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.
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.