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
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