best of both worlds
Widening their search meant Andy Wells and Trine Kaalund Hansen could afford a larger home, with the capital still within easy reach
Moving to Hertfordshire gave one couple more space and an easy commute to the capital
Moving from a busy London location to the quieter byways of Hertfordshire was an easy decision for Andy Wells and his wife Trine Kaalund Hansen, once they discovered there was a lake at the end of their garden. ‘ We both love the countryside and I’m a keen fisherman, so that sealed the deal,’ says Andy, who is originally from Hertfordshire. ‘But the house was right for us on other levels, too.’
The pair started looking outside London when high prices and stiff competition ruled out buying a city flat. ‘At open house viewings we would be one of 50 couples, all competing against each other,’ says Andy. ‘By widening our net, we got a two-bedroom “doer-upper” for the price of a tiny London flat – and the fact that I can head out fishing from our back door is an added bonus!’
The setting felt unspoilt, but unfortunately the same was not true of the cottage they bought, which had not fared well from previous renovations. ‘The original character had been diminished and replaced with an odd mix of styles, including mock Tudor beams and Eighties Spanish terracotta tiles,’ recalls Andy. Reinstating two Victorian fireplaces in the bedrooms returned the house to its roots, while an extension and loft conversion allowed for a larger kitchen-diner and guest bedroom.
However, the renovation work did not start straight away. ‘Being first-time buyers, we didn’t have the finances
for the first two years,’ says Andy. By the time they eventually started the work, Trine was expecting their son Oskar, now one. ‘This meant I spent my paternity leave finishing off building and decorating jobs around the home in between getting to know our new baby,’ says Andy.
Trine’s Danish roots offered plenty of style inspiration. ‘We always knew we were going to paint the rooms plain white, as it doesn’t overwhelm a space, or clash with any other colours,’ she says. It also acts as a backdrop for the couple’s collection of art. ‘ We wanted to add impact with bold art pieces, and we bought many of them through the Affordable Art Scheme,’ Trine adds.
The couple also introduced some industrial elements, such as the exposed steel beam in the kitchen. ‘I asked the builders to leave it bare rather than box it in, to add texture and colour,’ explains Andy. ‘Keeping it exposed also felt like a more honest way of extending the house, showing where we’ve added to the Victorian frame.’ A bare-brick wall in the sitting room and bulbs hung from flexes are further urban touches, but the house has softer elements, too. ‘We used timber and mid-century furniture to balance out the mood,’ says Trine. ‘It’s a look that feels timeless.’
By adding more space and creating a more cohesive style, Andy and Trine have given this period cottage a fresh lease of life. ‘ We adore living here,’ says Trine. ‘It feels like we have the best of old and new.’
KITCHEN ‘The cabinetry feels timeless and the colour is very practical,’ says Trine. Bespoke cabinetry in Charcoal by Herringbone Kitchen. Stenstorp island, £250, Ikea
MAIN BEDROOM The couple reinstated a simple Victorian fireplace to act as a focal point. walls painted in Down Pipe estate emulsion, £ 45 for 2.5L, Farrow & ball. hamilton pendant shade, £15, Iconic Lights, is a match
BATHROOM A heavily patterned floor brings interest and life to this traditional monochrome scheme. hammersmith floor tiles, £ 47.66sq m; Salisbury slipper bath, from £699, both bathstore
NURSERY Joyful blasts of colour make Oskar’s room an inspiring and fun space. Cot, £575, Stokke. take a look at Confetti underwater rug, £35.99, rugs4decor