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

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENT - FEA­TURE JO LEEVERS | Pho­tog­ra­phy RACHAEL SMITH

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

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