LIGHT & SHADE These artists de­signed their Kent home to make the most of the sun

The War­ings had to get cre­ative when it came to dec­o­rat­ing their north- and south-fac­ing rooms


When liv­ing in Lon­don with two young chil­dren – Poppy and Finn, now 20, and 17 – started to feel claus­tro­pho­bic, artist An­nie War­ing and her art di­rec­tor hus­band de­cided they wanted a more ru­ral life­style. ‘Ge­off works in the cap­i­tal, and Char­ing Cross is his near­est com­muter sta­tion,’ ex­plains An­nie, ‘so we looked at town op­tions along that rail line, and chose Tun­bridge Wells in Kent. Our house sold quickly, so we were in a hurry to find a new home, but there was noth­ing we liked about this Ed­war­dian prop­erty, ex­cept that it was in the right area.’

Although in good struc­tural or­der, the in­te­rior was dated, with av­o­cado bath­rooms and car­pets with swirly pat­terns. But the cou­ple re­mained un­daunted. ‘The fact that it still had orig­i­nal fea­tures, in­clud­ing un­touched fire­places, was a pos­i­tive for us,’ re­flects An­nie. ‘We knew that we could

im­prove on what was al­ready there, and I was very keen to get started, rip­ping up the car­pets be­fore the re­moval van had even ar­rived. I de­cided I’d much rather live with bare floor­boards,’ she laughs.

An­nie soon re­alised that her new home was a house of two halves. ‘The front is flooded with light, but the rear is north-fac­ing and felt much darker and cold look­ing,’ she says. ‘I soon learnt the colours I need to use to make these ar­eas feel cosier.’

The rooms are fur­nished with items the cou­ple have ac­quired or in­her­ited over the years. ‘ We’re not ones for co­or­di­nat­ing, and never buy fur­ni­ture to cre­ate a theme,’ ex­plains An­nie. ‘I’m a still-life painter and so I’m al­ways group­ing china or ce­ram­ics to­gether. Ev­ery few months, I’ll ring the changes and in­tro­duce a dif­fer­ent col­lec­tion. The in­te­rior re­flects our life, so you’ll find things we picked up on a hol­i­day in Corn­wall or a Clarice Cliff pot that my grand­mother bought in the 1930s. The age of the house lends it­self to hand­made fur­ni­ture.’

Build­ing a large open-plan kitchen-diner has pro­vided a new lay­out that works well. ‘ We knocked a se­ries of smaller rooms into one and built an ex­ten­sion 10ft into the gar­den,’ ex­plains An­nie. ‘I wanted a kitchen that was min­i­mal in style, and we built a chim­ney canopy to have a strong fo­cal point. Us­ing crackle-glazed tiles gives the cook­ing area an aged ap­pear­ance and char­ac­ter, which is sym­pa­thetic to the house.’

Ren­o­vat­ing dif­fer­ent rooms in stages over the course of 12 years has meant the War­ings’ pe­riod home has evolved with their fam­ily. ‘It’s such a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence to trans­form a prop­erty,’ re­flects An­nie. ‘The house isn’t a clas­sic Arts & Crafts style, but it is of that era and I think we’ve stayed true to its orig­i­nal de­sign.’

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