Country Living (UK) - - Contents - Words by car­o­line atkins pho­to­graphs by james mer­rell

A bright, bold pal­ette of Far­row & Ball paints has breathed new life into a pe­riod house on the Suf­folk coast

Clever de­sign ideas and a bold Far­row & Ball pal­ette have breathed new life into a house on the Suf­folk coast

ASOME PLACES HAVE YEAR-ROUND sense of hol­i­day about them: pretty houses, open skies, salt in the air. Thor­pe­ness has that spirit in spades. Orig­i­nally a fish­ing ham­let, it was con­verted at the start of the last cen­tury into a pur­pose-built pri­vate re­sort (a sort of East Anglian ver­sion of the Ital­ianate vil­lage of Port­meirion in north Wales) and was owned by a sin­gle fam­ily un­til in­di­vid­ual build­ings started to be sold off to pay death du­ties in the 1970s.

When ar­chi­tects Christo­pher Ash and James Soane spot­ted the cor­ner house in a ter­race of three Thor­pe­ness cot­tages for sale on Right­move two years ago, they in­stantly re­alised its po­ten­tial as a 21st-cen­tury hol­i­day home. The whole ter­race – built in 1914 in a tim­bered Tu­dor re­vival style, like much of Thor­pe­ness – had been a thriv­ing board­ing house dur­ing the vil­lage’s hey­day, but the pair had a more in­di­vid­ual vi­sion for it that would com­bine a level of so­phis­ti­ca­tion with a sim­ple, laid-back charm.

Apart from the black-and-white ex­te­rior, the house re­tained very lit­tle char­ac­ter: pre­vi­ous own­ers had in­stalled PVC win­dows, in­ter­nal doors glazed with frosted glass and a gas fire in the sit­ting room. So it was a blank page for Christo­pher and James, whose com­pany, Project Orange, spe­cialises in match­ing ar­chi­tec­ture with sym­pa­thetic in­te­rior de­sign. “The fun of em­bark­ing on a project like this,” Christo­pher points out, “is con­sid­er­ing all the

OP­PO­SITE The yel­low front door of the Tu­dor re­vival house sets the tone for the strik­ing hues seen through­out the prop­erty THIS PAGE Rich Stiffkey Blue brings so­phis­ti­cated depth to the walls, ceil­ing and units in the kitchen

pos­si­bil­i­ties.” They started by re­plac­ing all the doors and win­dows, us­ing pho­tos of the orig­i­nal hol­i­day vil­lage as ref­er­ence. “We found the ac­tual com­pany in Long Melford, about 50 miles in­land, that made the orig­i­nal doors and com­mis­sioned them to make copies for us – tra­di­tional four-plank doors with Suf­folk thumb latches,” he adds. The Artex ceil­ings were re­placed with sim­ple pan­elling to match the style of the area and the date of the house, walls were lined with tongue and groove up to dado height and a wood­burn­ing stove was in­stalled in the sit­ting room in place of the gas fire.

The chim­ney was on the point of col­lapse, so had to be re­built as part of the ren­o­va­tion work but most of the changes were dic­tated more by aes­thetic prin­ci­ples than struc­tural ne­ces­sity. The lay­out at the back of the house has been al­tered so you no longer see straight into the kitchen util­ity area from the front door. Now the large din­ing/liv­ing room has a view through to hand-built blue-painted cab­i­nets, “with all the cook­ing mess kept out of sight,” Christo­pher ex­plains. “We’ve made the kitchen read dif­fer­ently by wrap­ping it in tongue and groove to hide the

boiler and an over­head beam, and we put in a fire­place to fill the al­cove where the old fridge used to stand.”

This is a per­fect hol­i­day house – but not a typ­i­cal one. You won’t find many of the usual sea­side ac­ces­sories. “We didn’t want to fall into the coastal cliché of a sail­ing boat on a man­tel­piece,” Christo­pher ad­mits. In­stead, there are dis­tinc­tive pieces from flea mar­kets and lo­cal shops – and the walls have pro­vided a home for all the old prints and maps they’ve been ac­cu­mu­lat­ing for years. In nearby Sax­mund­ham, they found a shop run by a Dutch crafts­man and up­cy­cler who was sell­ing a beau­ti­ful long ta­ble with the kind of drift­wood qual­ity that’s ro­bust enough to with­stand red wine stains and plenty of scrub­bing. They com­mis­sioned him to make them an even longer one – large enough to seat ten – and he man­aged to source ten bent­wood chairs to go with it, which he painted black to com­ple­ment the grey tones in the ta­ble.

Not want­ing the house to be “all neu­tral good taste”, James and Christo­pher ex­per­i­mented with strong, punchy Far­row & Ball colours (es­pe­cially in the bath­room, where you don’t spend enough time to find them over­pow­er­ing). The din­ing room pan­elling was ini­tially painted in the vi­brant burnt orange of Char­lotte’s Locks, but they de­cided this looked too much like “a bol­shy teenager’s bed­room” – the an­tithe­sis of the cot­tage’s peace­ful at­mos­phere – so switched it for Mole’s Breath, a moody but soft grey that works per­fectly with the ta­ble and chairs. The kitchen is mostly in Stiffkey Blue, a rich, glow­ing shade that – used for the fire­place and the ceil­ing above it, as well as for walls and cab­i­nets – feels more town house than beach house, es­pe­cially with vin­tage olive-green Hornsea pot­tery on the shelves and a stuffed pheas­ant on the man­tel­piece. The sit­ting room, in soft Parma Gray and with the orig­i­nal brick fire­place painted white, has more of a clas­sic sea­side scheme, pretty and cool with splashes of bright orange and plenty of bare wood to add warmth. The only paint they used that isn’t Far­row & Ball

is on the front door, which is the same yel­low as the oth­ers in the ter­race. Christo­pher and James in­her­ited the lo­cal builder who had worked on the house in the past, and he hap­pened to have buck­ets of yel­low paint left over from pre­vi­ous main­te­nance work.

Up­stairs in the five bed­rooms (there were six, but one has been con­verted into a sec­ond bath­room), rest­ful shades of blue, aqua, grey, pink and yel­low re­flect the fresh coastal light and high­light the an­gles of the steep at­tic ceil­ings. The cot­tage’s out­door space is lim­ited to a ter­race at the front, with a peb­ble beach area that ex­tends around the side to the yard at the back, while the first­floor front bed­room has a lit­tle bal­cony that looks over rooftops to the dunes, beach and sea be­yond. And who needs a gar­den when you’re just a few steps from all that?

The prop­erty is avail­able to rent through­out the year. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit 2the­dunes-thor­pe­ness.com.

ABOVE Walls in Parma Gray cre­ate a fresh back­drop for a bright clas­sic sofa RIGHT Vin­tage land­scapes bring nostal­gic charm to a com­fort­able cor­ner OP­PO­SITE, CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE LEFT Bold use of Draw­ing Room Blue gives the im­pres­sion of pan­elling; vin­tage china is dis­played on the kitchen shelves; tongue-and-groove in Mole’s Breath show­cases sim­ple rus­tic fur­ni­ture; yel­low bath­room walls sing against a blue land­ing

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