Plain sailing: a colourful reboot for an earlier Norfolk house | Serena Fokschaner | Life and elegance


Wchicken it comes to decorating, maximum people default to the protection of white walls and neatly mannered furniture. But you don’t need a degree in decor to pull off a space ablaze with hothouse details and colourfully upcycled furniture. With a little steerage from the pros, it’s possible you’ll step clear of the timidity of taupe and into the warm include of vibrant patterns, over-scaled furniture and easy mix and matchiness.

Which is exactly what took place to Emma Sumner when she and her husband Martin bought their family place of abode at the north Norfolk coast. Perched on a gentle hill, the quintessentially East Anglian brick-and-flint house had a nostalgic appeal for the couple, who’ve 2 more youthful children.

“We used to have a small cottage along the coast and had very many happy times there,” discussed 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 sunglasses: the essential construction of the kitchen was once maintained then again the wooden cupboards had been painted in a warmth grey. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

The creeper-smothered arches of the Gothic facade moreover 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 happy, cared-for actually really feel. I’d title it handsome moderately than beautiful. It moreover had a shocking yard with a mix of formal and informal spaces. We knew our children would have a large number of relaxing external.

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

The time-warp decoration of unpolluted walls and chintz-choked rooms sought after a vital re-boot for the more youthful family.

“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 work colleague had confirmed Emma photographs of a enterprise by means of inside fashion designer Stephen Ryan. “I loved the colour and irreverence of his style. But at that point I thought designers were for other people.” A meeting 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 art work: unique panelling inside the consuming room. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

Instead of lavish knock-throughs, deft tweaks introduced further delicate into the dim within, which detracted from the frosty actually really feel. In the living room, a slender opening was once modified with double doors to open up the world. New panes of glass in several doors helped link the interior to the yard, which has large stone steps and trim topiary. There is further foliage inside the yard room, where Sylvanian families and Lego citadels populate the emerald rug. A trompe-l’oeil wallpaper of lichen-clad brickwork mask undeniable walls.

“At first I couldn’t imagine how the design would look. But I trusted Stephen. Trust takes you a long way,” says Emma. For instance, upstairs inside the spare mattress room, a fussy, stained-glass roundel is now transparent so guests can gaze out – like voyagers comfortable in their cabin – directly to church spires emerging from the reclaimed marshland which stretches to the coast.

There is a nod to the maritime environment inside the consuming room where a lagoon-blue ceiling supplies drama. The panelling is unique and sits successfully with the large Victorian table 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 alternate: Emma and her daughter inside the yard. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

A glittery blue moreover glows inside the customer cloakroom where the china-patterned wallpaper is a backdrop for Emma’s collection of antique plates. The tiles are unique, then again as an alternative of the “twee” dado, a sliver of reflect supplies a shiny touch. The blowsy Venetian chandelier, which appeared frumpy inside the mattress room it used to carry in, has taken on a brand spanking new character. “Because this is a smaller room, it feels less serious,” she says. “It’s a bit tongue in cheek.”

Upstairs, patterned wallpaper brings warmth to a north-facing mattress room. Downstairs, some shrifty re-invention (each and every fashion designer’s secret weapon) inside the kitchen supposed “the serviceable layout” was once retained, then again solid-wood cupboards had been repainted in a “sort of Christian Dior bag grey” to counteract the rustic tiles.

If you may well be however unsure that decorating generally is 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.”