In­door/out­door liv­ing is beau­ti­fully achieved


A!er run­ning a suc­cess­ful an­tiques and in­te­rior de­sign busi­ness for over 20 years, Kate Pols thought a change was in or­der. ‘As much as I loved deal­ing in an­tiques, I felt it was time for a sim­pler life,’ she says. How­ever, once Kate had di­vested her­self of the shop and its stock, what she re­ally wanted was a fresh chal­lenge. And, as some­one who lives and breathes de­sign, it was a fore­gone con­clu­sion that this ‘fresh chal­lenge’ would in­volve a new home.

‘ I’d started look­ing,’ she says, ‘ but not very se­ri­ously. Noth­ing re­ally ap­pealed un­til – quite by chance – I spo"ed the ‘ For sale’ sign on this place as I was driv­ing past.’ Kate, who says she has an in­stinct for such things, knew im­me­di­ately that this was where she wanted to live. ‘ I drove straight home, phoned the es­tate agent and put in an o#er,’ she laughs. ‘ He in­sisted that I went out to view it prop­erly but, even then, I just took a look through the front door.’

Si­t­u­ated only a mile or two out­side Hunger­ford, and not far from

where Kate was liv­ing at the time, the area was con­ve­nient and close to friends. ‘And the far-reach­ing views gave it a real sense of be­ing out in the coun­try­side,’ she says.

Sym­pa­thetic Ren­o­va­tions

From the !oor plans, it was clear that the in­te­rior would bene"t from a few al­ter­ations, ‘and there was cer­tainly scope for im­prove­ment on the gar­den front’. In other words, the prop­erty was ideal – ex­actly the kind of project she was look­ing for. Kate, who had ren­o­vated sev­eral houses in the past, saw no rea­son to en­gage an ar­chi­tect. ‘I knew what needed do­ing,’ she says. ‘So with the help of my very com­pe­tent

builder, I submi!ed the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion my­self.’

For­tu­nately, Kate’s new home was not listed, so re­plac­ing the ex­ist­ing win­dows on the front el­e­va­tion with cus­tom-made gothic ones wasn’t a prob­lem. Nei­ther was her pro­posal to ex­tend the building by adding an el­e­gant, glass-roofed or­angery at one end of the house. De­signed so that it can be used through­out the year, the or­angery has a wood-" re stove set into the "re­place, which casts a cosy glow to­wards the din­ing ta­ble and the seat­ing area through­out the win­ter.

But it’s dur­ing the sum­mer months that the room re­ally comes into its

own: the large fold­ing glass doors al­low the in­te­rior and the beau­ti­ful all-white gar­den be­yond to be­come one large, shel­tered space that’s ideal for en­ter­tain­ing.

The orig­i­nal si!ing room, si­t­u­ated at the op­po­site end of the house, has a very di "er­ent feel. With its heav­ily beamed ceil­ing and in­glenook # re­place, Kate fur­nished it with win­ter evenings in mind, bas­ing the up­hol­stery fab­rics on warm pinks and reds. A needle­point throw, a Per­sian rug and em­broi­dered cush­ions add to the pro­fu­sion of pa!ern and colour. ‘ That’s where I hibernate dur­ing the win­ter,’ she says. ‘As soon as it gets dark, I light the # re and curl up on the sofa with a pile of gar­den­ing books.’

An Evolv­ing Home

The kitchen used to be cramped and dark but is now # lled with nat­u­ral light thanks to the or­angery run­ning along one end. An Aga, in­stalled by the pre­vi­ous own­ers, earns its keep in the cold­est months when Kate is ap­pre­cia­tive of its warmth. Dur­ing the sum­mer, she cooks on an elec­tric hob, set into an is­land unit that she had made to her own de­sign. Hous­ing all the kitchen ap­pli­ances apart from the fridge, it clev­erly ra­tio­nalises the space, leav­ing room for a col­lec­tion of

framed sam­plers on the walls and a charm­ing dresser ! lled with vin­tage china and dec­o­ra­tive sponge­ware.

When fur­nish­ing the house, Kate started with pieces she’d brought with her from her former home. ‘ To be­gin with, there was fur­ni­ture piled up all over the house,’ she says. ‘ But grad­u­ally I ! ltered out what I didn’t need. Kate de­scribes her dec­o­rat­ing style as look­ing lived-in and un­dec­o­rated. ‘I think a house should re"ect the per­son­al­ity and taste of who­ever lives there. I look around my home and I’m sur­rounded by things that I love – the cats and dogs, my gar­den and all the fur­ni­ture and art­work that I’ve col­lected over the years and, of course, my fam­ily as I have lots of pho­to­graphs.’

On the up­per "oor, Kate made a few ad­just­ments, such as en­larg­ing the en suite bath­room and cre­at­ing more wardrobe space in the main bed­room. Walls are painted in earthy neu­trals and, for the cur­tains and bed­cov­ers, Kate chose del­i­cate, em­broi­dered

!oral de­signs from Chelsea Tex­tiles. ‘As else­where, the fur­ni­ture is a mix­ture – French, English, painted, pol­ished, large and small. I al­ready had the large French mir­ror that is in my bed­room. It’s de­signed for a much taller room, but I think it looks at home here.’

Kate thought she’d miss the cut and thrust of an­tiques deal­ing but, in fact, she has no re­grets about giv­ing up the shop. ‘Charlo"e, my daugh­ter, now has her own in­te­rior de­sign com­pany, Su"on House In­te­ri­ors, so I keep my hand in, act­ing as a con­sul­tant on her larger projects. And al­though Kate doesn’t work with them in the same ca­pac­ity, an­tiques are very much still part of her life. ‘ When I had my shop I mainly dealt in dec­o­ra­tive 18th and 19th- cen­tury French and English an­tiques and I’ve al­ways fur­nished my own homes us­ing the same styles,’ she says. ‘A #er all, what else can you buy that is not only beau­ti­ful and well­made, but a $ord­able as well as be­ing a good in­vest­ment?’

‘The far-reach­ing views give this house a real sense of be­ing out in the coun­try­side.’

De­signed to be used through­out the year, dur­ing the sum­mer months the or­angery comes into its own.

PRE­VI­OUS PAGE The gothic-style win­dows at the front of the house were re­placed by Kate. LEFT FROM

BOT­TOM Lime­stone from Ar­ti­sans of De­vizes has been laid through­out to cre­ate a seamless tran­si­tion from the old­est parts of the house to the new; the or­angery ex­ten­sion is fur­nished with a mix of French and English an­tiques, such as the 19th-cen­tury fruit­wood din­ing ta­ble, which give it a sense of warmth. THIS PAGE FROM

TOP Every­where you look there are dec­o­ra­tive an­tiques, such as the owl vases on the man­tel­piece, framed sam­plers and yel­low-glazed French con­fit pots; the din­ing room opens straight out onto the gar­den.

LEFT Kate and her part­ner Rod keep chick­ens, ducks and doves; the util­ity room is dec­o­ra­tive as well as prac­ti­cal, with open shelves for stor­ing pretty, vin­tage vases. RIGHT In the kitchen, an is­land unit con­tains all the ap­pli­ances apart from the fridge, leav­ing room for Kate’s an­tiques to take cen­tre stage; a dresser top to the side of the Aga houses a huge col­lec­tion of sponge­ware.

The or­angery has been sym­pa­thet­i­cally de­signed to seam­lessly blend with the house. Kate has worked tire­lessly on the gar­den to cre­ate a flour­ish­ing idyll; the path to the front door is lined with fra­grant laven­der.

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