A Georgian townhouse in a Devonshire market town was restored by Holly and Philip Keeling, ready for their next move…
This characterful property proved the perfect investment as both a shop and a beautiful holiday let
Holly Keeling doesn’t do things by halves. ‘I tend to take a leap of faith when it comes to new opportunities,’ she says. Indeed, her vision and energy have led her on a steadily evolving path, taking her from a career as a fashion buyer to that of an interiors consultant.
For many years, her studio and showroom were in a converted barn next to the Georgian farmhouse in rural Devon that she shares with husband Philip and their three children, Ben, Louis and Charlotte. But Holly missed the hustle and bustle of a busy town. With the family growing fast the couple began to feel their home would soon be too big for just the two of them.
Three years ago, the solution to both issues presented itself in the form of an old shoe shop with a tall townhouse adjoining it on Totnes’ high street. ‘As soon as I discovered the property was for sale, we had no doubt this would tick all the boxes,’ says Holly. ‘However, we weren’t yet ready to uproot from our family home, so we had to think hard about how we would make the venture work.’
The couple decided that along with turning the shop into the interiors emporium Holly had long imagined, they would renovate the house and market it as a boutique holiday retreat for the next few years. ‘It was such a lot to take on,’ says Holly.
The entire Grade ll-listed property has a rich history. ‘Much of it is Georgian, but some parts date back to the 13th century,’ Holly explains. ‘There was a lot to discover.’ The tired shop was tackled first, and after an extensive renovation it is now a lifestyle store brimming with decorative objets, ceramics and more. The house, which is entered via the courtyard at the back of the property, was similarly neglected. The first job was to sacrifice a bedroom in the eaves to create a generous bathroom. Then a cramped kitchen and dated bathroom on the first floor became a new larger kitchen.
‘Luckily, many of the Georgian features were still in place,’ Holly explains. ‘We were thrilled to find that the original double doors between the living room and the dining area had been stored in the cellar.’ Holly also realised that once the crumbling old plaster covering a wall in the dining room was removed, there was every chance the original fireplace and chimney breast would be revealed. ‘I got the builders to keep chipping away,’ she says. ‘It was so exciting when the arch of the fireplace was slowly revealed.’
Once all the essential renovation work had been completed, Holly was finally able to bring her decorating skills to the project. The colour palette employs mainly blues, soft greys and off-whites, while her love of classic pattern is seen in the main bedroom’s beautiful wallpaper and in the soft furnishings throughout.
‘I love mixing different styles together,’ she explains. The house is now let to holidaymakers, although Holly and Philip have enjoyed the occasional night here, too. ‘We’re road-testing it for our future,’ she says. ‘Not long ago, a lady from Australia came into the shop and showed me a photograph of her grandmother in the courtyard on her wedding day. It’s wonderful to think that we will be a part of this beautiful building’s history one day, too.’
To rent Number Six, see boutique-retreats.co.uk
Empty antique picture frames create an interesting display. Find similar pendant light at Graham & Green
Holly has injected interest with a patterned tiled floor. Cabinets, Marc Smith Bespoke Kitchens. Floor tiles, International Tiles
The four-storey townhouse leads out on to a pretty courtyard. The front door is painted in Smoked Turquoise by Dulux
An industrial pendant, ironwork mirror and black cafe chairs create a touch of edge here. Chairs,
❝I LOVE MIXING DIFFERENT STYLES – THE HOUSE HAS A WONDERFUL GEORGIAN ELEGANCE BUT I ALSO FELT IT IMPORTANT TO ADD UNEXPECTED PIECES❞
Living room Original features, such as the imposing marble fireplace, and Holly’s choice of classic furniture add to the scheme’s elegant air. Cushions covered in Carmen Red/ Sienna, Colefax & Fowler. Similar glass chandelier, Holly Keeling Interiors
Living room Holly has injected a contemporary twist with a deep blue feature wall. Wall painted in Inchyra Blue, Farrow & Ball. Floorboards, Rustic Oak, Elka. Sofas, sofa.com
Living room Original Georgian double doors lead to the dining area where the exposed brick chimney breast is a characterful focal point. Wall units painted in Inchyra Blue, Farrow & Ball
Main bedroom Wallpaper,