Plain crusing: a vibrant reboot for an previous Norfolk home | Serena Fokschaner | Life and magnificence


When it involves adorning, most of us default to the security of white partitions and well mannered furnishings. But you don’t want a diploma in decor to tug off a house ablaze with hothouse particulars and colourfully upcycled furnishings. With a bit steering from the professionals, you may step away from the timidity of taupe and into the nice and cozy embrace of vivid patterns, over-scaled furnishings and straightforward combine and matchiness.

Which is strictly what occurred to Emma Sumner when she and her husband Martin purchased their household residence on the north Norfolk coast. Perched on a delicate hill, the quintessentially East Anglian brick-and-flint home had a nostalgic attraction for the couple, who’ve 2 younger kids.

“We used to have a small cottage along the coast and had very many happy times there,” mentioned Emma. “As our own family grew, and as our friends started having children, we decided to look for somewhere larger. Martin and I spent our school holidays not far from here when we were young, and the views across the dunes and shingle to the sea are very evocative. We can cycle to the beach from the house and in summer there’s kayaking and sailing – both of which remind us of our childhoods.”

Fifty shades: the essential layout of the kitchen was maintained but the wooden cupboards were painted in a warm grey.

Fifty shades: the important structure of the kitchen was maintained however the wood cabinets have been painted in a heat gray. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

The creeper-smothered arches of the Gothic facade additionally beguiled them. “The house was once part of an estate and had been lived in by the same family almost since it was built,” says Emma, who works in finance. “It had a contented, cared-for really feel. I’d name it good-looking quite than lovely. It additionally had a stunning backyard with a mixture of formal and casual areas. We knew our youngsters would have numerous enjoyable exterior.

“Like most homes of the Edwardian period,” continues Emma, “it’s well built – and we liked the sensibly sized rooms with their solid walls.”

The time-warp ornament of clean partitions and chintz-choked rooms wanted a critical re-boot for the younger household.

“We wanted to breathe new life into the house. We wanted to make it young, fun – and bright,” she says. “But as I usually just stick to white I realised we needed help.”

A piece colleague had proven Emma images of a undertaking by interior designer Stephen Ryan. “I loved the colour and irreverence of his style. But at that point I thought designers were for other people.” A gathering with Ryan overturned her preconceptions. “The process was surprisingly straightforward. Stephen came to our house. He asked about the way we live and how we wanted the new home to work. I sent photos and our list of wants. He came up with ideas for furniture, layouts and fabrics.”

Original panelling in the dining room with two elegant lamps and a large vase on a sideboard

Wall artwork: authentic panelling within the eating room. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

Instead of lavish knock-throughs, deft tweaks launched extra gentle into the dim inside, which detracted from the frosty really feel. In the lounge, a slim opening was changed with double doorways to open up the area. New panes of glass in different doorways helped hyperlink the inside to the backyard, which has huge stone steps and trim topiary. There is extra foliage within the backyard room, the place Sylvanian households and Lego citadels populate the emerald rug. A trompe-l’oeil wallpaper of lichen-clad brickwork masks plain partitions.

“At first I couldn’t imagine how the design would look. But I trusted Stephen. Trust takes you a long way,” says Emma. For occasion, upstairs within the spare bed room, a fussy, stained-glass roundel is now clear so visitors can gaze out – like voyagers cosy of their cabin – on to church spires rising from the reclaimed marshland which stretches to the coast.

There is a nod to the maritime setting within the eating room the place a lagoon-blue ceiling provides drama. The panelling is authentic and sits effectively with the massive Victorian desk the couple inherited. “Our previous home was much smaller so this is the first time we’ve been able to use it.”

Emma and her daughter on steps in the garden with the flint and brick  house behind

Step change: Emma and her daughter within the backyard. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

A shiny blue additionally glows within the visitor cloakroom the place the china-patterned wallpaper is a backdrop for Emma’s assortment of vintage plates. The tiles are authentic, however as a substitute of the “twee” dado, a sliver of mirror provides a glossy contact. The blowsy Venetian chandelier, which seemed frumpy within the bed room it used to hold in, has taken on a brand new persona. “Because this is a smaller room, it feels less serious,” she says. “It’s a bit tongue in cheek.”

Upstairs, patterned wallpaper brings heat to a north-facing bed room. Downstairs, some shrifty re-invention (each designer’s secret weapon) within the kitchen meant “the serviceable layout” was retained, however solid-wood cabinets have been repainted in a “sort of Christian Dior bag grey” to counteract the country tiles.

If you might be nonetheless uncertain that adorning could be a voyage of self-discovery, Emma makes a persuasive argument. “We’ve learned how to be creative with the things we have, but not in an expensive way. Part of the reason most of us tend to stick to neutrals is because we’re afraid of getting things wrong, but you can go wrong with a grey room, too. Working on this house has made me much braver about using colours and patterns. This is the real me.”

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