Key­hole:

Tucked away in a quiet cor­ner of south Nor­folk is a gem of a con­verted barn, as Tony Hall dis­cov­ered... even­tu­ally

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - PHO­TOS: Tony Hall

Tony Hall finds a stun­ning barn in south Nor­folk

Over the 28 years of find­ing my way to read­ers’ homes, I have only got lost twice. Now it’s three times. Find­ing the vil­lage was sim­ple, but find­ing the barn, which is Kally El­lis’s Nor­folk home, took slightly longer, as it re­ally is tucked away. How­ever, it was well worth the search, as Kally is a fas­ci­nat­ing per­son with a de­light­ful home.

Kally’s first ac­quain­tance with Nor­folk came about when she was at­tracted by the lan­guage cour­ses at the UEA, so she en­rolled for four years, to do French and Ital­ian.

A job at a French bank in the

‘ I am into vil­lage life and love go­ing to the Christ­mas panto and art ex­hi­bi­tions in the hall, sum­mer fetes on the green’

City of Lon­don fol­lowed but, as is of­ten the case, a ma­jor event al­ters the course of one’s life. Her dear­est friend So­phie, who lived in Paris, was sadly killed in the Locker­bie air crash. They had of­ten met up and on hear­ing the sad news, Kally went to Paris to com­fort So­phie’s mother, Anne. “I re­call the mo­ment that changed my life so well,” re­mem­bers Kally. “On my first day there I had gone to the florist to buy a bunch of flow­ers for Anne. They were just mixed tulips, but I was so im­pressed by the way they were then tied and wrapped, cre­at­ing an ex­tremely beau­ti­ful pre­sen­ta­tion. That was my light bulb mo­ment.

“So on re­turn­ing home, I told my par­ents I was go­ing to open my own flower shop. Every­one thought I was to­tally crazy, as there were city re­dun­dan­cies, the worst re­ces­sion and peo­ple told me that the very first things to go were lux­ury items. With Christ­mas com­ing up I did some work ex­pe­ri­ence at a well-known Lon­don florist’s and re­alised that this was ex­actly what I wanted to do.

“Within a month I had found premises, a tiny flower shop in Shored­itch called McQueens. I de­cided to keep the name and

we opened the doors in Jan­uary 1991 with one aim, to sell sim­ple and stylish flow­ers, all beau­ti­fully pre­sented.” Her busi­ness went from strength to strength. An­other lucky break hap­pened when Kally was called upon at the last minute to pro­vide her ser­vices at a Van­ity Fair party at the Ser­pen­tine Gallery in Lon­don: their florist had let them down. In time this led to Kally be­ing asked to pro­vide flow­ers for their post Os­car party in Los An­ge­les, one of the world’s most glam­ourous events, a com­mis­sion she is still proud of af­ter 22 years. “We also de­sign and style flow­ers for other pres­ti­gious Van­ity Fair events in­clud­ing the Cor­re­spon­dents’ Din­ner in Wash­ing­ton at the French am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence, the Tribeca film fes­ti­val open­ing part in New York and the glam­orous Ho­tel du Cap party at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.”

Kally now has 47 staff, a large ware­house, of­fices, work­rooms and shop in Cam­bridge Heath Road, Lon­don. Clients in­clude Clar­idges, The Con­naught, The Berke­ley, The Shangri La at The Shard and the Grove in Hert­ford­shire. Kally had orig­i­nally been look­ing to buy a barn in Suf­folk and found one near Mend­ham, when her es­tate agent showed her this one built in 1830, lo­cated in South Nor­folk.

“As soon as I drove into the vil­lage I knew this is where I wanted to be,” ex­plains Kally. “There was some­thing about this won­der­ful, his­toric place that I fell in love with in­stantly. I am

only a few min­utes’ walk away from good vil­lage shops, a church and two pubs and the barn is in a per­fect lo­ca­tion. It had al­ready been partly ren­o­vated, although it needed lots of up­dat­ing. It all took about 18 months, ably as­sisted by my neigh­bour Jamie, a builder, and his wife Car­rie. He was an ex model maker in the film in­dus­try and was well versed in ev­ery­thing. What a find!”

Kally and I start of our tour of the barn in the spa­cious kitchen and din­ing room. There is a very rus­tic French feel, the kitchen hav­ing a cen­tre is­land in dis­tressed blue orig­i­nally from a hab­er­dasher’s shop in Kent. It is enor­mous but with this big space is in to­tal bal­ance. At the other end are a din­ing ta­ble, chairs and side­board from Dix Sept in Fram­ling­ham, which is Kally’s favourite in­te­ri­ors shop and a source of sev­eral items through­out the house. The whole space opens onto the ter­race.

“This room is def­i­nitely my favourite,” says Kally. “I love ev­ery­thing in it and its very much the cen­tre of so­cial­is­ing.” We then go through an in­ner lobby, with a big col­lec­tion of kitchen para­pher­na­lia, off which is one guest bed­room and Jack and Jill bath­room. We then step into the stun­ning main liv­ing room, with so­fas gath­ered around a large fire­place. To the other end is more a gar­den room, to re­lax look­ing over the gar­den, com­plete with Greek bench.

Be­ing a com­mit­ted Gre­cophile – Kally’s grand­fa­ther came from Mykonos – we pause ev­ery so of­ten to chat about the Greek is­lands.

Kally then shows me the other guest bed­room, which over­looks the gar­den, be­fore we go upstairs to see the master bed­room and en suite. Ev­ery­where you look are un­usual, in­ter­est­ing pieces of fur­ni­ture and ar­ti­facts, of­ten very dif­fer­ent but as they are cho­sen by Kally’s ex­pe­ri­enced cre­ative eye, they make this barn truly unique and fas­ci­nat­ing.

“It’s six years now that the ren­o­va­tions have been com­plete. I find af­ter the fast, hec­tic life in Lon­don, that I spend more and more time here, it is just so calm and peace­ful. I en­joy just walk­ing my dog Teddy, a Bedling­ton ter­rier, get­ting to know the lo­cals and feel­ing wel­come. I am into vil­lage life and love go­ing to the Christ­mas panto and art ex­hi­bi­tions in the hall, sum­mer fetes on the green. I have to­tally set­tled into Nor­folk life.” N McQueens, 229 Cam­bridge Heath Road, Lon­don E2 0EL en­[email protected] mcqueens.co.uk tony­halleyepix.com

BE­LOW: Bed from Loaf, side tables from Solid ID, cush­ion in French linen, chest from Suf­folk House, Yox­ford, 01728 668122

TOP LEFT: A nat­u­ral sun­trap

LEFT: Bed from Loaf, side tables from Solid ID, cricket ta­ble from Yox­ford An­tiques Cen­tre, mir­ror from Dix Sept

ABOVE: Cen­tre is­land from hab­er­dasher’s shop in Kent, sink from Mongers, Hing­ham, 01953 851868, butcher’s block from Farm House An­tiques, Bun­gay, din­ing ta­ble from Dix Sept, ra­di­a­tors from Mongers, pam­ments from Wo­macks Re­claim, 07770 388314, side­board...

Chaise from the Con­ran Shop, Lon­don, dis­tressed painted ta­ble from Cork Brick, Bun­gay, 01986 894873, ar­moire from Solid ID

Kally with Teddy

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