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Amanda Townsend Tack­led The Ren­o­va­tion of A lack­lus­tre prop­erty, Trans­form­ing it into A bright, Stylish And Wel­com­ing COT­TAGE

Country Homes & Interiors - - NORFOLK COTTAGE -

A manda

Townsend says she has never re­gret­ted shelv­ing her orig­i­nal plan of buy­ing a French hol­i­day house in favour of snap­ping up a quaint cot­tage in pic­turesque north Nor­folk, just an hour’s drive from her Suf­folk home.

‘In hind­sight, there was ab­so­lutely no way that we would ever have vis­ited a hol­i­day home in France as reg­u­larly as we have done in the UK,’ says Amanda. ‘Mak­ing the de­ci­sion to buy in Eng­land has given my hus­band Taras and me so many more op­por­tu­ni­ties to make such pre­cious mem­o­ries of fun-filled times with our chil­dren.’

Back in 2011, hav­ing iden­ti­fied north Nor­folk as their pre­ferred lo­ca­tion, Amanda’s next chal­lenge was track­ing down a suit­able prop­erty to cre­ate a dream hol­i­day cot­tage for her fam­ily, prefer­ably close to the stun­ning coast­line.

As luck would have it, while Amanda was dis­cussing her ideas with a friend over cof­fee, fate in­ter­vened. ‘A chap sit­ting at the next table over­heard our con­ver­sa­tion and ca­su­ally re­marked that he was a home-finder and more than happy to help with the search,’ says Amanda. Hav­ing suc­cess­fully used a home­find­ing ser­vice when they moved in to their cur­rent house, the Townsends de­cided to take up the of­fer. ‘Within weeks, he had dis­cov­ered a prop­erty that suited our cri­te­ria,’ says Amanda.

Ar­riv­ing at the brick and flint cot­tage on a hot sum­mer’s day to be shown around by an es­tate agent, Amanda was

in­stantly charmed by the feel of the cot­tage, as well as its wealth of char­ac­ter, his­tory and po­ten­tial. ‘At the time, a cou­ple who’d once been mis­sion­ar­ies owned the prop­erty,’ says

Amanda. ‘It was full of dark, wooden fur­ni­ture and ob­jects such as tribal masks, plus sev­eral mul­ti­coloured rugs and a bur­gundy Aga. When I men­tioned that the bones were def­i­nitely there, but that the cot­tage needed to be gut­ted to cre­ate a brighter, less op­pres­sive home, the es­tate agent told me that her hus­band James was a lo­cal builder and could as­sist.’

Hav­ing snapped up the lack­lus­tre prop­erty in Jan­uary 2012 and with James on board, an ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tion project be­gan. Amanda and Taras agreed that the house, which had started life as two cot­tages be­fore be­com­ing a pub and fi­nally res­i­den­tial ac­com­mo­da­tion, de­served to be lov­ingly re­stored.

‘We didn’t com­pro­mise on any­thing, from fit­tings to fin­ishes, since we yearned for a qual­ity build,’ says Amanda.

Over the next six months, the build­ing was reroofed, all the win­dows were re­placed and the in­te­ri­ors were to­tally stripped back. Grad­u­ally, a beau­ti­ful new-look cot­tage be­gan to emerge, com­plete with a be­spoke kitchen in­clud­ing a smart white Aga, new bath­rooms, more prac­ti­cal floor­ing and a wood­burner in the liv­ing room. The walls were re­plas­tered and the prop­erty was re­painted through­out, giv­ing it an up­lifted, fresh pal­ette.

‘I chose dif­fer­ent colours from those in our Suf­folk home,’ says Amanda. ‘In­stead, I picked blues, soft greys and off-whites to

ref­er­ence the lo­ca­tion’s close­ness to the coast. For sim­plic­ity and co­he­sion, I se­lected just two shades: Far­row & Ball’s Old White and Plum­mett,’ she ex­plains.

When it came to soft fur­nish­ings, Amanda pre­dom­i­nantly opted for tick­ing fab­rics as a gen­tle nau­ti­cal nod. ‘We were thrilled when the project was fin­ished and for years we vis­ited as of­ten as pos­si­ble,’ she says. ‘Of­ten, I’d pick the chil­dren up from school on a Fri­day even­ing, bun­dle them into the car and head to Dock­ing, where we’d pick up fish and chips for sup­per and spend the whole week­end en­joy­ing qual­ity fam­ily time.’

As the chil­dren grew older, their com­mit­ments in Suf­folk meant the fam­ily be­gan spend­ing less time in the hol­i­day abode. ‘It seemed a shame for our lovely house to be sit­ting va­cant when other fam­i­lies could be stay­ing there,’ says Amanda. So in 2016, she took the plunge and be­gan rent­ing the cot­tage out. ‘I de­cided that noth­ing would be out of bounds and went the ex­tra mile to en­sure that the house would be a true home away from home for both our­selves and guests,’ she adds.

Since mak­ing the de­ci­sion, Amanda has been over­whelmed by the re­sponse. ‘The fact that so many other peo­ple are cre­at­ing their own spe­cial mem­o­ries here is in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing,’ she says. ‘I’m just thrilled that we didn’t look any fur­ther afield and chose this won­der­ful area.’ ☎ FORD HOUSE, FLINTNORFOLK.COM.

Kitchen Grey cabi­nets with a white Aga cre­ate a smart yet prac­ti­cal look. Units,painted in Plum­mett by Far­row & Ball. Wall tiles,Fired Earth. Ro­man blind,fab­ric from Ian San­der­son.

Main bed­room Amanda favoured a sooth­ing cream pal­ette with ac­cents of blue for this room. Bed, Feather & Black. Bed­ding, throw, both John Lewis. Rug, Ikea.

A sin­gle, fresh rose and a stack of vin­tage books make wel­com­ing touches. Lamp­base, Birdie Fortes­cue.

Chil­dren’s bed­room A vi­brant yel­low chair adds a bright and breezy air. Chair, fab­ric from Lin­wood. Bunk bed, As­pace. Rugs, Ikea.

House The cen­turiesold cot­tage has been sen­si­tively re­stored. Door, painted in Slate Blue by Marston & Langin­ger.

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