As a child, one of the owners of this impressive home spent many a holiday on the North Norfolk coast. Further visits with her husband rekindled her affinity with the area, so when looking for a second home this was the obvious location. ‘Although much larger than the property we originally had in mind, we fell in love with this late-Georgian house that belonged to the former estate manager,’ she says. ‘We spent six years coming to the house during the school holidays but, four years ago, when the children left their local schools, we decided to move here from Suffolk for a more rural lifestyle. This house was the right size and it felt like the right time.’
To the left of the main house, what was originally a garage built in the 1950s has been turned into a comfortable drawing room that overlooks the garden. To conceal the modern brickwork, trellising was placed around the four sets of double doors leading on to the sheltered terrace.
When the owner, who designs fabrics and interior design schemes, took up the ceramic tiles that ran from the front to the back door, she was delighted to find the original flagstones underneath. 'Elegance and a strong sense of comfort and calm are key to all my design schemes,' she says. 'It's important to live surrounded by the possessions you love, but the trick is to balance these using subtle and discreet interior design.'
An antique Swedish commode forms the focal point in this enviable storage space that was once the laundry room. 'Our previous property was larger and more traditional in style,' says the owner, 'while this house had been a holiday home and was decorated in casual beach-house style, with painted furniture that I had picked up on regular trips to Europe. The layout worked well, though, so what I needed to do was make it cosier and give it a more lived-in family feel. In the end, I chose favourite items from both the houses, which has led to a mix of traditional polished pieces partnered with painted ones, helping to create the relaxed, informal look we wanted.'
Simple blinds were chosen for the windows as the owners felt that acres of curtain fabric would have spoilt the clean look: 'The blinds make the room appear taller and more elegant.' The Chinese panels, found in a flea market in Paris, provide the decorative interest that wallpaper would otherwise have done.
Adjoining the kitchen and dining area, this comfortable space filled with an artful combination of French antiques, contemporary works and painted furniture, is where the family likes to gather. Just as the owner has an instinctive flair for choosing the perfect piece for a specific spot, she also has a natural eye for creating a harmonious palette. 'I hadn't intended to use as much green as I have, but it's a colour I'm naturally drawn to and it turned out to be the perfect base for the whole house,' she says.
'I also like to co-ordinate the shades I use, but each room has its own character. For the open-plan living dining and kitchen space on the ground floor, for instance, I've used purple accents for the seating area, purple and pink in the dining area, and mainly pink in the kitchen with green tones to bring them all together.'
The previous owner, an architect, connected two farm outbuildings with a glass roof to create this light-filled space. When the owners moved in 10 years ago, they decided to choose work by local East Anglian artists and their colour schemes were devised to complement these pieces.
The shell mirror, although another French find, is a sweet nod to the nearby Norfolk coastline. 'I love this drawing of a sheep,' says the owner. Another work by an East Anglian artist Oliver Campion, takes pride of place opposite the bed.
The subtle, contemporary cast of the vanity unit, which was designed by the owner, prevents the guest bedroom from being quaint. As much as the owners' home is a masterclass in how to create a timeless, elegant and welcoming style, it is also a testament to the joy of piecing together a very personal look full of character and charm.