A de­sire for a ru­ral home with easy ac­cess to the sea, led this pair to a for­mer forge in Devon

25 Beautiful Homes - - NEWS - Fea­ture VIVI­ENNE AYERS | Pho­tog­ra­phy POLLY eltes

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

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