A new layout and a revamp has transformed this rundown property into Rebecca and Patrick Thornton’s dream home
This couple weren’t afraid to take on a major renovation if it meant securing this house in Hampshire with its ideal location and beautiful proportions
Rebecca and Patrick Thornton had outgrown their London flat and wanted a family home that was close to relatives and had good transport links. After investigating several options, a large Hampshire property that was about to go to auction caught their attention, but the place needed a lot of work, so they knew it would be a big challenge.
‘ We had absolutely no renovation experience at all – I could see it had a lot of potential though,’ recalls Rebecca. ‘The house was in a great location and had the proportions we wanted, as well as scope to build an extension. Inside, however, it was quite old-fashioned and in a pretty poor state, but we soon realised that was an advantage, as we didn’t feel obliged to retain anything and we could make it completely our own.’ Rather than risk the uncertainty of an auction, the couple decided to make an ofer straightaway and were thrilled when it was accepted. Since then, alongside raising their two boys, Oliver, 7, and Henry, 3, they have renovated and revitalised the property, transforming it into the welcoming and practical family home they always wanted.
‘When we first moved in, the rear of the house was a complete muddle, with a tired, small kitchen,’ explains Rebecca. ‘Upstairs, the layout didn’t flow well either and the bathroom was tiny – which wasn’t ideal for a family of four. We realised from the outset that we could streamline the layout and extend the property – we ended up making some major changes quite early on.’ With
input from Patrick and some other family members, Rebecca successfully designed a two-floor extension, despite never having tackled anything similar before. The back of the property was also remodelled and an open-plan kitchen was added. Upstairs, a master bedroom and bathroom were fitted.
Rebecca also masterminded a complete redecoration of the interior. ‘Even though it was all brand new to me, I’ve always enjoyed expressing my creative side,’ says Rebecca. ‘I’m a big fan of mixing old and new and I absolutely love bright colours and prints, especially florals. I like each room to have its own character, but at the same time, I wanted to make sure that the whole house flowed smoothly from one space to the next.’ Rebecca has taken her cue for the decor from the building’s elegant period proportions, creating a timeless scheme overlaid with contemporary touches and individual buys. ‘I shop in all sorts of places, from the high street to independent boutiques and local antiques markets,’ she explains. ‘I love browsing and putting a look together from diferent sources.’
Subtle grey, buf and white tones on the walls maximise light and space throughout the house and provide a clean backdrop for bold patterns, vivid highlights, interesting accessories and eye-catching upholstered pieces. With longevity in mind, Rebecca opted for neutral pieces when it came to investment purchases, such as the simple kitchen units and chic white-and-wood bathroom furniture. ‘Although the kitchen
Favourite room ‘The garden room is great for entertaining and there’s space for the boys to play and us to relax – it’s perfect for everyone’
and bathroom were updated some time ago, every now and again, I revamp the scheme with new fabrics and accessories, so they still feel fresh,’ she explains. ‘ We gave the sitting room a new look a couple of years ago, and I’m still happy with it. I’ve been a fan of subtle grey hues for a while now, because they’re stylish and easy to live with.’
The large, light-filled garden room is a recent addition to the house and, as the boys grow up, it is proving an ever more useful multifunctional, family space. ‘I came up with the idea after we went for lunch at a nearby hotel – it had a glass-roofed dining room and I wanted to recreate a similar feel,’ says Rebecca. ‘The whole family spend a lot of time in here now as it’s so relaxing, and we use the formal, front sitting room for special occasions instead.’
Over the years, Rebecca and Patrick’s home has grown and changed to fit with their lifestyle. Rebecca always has a few low-key updates in mind, but there are no more big alterations to come. ‘ We just enjoy being here, spending time with the boys and entertaining friends and family,’ she says. ‘ We have created a space that we love to be in and were glad we took on a challenge.’
Favourite shop ‘I love The Walnut Tree in Hampshire – I’ve been a regular there for years. It’s brilliant for gifts, homewares and interesting accessories’
Re P lanned
Sitting room Walnut flooring adds warmth and richness to this sophisticated grey scheme. Addison chair, from £1,025; curtains in Coco Pewter fabric, £35m; walls painted in dove Grey matt emulsion, £35 per 2.5 litres, all laura Ashley
home truths the Property detached Victorian house location Hampshire rooms Hall, sitting room, dining room, kitchen/family room, office, garden room, cloakroom, five bedrooms (two en suite), bathroom Purchased 2007 Previous Property ‘ We lived in a flat in north london before this place,’ says rebecca.
GARDEN ROOM A palette of cool greys and crisp lime highlights helps bring the outside in. Devonshire sofa, £1,650; Gloucester Snuggler chair, £1,200, both Laura Ashley. Bespoke footstool by Chris Whelan; in Black Kew Jonquil, £77m, Romo Fabrics
Master BEDROOM ‘The idea to add a wall to separate the en suite and dressing area came from a hotel we stayed at,’ says Rebecca. Loren wing back chair, £360, Fairmont Park at wayfair, has this look