Take a tour of this converted engine house in Cornwall, decorated in a pared-back, rustic style

Reclamation yard finds bring eclectic style and rustic chic to a historical industrial building
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  • When searching for a holiday home, the owner had a good idea of what she wanted. ‘I was trying to find something interesting architecturally on the North Cornish coast and close to the beaches,’ she says. ‘And I fell in love with this amazing Victorian engine house as soon as I saw it from the top of the long path that leads down to it.’

    The previous owners had renovated the house beautifully, stripping back plaster to reveal stonework throughout. ‘Their renovation embraced the past and the house’s history,’ says the owner. ‘It was pared back and rustic, and a little rough around the edges. This inspired me to create a raw feel that was not too neat and not too precious. I wanted a relaxed family home that was great for holidays, and felt cost at Christmas.’



    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    The former engine house has three bedrooms, extends over five floors and is surrounded by rolling countryside. Its long path made it difficult to take things to the property, and there were lots of stairs to climb once inside.

    ‘Getting furniture in was quite a struggle as the staircase is narrow,’ says the owner. ‘One of the sofas got wedged on the stairwell, so the builders had to try another route through the window from the outside. They were even on top of each other’s shoulders trying to get it in!’

    ‘After that, there were compromises to be made when it came to choosing the rest of the furniture.’



    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    A woodburning stove creates a warm, bright welcome.

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    Living room


    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    ‘I wanted to combine rustic and industrial elements, as well as vintage finds, throughout,’ says the owner. ‘The idea was that the interior would feel as if it had been collected over time and lived in. Brand new things wouldn’t suit it. For instance, I was lucky enough to pick up an Ercol sofa on Freecycle.’


    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    ‘I’ve also added pops of colour, such as mustard, and opulent fabrics, such as velvets.’

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    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    Stainless steel and a painted concrete floor are in keeping with the property’s original purpose. The owner enjoys collecting vintage kitchenalia. ‘I pick it up whenever I see it,’ she says.

    Dining area


    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    An old church pew and school chairs work perfectly in this informal dining space. The pendant light and boar’s head were both reclamation yard finds. Get the owner’s style by foraging for natural finds. Decorate your home with twigs, berries and seasonal foliage for a beautiful festive look.

    Guest Bedroom


    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    Redecorating the house took three months. ‘I wanted to have a different theme in each room,’ says the owner. This guest bedroom, for instance, has a Moroccan edge. ‘It had an exposed, peeling paint wall and I liked the patina of it, and that inspired the Moroccan look.’

    Children’s bedroom


    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    ‘Then I opted for a stargazer look in the children’s bedroom with vintage books and a telescope.’



    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    A imposing mirror is the focal point here. ‘The whole house is such an adaptable space,’ says the owner. ‘I enjoy it just as much when I’m alone with a good book as when we’ve got a house full of friends.’



    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    The owner was keen to maximise the stunning location of the house, so built a deck area at the back of the property, complete with a hot tub, to make the most of the surrounding views. An outdoor kitchen was also added for eating outside.


    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    So what do the owners love most about living here? ‘The fact it’s a house for seasons,’ says the owner. ‘The kids spend fair-weather days in the garden, while in winter we just hunker down in front of the fire.’

    ‘I’m really pleased with how the house has come together. It’s such an amazing property and my main aim was to enhance all the elements that make it so unique. The house has a lovely warmth, especially at Christmas. It’s a very special place.’

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