Globetrotting Faye Yuasa has lived in many exotic locations around the world – but she’s now very happily settled in Norfolk, as she told Tony Hall
OVER THE years I have brought my readers several farmhouses as, naturally, they are very much a part of the Norfolk countryside. What makes this one, The Farmhouse at Felmingham, so different is the way interior designer Faye Yuasa has treated each room. Often bold designs, both in furniture and wall coverings, make this Norfolk family home special.
“I have three daughters,” says Faye, “Leila, 12, the eldest is mature and thoughtful, Pearl, nine is just like me and Sadie, age five, is a little magpie, hoarding all sorts of things.”
Faye, originally from Stockton Heath, near Warrington, Cheshire, went to Liverpool University to study Spanish and French, which she speaks fluently. A career in London in advertising and marketing followed, before the travel bug bit. This was, at least in part, because as a student part of her degree was spent living in Salamanca with Spanish students, to immerse herself in the language and culture.
Travel must be in the genes as her brother John is now living in Paris and her sister Lara works for the government in New Zealand. So, at 26, Faye went to Thailand to do a Padi diving course, where she met her future husband (from whom she is now divorced) and on her return went to work at a dive school in St Keverne, Cornwall.
“I then went to the Philippines,” explains Faye, “as a dive tour guide. When back in the UK, I got married and went to live in Javea, Spain for two years, as I wanted my children to learn Spanish, before we uprooted to Australia, to Torquay, about two hours from Melbourne. After considering a return to Europe, nothing seemed quite right so we opted in 2009, to return to the UK.
“Again we cast around, but settled on Norfolk where we found this farmhouse and barns and moved in in January 2010. I had only ever been to Norfolk twice in my life. I remember that I did the London Marathon in March 2010 and Sadie our third baby was born at home in 2011. A busy time.”
“This property,” continues Faye, “ticked all the boxes on the wish list. Top was a rural location, with holiday lets, so I could run a business but still be a full time mum. The house had to be a family home to grow into, near a village school, but also close to Norwich and the airport. The wanderlust is still there and it’s great to take a plane to a favourite; Ibiza. It was a working dairy farm till 1986, with stables. Built in 1746, the back was added in 1836.
“Although I did not want a major project, here I reconfigured some rooms downstairs, to give them better proportions and to allow flow through. I started with the
kitchen area, being the hub of the house, enlarged it and put in a bespoke Brian Turner kitchen. From there everything evolved, one room into another, like a jigsaw. Once started I was well away. Several times progress was held up discovering things breaking down, normal in an old house!”
“I have a passion for colour and rich fabrics, silks, textures and have given all the windows the full treatment.” adds Faye. “It has been great fun sourcing all the furniture, decor and artifacts, so much so that friends started asking me to help on their homes, which is why I have now started my own interior design business, Fly Decor named after my initials, as well.
“Having completed everything in the house, the larger barn conversion ‘Barn House’ which has three beds, sleeping six, followed and I am in the process of converting another barn. From the main house I run holistic retreats and use the Barn House as accommodation.
“I just love the space and the homely feel of the farmhouse,” Faye tells me. “It’s elegant, comfortable and family orientated. With lots of friends locally we often have a big gathering, with the kids sleeping in tents in the large garden, which they really enjoy.
“I love my master bedroom, so quiet and restful, very much my favourite, and the chaise in there is certainly my favourite item. I bought it in a junk shop, but it came from a hotel in Paris.
“We love going for walks around the lake at Blickling Hall. Just love the estate, but also the grounds at Felbrigg are very nice too. We are equally spoilt having the coast so close and a favourite outing is to Overstrand and a walk on the beach. For a pub, the Gunton Arms; lovely surroundings, great food and so close.
“With three children,” concludes Faye, “plus running the holiday let, retreats and starting the interiors business, I really don’t get much spare time. The benefits of living in this corner of Norfolk are fantastic, so although it was a discovery later in life, it’s now at the forefront of everything I do.
“I like to read and have just finished Essays in Love by Alain de Botton and I also enjoy cooking. The children are also very happy and settled in, which as a mum is so important to me, just great. My style I suppose you could describe as shy extrovert.
Entrance hall: Console table and chair from ‘All that Jazz’ at Stockton Heath, Cheshire,01925 210010; wallpaper and blind from Laura Ashley, 0871 223 1387
The morning room: Sofa from Wayfair, coffee table from Keys Auctions, smile sign from Dunelm. Paint effect on walls by Paola Cumiskey, 07766 015899 www.paolacumiskey.com
Kitchen: Bespoke units by Bryan Turner Kitchens, 01953 601567. Wallpaper by Laura Ashley
Below: Master bedroom; chandelier, chest of drawers and wallpaper all from Laura Ashley. Sofa, originally from a Paris hotel, brought from a junk shop in Magdalen Street Norwich. Mirror from ‘All that Jazz’ at Stockton Heath, Cheshire
Left: Black and red guest room; Trellis scroll flocked wallpaper by Kandola, £151.90 per roll Tel: 01902 421361; Bed from Ikea, bedding and throw from Dunelm 01603 418800. Wallpaper and bedside cabinets from Laura Ashley
The original dairy, now a larder.:This was a working dairy farm until 1986. This was where they made the cheese, which was then stored in the arches. The meat hooks in the ceiling and the pamment floor are also original. The house was built 1746, with additions in 1836. It was a working dairy farm till 1986.
Faye, Sadie, Pearl and Leila at their front door