Through the keyhole
Nick and Craig’s beautiful home offers a retreat from the cacophony of Clapham and the roar of the motor trade, as Tony Hall found out
...of a gorgeous rural riverside retreat
RELAXING IN a charming garden on a sunny morning, with the King’s Beck bubbling by, I can well see why Craig Pulford and Nick McMenemy are so enamoured with their new north Norfolk home and this delightful setting.
“Top of our wish list,” explains Nick, “was plenty of outside space for entertaining family and friends in a nice setting. When Craig and I viewed here in July 2015, we looked back at the house, from the beck, and said ‘it’s too good to be true!’ We were blown away by both the house and garden and of course the added bonus of the water left us with no doubts, so we bought in August 2015.”
“As you can see,” adds Craig, “we have installed strings of lights in the trees, added a bench and some seating and have taken full advantage of the garden to host several outdoor gatherings.”
Craig and Nick met five years ago through mutual friends; however this is their first house together. “I was born in Glasgow,” Nick tells me. “But we moved to Norfolk in 1987 when I was 12 because of my father’s job; he was a director of engineering company Crane Fruehauf. We lived in Taverham, but I knew this area as father also looked after the factory at North Walsham, where Waitrose is now.
“I went to school at Notre Dame in Norwich followed by university at Stirling, studying economics and marketing, which I really enjoyed. Then I joined Standard Life in Edinburgh as a graduate trainee. After eight excellent years there I moved to London before taking a consultancy role at Morgans in Mayfair, then Towergate Financial, where I was a director. Subsequently I joined insurance brokers Arthur J. Gallagher, in the City, as sales director.”
“As I am based in Northamptonshire,” says Craig, “and Nick in London, we wanted somewhere that was central
for not just us but friends. Nick’s mum Eileen still lives in Scotland and his sister Laura is in Sussex. My family, mum Marie and dad John and friends, are East Midlands-based, so Norfolk was a natural hub, particularly with Nick’s childhood memories of the county. I have worked in the family motor trade business all my life. We did run a very big Audi/Volkswagen franchise, but now have an independent garage, Autowerks in Wellingborough, specialising in German sports cars.”
“The interior spaces also had to echo our entertaining ethos. The house needed some work including new cylinder and roof repairs, but fortunately, the rest was cosmetic, as time wise we only had weekends.” said Nick.
“Our thoughts on the interior design were a traditional style; elegant, luxurious and comfortable,” says Craig. “We were impressed by the style whilst staying at Babbington House in Devon. The dining room was our starting point.
“My parents were buying a new table, so this one was a gift. It can seat ten, so is ideal. With lots of windows and light and with the conservatory adjacent we felt we could go for a rich, darker wallcolour, which sets the mood, especially at night.
“My mum Marie has a very good eye and gave us valuable input. We wanted each area to flow, using calm colours which work together, such as the grey sofas in the sitting room with the pale grey walls. You could, because of our colour palette, have called this feature ‘Calm in Colby’. The end result has taken us 12 months of weekends, but we are delighted. Nick has a study/office here, so now both of us can spend more time in this lovely location working from home.”
“Needless to say,” says Nick, “the dining room is, without doubt, our favourite room, excellent for entertaining and with great
views of the garden. It is much more the heart of the house than the kitchen. The chandelier also adds style to the room and is a favourite recent purchase. We love socialising and cooking, with my speciality being rib of beef from Coxfords Butchers in Aylsham, while Craig cooks a mean macaroni cheese.
“On Boxing Day last year we had 28 for a meal and in the summer 32 for a barbecue.”
“That said,” adds Craig, “another favourite item is the four poster bed in the master bedroom, which is a spacious room with great views. We were fortunate in finding our favourite interior shop,close by. It’s Baker Rhodes, where a lot of the table lamps and accessories are from. They have been most helpful. We have been delighted by how friendly everyone has been and by how cosmopolitan north Norfolk is.
“We also love going to Holt, especially to Bakers and Larners’ deli. We are totally spoilt for pubs and restaurants. There’s The Gunton Arms, where we often go on Sundays peoplewatching in the bar over a bottle or two of Bordeaux. The Black Boys in Aylsham has great atmosphere and walkable for us is the Banningham Crown, with great service and food. We love a trip along the north Norfolk coast, ending up getting prawns from the lady in the hut in Sheringham, or a walk around Blickling Park, seeing the house, lake and woods. When time permits it’s tennis at Aylsham or Cromer, whilst Nick enjoys line dancing at The Cactus Club in London.
“During the week, I live in Clapham on a fairly busy, noisy road so coming here is a salvation,” concludes Nick. “With my family connections to Norfolk, this really has felt like coming home and I am so pleased to be showing Craig everything. My Dad is buried at Old Costessey and there are still a lots of friends living around here. Although we go skiing each year in the winter and take trips to Mijas in Spain in the summer, where Craig’s parents have a home, we can both honestly say that when the time comes to close the front door here and return to work, we are so sad, every time. We’re just looking forward to our return a few days later, to our true home in such an unspoiled part of this fine county of Norfolk.”
DINING ROOM: Table and chairs from West Country Pine. Chandeliers from John Lewis
STUDY: Console from Classix, Northampton, Chair from John Lewis. Tall glass vase by Kenneth Turner.
KITCHEN: Units painted in Farrow and Ball Cornforth White. Coffee machine and kitchen accessories from John Lewis
MASTER BEDROOM: Four poster bed, similar from Revival Beds. Bedside tables in oak; similar Oak Furniture Superstore Norwich. Bedding from The White Company. Lamps from Baker Rhodes. Wrought iron stool, trunk and chest of drawers from Holt Antiques...
LIVING ROOM: Sofas from Laura Ashley. Lamps from Baker Rhodes 01263 733455. Cushions from Classix, Northampton. Rug on Ottoman from House of Bruar Scotland. Curtains from Next Norwich. Colour paintings by Margaret Wilson. Wall colour Purbeck Stone from...
Below: Nick and Craig by the river
Above: CLOAKROOM Wallpaper by Colefax and Fowler from Baker Rhodes. Mirror from Classix, Northampton. Flooring from Eastern Glazed Ceramics, Norwich, 01603 423391