PIC­TURE PER­FECT

A Cor­nish river­side prop­erty pro­vides an idyl­lic re­treat

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - FEA­TURE Maggie Colvin | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Robert SAN­DER­SON

As one of those for­tu­nate cou­ples whose ca­reers of­ten take them over­seas, Emma and Joe Barker were look­ing for a UK base that they could call their own. ‘Corn­wall was an ob­vi­ous choice,’ says Emma. ‘My hus­band Joe’s love of wa­ter sports has meant that we have rarely lived far from the coast and the Cor­nish coast­line is spec­tac­u­lar. When we found a pe­riod house over­look­ing the Truro river, close to my sis­ter-in-law, in­te­rior de­signer Tabitha Barker, we felt it was the per­fect spot for fam­ily hol­i­days.’

South-fac­ing and set up high, the prop­erty com­manded a spec­tac­u­lar view of the salt-wa­ter tidal river, plus it had a pri­vate quay and boathouse at the wa­ter’s edge and a tiered gar­den at the rear. The sash win­dows, pretty tile-clad façade and Ge­or­gian-style porch also at­tracted the cou­ple. ‘The house had not been touched for over 30 years,’ re­calls Emma. ‘To find a build­ing of this era that was in such good struc­tural con­di­tion was a huge plus.’

Hav­ing de­signed and de­vel­oped a num­ber of res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties, Emma started to draw up plans. Pre­vi­ous own­ers had di­vided the prop­erty into two, a main house and a granny flat. ‘Our ini­tial job was to take down walls in the granny flat to cre­ate a large liv­ing space,’ says Emma. ‘We knocked four small rooms into one. By pop­u­lar vote, we de­cided the cook should en­joy the best view of the river, which is bustling with ac­tiv­ity at high tide, as boats, kayaks and fish­er­men take to the wa­ter. When the tide is low, it is a haven for buz­zards, egrets, shell ducks, spar­rowhawks and herons.’

That de­ci­sion pushed the sit­ting room to the rear of the space. ‘This area lacked a fea­ture, so we ar­ranged seat­ing around a wood­burner and low ta­ble, which houses books and a small TV. We al­lo­cated a dif­fer­ent room for watch­ing films as a hang-out space for teenagers.’

The ren­o­va­tion and fur­nish­ing of the house took six months to com­plete and turned into a fam­ily affair. Tabitha, based in Corn­wall, sourced lo­cal prod­ucts and sup­pli­ers, and her part­ner Alan car­ried out the build­ing work. ‘We were so lucky to work with our fam­ily on the project,’ says Emma. ‘Tabitha and I were on ex­actly the same page when it came to the look of the house.’ The style be­came one

of re­laxed, faded el­e­gance with a rus­tic patina, in­clud­ing tra­di­tional el­e­ments, such as win­dow shut­ters made by a car­pen­ter. ‘ We found a tile with a star pat­tern, which had a big im­pact on the look of the house,’ says Emma. ‘The star theme be­came our hall­mark, and even in­spired a new name for the house – now known as Stella Maris, mean­ing “star of the sea”.’ A gold-coloured satin Six­ties cur­tain found in the house also in­flu­enced the gold, grey and white pal­ette.

While the place was be­ing fit­ted with a new kitchen, heat­ing, plumb­ing, electrics and bath­rooms, Emma and Tabitha made count­less trips to vin­tage shops. Mix­ing their high-street finds with quirky an­tique pieces and art­work, they found frames to turn into mir­rors and chairs to re-cover in mat­tress tick­ing. ‘You’d be sur­prised what you can mix to­gether if you stick to sim­ple stripes, stars and co­or­di­nated re­cur­ring colour schemes,’ says Tabitha. ‘It cre­ates a sense of or­der and tran­quil­lity.’

Peace is the su­perla­tive fea­ture of this re­laxed river­side home. ‘When the sun shines, this place has no equal,’ re­flects Emma. ‘We love spend­ing time here.’

sit­ting room ‘the large leather sofa and vel­vet seat­ing fit eight peo­ple com­fort­ably,’ says Emma. Leather sofa, £2,100, Ch­ester­fields of Eng­land. Sofa in Pewter Grey vel­vet, £799; chair (far left) in Mid­night Blue vel­vet, £599, both Made.com. Oak floor planks, £77sq m, Wood­stock

Main Bed­room neu­tral colours are a calm­ing choice, while gold ac­cents add glam­our. Star­burst ta­ble lamps, £125 each, gra­ham and green. Ch­ester­field tufted linen bed, £ 459, Maisons du Monde. Star mir­ror (be­low), £159, Just De­lights Corn­wall. the house is avail­able to rent through unique home Stays (unique­home­s­tays.com)

Bath­room Bronze fin­ishes lend a pe­riod feel. try the vin­tage marine nau­ti­cal in­dus­trial bulk­head wall light, £89.99, Vin­tage elec­tri­cal

Bath­room the cou­ple opted for a spa-like scheme, with a free­stand­ing bath and lux­u­ri­ous mar­ble. or­chard els­don D-shaped bath, £339, Vic­to­ria Plum. Serac honed tiles, from £79.85sq m, topps tiles

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