ES­SEX COUN­TRY HOUSE

DE­SPITE A STRING OF MISHAPS, LYNSEY AND PAUL CROSS HAVE TURNED THEIR MOATED PE­RIOD HOUSE INTO A FAM­ILY HOME THAT'S THE HEIGHT OF EL­E­GANCE

Country Homes & Interiors - - CONTENTS -

Ob­sta­cles over­come, this moated pe­riod home is now the height of el­e­gance

'The house is mag­i­cal at Christ­mas when we have toasty fires on the go,’ says Lynsey Cross. She moved here two years ago with her hus­band Paul and chil­dren Nathaniel, Lu­cas, Is­abella and Leonardo. The cou­ple weren’t par­tic­u­larly look­ing to move house – they were liv­ing in a nearby town with ev­ery­thing on their doorstep – but when they spot­ted the idyl­lic prop­erty with parts dat­ing from the 16th cen­tury, they de­cided to view it and in­stantly fell in love with it.

‘We had a good feel­ing about it,’ says Lynsey. ‘The pre­vi­ous fam­ily lived here for 30 years and their chil­dren had grown up here. A lot of love had been poured into it and they wanted an­other fam­ily to cher­ish it.’ Although the house had been ren­o­vated, Lynsey and

Paul were keen to put their stamp on it. ‘We wanted to keep the orig­i­nal fea­tures, such as the meat hooks that game was hung on, the wooden beams and the solid wood doors, but then to dec­o­rate it in a way that’s mod­ern yet in keep­ing with the age of the house.’

The cou­ple en­listed the help of Alexan­der James In­te­rior De­sign, with a brief to cre­ate a coun­try in­te­rior that was sym­pa­thetic to the pe­riod of the house and its orig­i­nal fea­tures but con­tem­po­rary enough to cope with a young fam­ily. Lynsey li­aised with in­te­rior de­signer Ma­rina De­marchuk over the schemes, fab­rics and fur­ni­ture. ‘I emailed her pho­tos of the house and she spent a lot of time un­der­stand­ing our style. She did an amaz­ing job.’

The project took a year, with the house gut­ted to a shell. The build­ing was rewired, new heat­ing and floor­ing were put in and new bath­rooms were in­stalled, as well as a new kitchen. ‘We lived in one half of the house with the other half screened off while the work was be­ing done. We have a pool­house in the grounds so we were able to live there some of the time, too.’

The project wasn’t with­out its mishaps, how­ever. The pre­vi­ous own­ers had found a pair of child-size Vic­to­rian boots dur­ing their ren­o­va­tions and stored them in a glass case. ‘They warned us to keep them in the house,’ says Lynsey. ‘We put them in the snug but then de­cided to move them into the pool­house – and ev­ery­thing started to go awry. A gas pipe was rup­tured and the house nearly blew up; an elec­tric­ity cable was sev­ered; our kitchen units went miss­ing in Italy. I’m not usu­ally su­per­sti­tious but we moved the boots back into the snug and ev­ery­thing stopped go­ing wrong!’

The work be­gan in Oc­to­ber 2016 and Lynsey hoped to have the first half of the house – the liv­ing room, snug and chil­dren’s bed­rooms – fin­ished by Christ­mas. ‘The liv­ing room was a shell when I went away on busi­ness but when I came back it was fin­ished and dec­o­rated with a Christ­mas tree. I burst into tears as I was so over­whelmed! I’ve al­ways loved Christ­mas and it just looked so fes­tive.’

The house cre­ates the ideal back­drop for sea­sonal fes­tiv­i­ties.

‘The grounds are lovely to walk around in win­ter­time, and we have lots of holly bushes out­side,’ says Lynsey. ‘It’s per­fect for hav­ing peo­ple over at Christ­mas.’ ☎ ALEXAN­DER JAMES IN­TE­RIOR DE­SIGN, 0118 932 0828, AJI.CO.UK. »

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Liv­ing room A roar­ing fire and flick­er­ing can­dles cre­ate a cosy scene. sofa, cush­ions and cur­tains, all Alexan­der James In­te­rior De­sign. table, Ju­lian Chich­ester. Wall­pa­per, Fox Lin­ton. Wall lights, Chel­som. table lamps, Heath­field & Co. »

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