COAST & COUNTRY
A desire for a rural home with easy access to the sea, led this pair to a former forge in Devon
My fiancé Jim wanted to be by the sea, and I wanted to live in the countryside, in a house that was old and had character,’ says Philippa Hartley. She lived in London at the time but Jim was based in Devon, so it made sense to look for a house there after they got married.
And they found one that ticked all the boxes: a former forge with bags of character that was close to the coast but had been on the market for 18 months.
‘It had been in one family for 50 years and hadn’t been touched since the 1970s,’ says Philippa. ‘It was a huge project, which is why no one else had snapped it up.’ The couple loved the aspect of the courtyard with stunning views across the garden to the countryside. ‘ The garden was beautiful as the previous owners were keen gardeners. My mother-in-law’s jaw dropped when she saw it,’ says Philippa.
The sale went through in October 2010 but the new owners didn’t move in until 10 months later, living with Jim’s mum while the renovations took place. ‘ We took the house apart ourselves and completely gutted it,’ says Philippa, ‘then we rewired, replumbed, insulated and replastered throughout. We also installed underfloor heating and fitted radiators upstairs.’ New ceilings and floors were added, too, as well as beautiful period-style windows.
To make the house work for them, the couple changed the internal layout. ‘What is now the open-plan kitchen/ living/dining area was garages and workshops, so we needed to get planning
permission to make this lovely family space, which overlooks the garden,’ says Philippa. Reintroducing period features was also important. ‘ We tried to bring personality and by replicating what would have been there before so, for instance, we added beams downstairs.’
The kitchen was upstairs, but that space was turned into an office and living room, with a dividing wall incorporating a woodburner. ‘We hacked away and found some lovely slate, so that became the hearth. Wood from an old pier found in a reclamation yard became a lintel above the fireplace.’
When it came to decorating, Philippa was keen on a coastal-meets-country look. All the walls were painted white and in many of the rooms the colour palette is blue and white. ‘It’s one of my favourite schemes; everyone jokes if it’s not blue and white, it can’t belong to a Hartley,’ she says. ‘However, the upstairs living room is more colourful.’
The decorating process was organic and involved buying pieces that had history. ‘ We collected things slowly as we wanted to buy what we liked rather than needed,’ says Philippa. ‘ When I saw some antique chairs that Jim had found for the living room I thought he was mad, but we sent them to an upholsterer to be re-covered and now I think they are beautiful.’
Since their move, the couple have welcomed the arrival of children Ned and Clemmie, and the house has proved to be an idyllic family home. ‘The children have a great garden to play in and we have coast and country on our doorstep,’ says Phillippa. ‘It’s the best of both worlds.’
SITTING ROOM Pops of red, plaid fabric and cable-knit cushions bring a cosy feel to the scheme. Kingston sofa, £1,650, Laura Ashley. the opium coffee table, £1,135, Lombok, has a similar look
KITCHEN Cream painted units keep the room light, while wooden worktops lend warmth. Similar cabinets, price on request, Harvey Jones. butcher’s block painted in Pigeon estate eggshell, £60 per 2.5 litres, Farrow & ball
SITTING AREA Blue and white lends a coastal feel. the oscar sofa in brittany blue French stripe is similar, £2,445, Loaf. try the chichester 5ft open rack grand dresser, £2,690, Neptune
MASTER en SUITE The wow factor is achieved with a vaulted ceiling and an antique freestanding bath. try the clearwater Lonio bath, £2,020, Soakology. the Kilima wool rug, £286.50, Maisons du Monde, is similar
STAIRCASE Vintage sporting equipment such as snowshoes and ski poles turns an unused corner into a focal point.
GUEST BEDROOM A wrought-iron bed and patchwork quilt create a period feel. For a similar look, try the highgrove bed, from £549, Feather & black