MAS­TER BED­ROOM Wall pan­els and in­dus­trial lighting lend a nau­ti­cal note. ar­avalli throw, £175, donna Wil­son at scp. fu­ni­culi wall lamp, £142, twen­tytwen­ty­one

STUDY AREA A be­spoke desk built into an al­cove is a neat use of space. Uni­ver­sal shelv­ing sys­tem, from £318, Vit­soe

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