We take a look inside a handsome new home in the historic town of Reepham
Super-stylish home in Reepham
“As an interior designer, I have always paid great attention to lighting, as it allows you to set the mood to exactly what’s required,” says Emile Ezan. “So when I joined Simon here in Norfolk, I was amazed at how beautiful the skies are.
“I know many people rave about these big, wide, open skies, but you really need to see them yourself. On an early weekend, we were sitting together with our respective mums, having a picnic, in the dunes at Winterton.
“It was a perfect summer’s day, with families enjoying themselves on the beach, the sea was sparkling and the sky a deep blue with fluffy clouds. As I looked up, I could appreciate immediately the wonder of Norfolk, which is now home.”
Emile was born and raised in Jamaica until he was 10, when his parents moved to the Woolwich and Greenwich areas of London.
After school, Emile went to Thames Polytechnic and studied business and finance. He briefly worked for an electrical retailer, before joining civil engineers Thomas Telford to work in their publicity and publishing department.
“That division was then bought out by Emap and merged with Architects Journal, where I stayed for 13 years, before being made redundant,” adds Emile. “I had always wanted to do interiors and you could say I was a frustrated architect.
“My love is the building and its interior. So with my redundancy money, I retrained at the KLC School of Interior Design, which gave a practical base and I achieved a diploma in interior design and decoration. Then I did a year with Simon Hamilton Interior Design, before starting on my own in 2004, which was a good time, with houses selling and people spending money doing them up.”
Emile and partner Simon Sykes met in 2014, initially spending weekends together either in London or in Norfolk where Simon lived. Simon, from Leeds, had wanted to be an airline pilot but instead ended up training as a dentist, joining a practice in Croydon.
He then found a practice in Harleston, where he moved in 1982, later opening a practice in Diss. When it came to finding a home together with Emile, Norfolk seemed the perfect choice for a plot of land where they could self-build near the coast. But the search proved difficult, until they saw a feature in the Eastern Daily Press property pages on the new development at The Dial House, Reepham.
“We really liked Iain Wilson the developer,” says Simon. “We thought the build quality of the existing properties was excellent and he offered us the opportunity of customising, allowing for room and location changes, saying ‘you can do what you want inside’, which, with Emile’s vast experience, was great and clinched the deal.”
The Dial House, known because of the large sundial over the front door, is a listed Georgian house built in 1729. It was home to the Bircham family, who ran a brewery from there for several generations. In 1972 it was bought and converted into a hotel, renamed The Old Brewery House, closed in 2013. It was then acquired by Iain Wilson, who drew up plans to restore the hotel with nine rooms, adding residential conversions and new builds where the old banqueting hall, sports hall and car park were.
“Being used to reading floor-plans I just made a few changes,” says Emile. “Naturally, as we both love entertaining – Simon is a first class cook – the main living area of kitchen/dining/living and snug were really important. It is Simon’s favourite and he loves his steam oven, while I love the master bed and ensuite and the lighting everywhere. The electrician told us he had never used so much cable in one house!
“I have just zoned the areas with both open dividers, lighting and a noiseabsorbing wall covering in yellow. With up to 10 friends sitting down to meals it all works well. My design ethos is it must look great, but just as important it must be practical and work throughout.
“Having lived in London for 40-plus years, the biggest contrast is here there is a real sense of community,” says Emile. “Down there you might not even know your neighbours, but here, people stop and chat, in a shop or the street. It’s wonderful but took me by surprise.
“Our local butcher, Brian Robertson, is excellent and we enjoy going shopping in Norwich. We visit The Granary for home decor and Thorns DIY, opposite Jarrolds, is a real treasure trove. But my hub for design has to be Chelsea Harbour.”
“Now we have settled in we have more time for days out,” says Simon. “We enjoy the coast generally, but Wells in particular, with Brancaster and Titchwell following close, plus the Burnhams. For walks, Marriott’s Way is on our doorstep. We are so fortunate to have a great family pub here in Reepham, The Kings Arms.”
“Coming to Norfolk has literally been a breath of fresh air,” says Emile. “Besides the community spirit, the walking and great people, my interior design business is getting well-established with an increasing number of local clients.
“In my spare time, I enjoy reading novels, but mostly I think of that early introduction, the picnic on the beach, good company and the iconic Norfolk skies.”
Emile Ezan 01603 879870 chameleondesignsinteriors.co.uk tonyhalleyepix.com
CLOCKWISEFROM ABOVE:Desk units, chair and bookshelves all from Ikea; display unit from Case FurnitureConsole unit from Jointed & Jointed, mirror from R.V. Ashley TradeBlue sofa and coffee table from John Lewis
TOP TO BOTTOM:White sofas from John Lewis, coffee table from Multiyork, now closed; lampshade by Tom Raffield; mirror from R.V. Ashley Trade; unit from made.com; rug from Laura Ashley
Suite from Mag Norwich, 01603 488770; taps by Hansgrohe ; shower by Duravit; tiles from C.T.D. Fakenham, 01328 853722
Wall Lights from Astro Lighting; throw from John Lewis; bed from Made.com; Sprint headboard by Tempur; ceiling lights from Star Lighting; Carpet from J.D. Williamson of Fakenham, 01328 862 145; wallpaper William Morris from John Lewis