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The old-fashioned charm of this Flemish house is, in fact, a beautiful piece of artifice. Its rustic terracotta roof and ancient beams suggest it was built several hundred years ago, but the structure actually dates from 1946. The building was completely refurbished, including new windows, roof tiles and flooring, quite recently. ‘We wanted to enlarge the living spaces and bring in lots more light,’ say the owners of the three large rooms, including this drawing room, that now make up the ground floor.
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Internal walls were knocked down and numerous windows put in to make the interiors feel open and light, while a subtle colour scheme enables the owners to use an eclectic range of decorative styles to dress the home. The drawing room, for example, is a study in tone-on-tone shades of grey: the colour appears on walls, limed wood furniture, floors and soft furnishings, and the effect is extraordinarily restful. The occasional flash of Chinese red, aquamarine or yellow ochre is carefully meted out to retain the overall balance.
The main aesthetic change internally was to introduce lots of wood. 'We removed a good deal of stone and replaced it with reclaimed oak,' say the owners. 'This was used to create natural-looking beams, a new staircase and panelling. We even made cupboards in our dressing room using old shutters rescued from a French château. I researched and found every piece of wood myself, which was a painstaking task.'
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Reclaimed Flooring Company
The capacious hall, which doubles as a formal dining room, is typical of the eclectic decoration throughout the house. 'There's a real mix of cultures and eras in our house, from oriental and traditional English furniture, to French pieces in the style of Louis XV,' say the owners. 'But it's a very relaxed way of living and it brings antique charm together with modern functionality.'
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Another important phase of the owners' work was to convert an old barn in the garden into luxurious guest accommodation. The finished building now sleeps five, has its own kitchen and bathroom, and a 29-foot high living space that is dominated by a huge distressed leather Chesterfield.
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A traditional French style reigns in the guest bedroom, courtesy of a gentle grey-and-ochre colour scheme and a nostalgic toile. The glazed peephole window overlooks the vast living space below.
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