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