FATE­FUL FIND Get­ting lost in the Kent coun­try­side led one cou­ple to find the ru­ral home of their dreams

A se­ries of co­in­ci­dences and a wrong turn down a coun­try lane led Murielle and Peter Davies to un­cover the ru­ral home of their dreams

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - FEA­TURE CARO­LINE FOS­TER | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DAVID MEREWETHER

Hav­ing raised their fam­ily in the cap­i­tal, Murielle and Peter Davies yearned to re­tire to the coun­try­side, so they put their Lon­don home on the mar­ket to pur­sue their dream. ‘With seven bed­rooms and an at­tached flat, our old home was too large, and, although we were keen to live in Kent, we weren’t sure where­abouts,’ says Murielle. ‘So we armed our­selves with masses of par­tic­u­lars and went prop­erty hunt­ing.’

Af­ter an ex­haust­ing day of view­ings, the cou­ple took a wrong turn on their way home and be­gan driv­ing down a sin­gle-track lane. ‘ We saw a house with a For Sale board out­side and couldn’t be­lieve our eyes – it was every­thing we’d hoped for,’ re­calls Murielle. ‘The own­ers were in the gar­den and we in­tro­duced our­selves.’

The story did not end there, though, as the own­ers told Murielle they had lost the prop­erty they had wanted to buy. ‘I re­alised that one of the houses we’d viewed that day was the very one they’d set their hearts on, and it was back on the mar­ket,’ she says. ‘We ended up buy­ing the house we found by chance and they bought the house they thought they’d lost. It was a se­ries of happy ac­ci­dents.’

Once the cou­ple had moved into their new home, they re­sisted mak­ing any im­me­di­ate changes, pre­fer­ring to fa­mil­iarise them­selves

with its in­te­rior first. ‘ We spent many evenings mak­ing plans over a glass of wine and talk­ing into the night,’ says Murielle. ‘The house was a square shape orig­i­nally, but, in 1910, a hall­way ex­ten­sion was added to cre­ate a T-shaped build­ing. We de­cided to in­fill ei­ther side of the hall­way pro­tru­sion and de­mol­ish an old con­ser­va­tory to make way for a large or­angery ex­ten­sion that would give us a gen­er­ous open-plan space for a kitchen, sit­ting and din­ing area.’

The en­tire ren­o­va­tion was com­pleted over sev­eral years and has in­creased the size of the prop­erty con­sid­er­ably. Zones within the or­angery ex­ten­sion help to de­fine the sit­ting and din­ing ar­eas, and a new kitchen forms part of the open-plan space, but is kept en­closed by a large penin­sula. ‘ We have won­der­ful par­ties in this part of the house, but, de­spite the ad­di­tional space, peo­ple just grav­i­tate into the kitchen and I have to shoo them out,’ smiles Murielle.

Tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the beau­ti­ful coun­try­side around her home, Murielle chose to dec­o­rate the in­te­rior in nat­u­ral tones, adding el­e­ments of colour us­ing soft fur­nish­ings and fab­rics. ‘I like to spend time get­ting a feel for what pal­ette will work, be­cause ev­ery room has its own in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics and quirks,’ she says.

Murielle has grown to ap­pre­ci­ate her home’s sur­round­ings just as much as she loves the house it­self. ‘Ev­ery time I look at the view of the Downs, I feel so priv­i­leged,’ she re­flects. ‘ We are blessed to live in such a lovely lo­ca­tion, and I’m glad we took that wrong turn all those years ago. It proved to be just the right re­sult for us.’

HALL Mono­chrome tiles make a state­ment. The Fan­tasy Black porce­lain floor tiles, £50sq m, Orig­i­nal Style, are sim­i­lar

MAS­TER BED­ROOM Murielle used a soft dove grey shade on the walls to com­ple­ment the lilac and pur­ple soft fur­nish­ings. ‘It’s a won­der­fully calm­ing colour com­bi­na­tion,’ she says. walls painted in Skim­ming Stone es­tate emul­sion, £ 43.50 per 2.5 litres, Far­row & ball. De­sign­ers Guild has a sim­i­lar bed­spread in Tiber Cro­cus/lilac, £395 for a large size

GUEST BED­ROOM Ac­ces­sories in duck-egg blue add a visual punc­tu­a­tion to the neu­tral colour scheme. Cush­ions, £50 each, home­sense. Find sim­i­lar lamp­shades at Laura Ash­ley, £30 each MAS­TER EN SUITE Pedestal basins with tra­di­tional taps lend the space pe­riod style. The Clas­sic pedestal basins, £509 each, burling­ton, are com­pa­ra­ble

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