How to Make Your Home Look Expensive

Frederick and Paula Norris weren’t planning to move when the opportunity to buy their current property came up, as Paula explains. “We didn’t exactly do any house hunting, it just happened that this cottage, which my husband’s family had lived in for four previous generations, came up for sale so we were lucky enough to be able to buy it.” The property in the New Forest has a very quirky and unique atmosphere, being a product of various constructions and additions through different generations. It is a grade II listed 17th century house, built in brick and stone salvaged from the Cistercian monastery in Bealieau after it was destroyed following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Some ship’s timbers from the nearby Tudor ship building village of Bucklers Hard were also used in the internal construction. It used to be three separate cottages but now serves as a generous three-bedroom home for the couple and their two border terriers, Leon and Ruby.

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How to Make Your Home Look Expensive

Although the house faces right on to the village street, it has quite a large and fairly secluded garden at the rear, which was once the monks’ hop garden. The sale went through smoothly and in many ways it felt like a home from home as the property was similar to the Norris’ previous abode, a farmhouse from the same era. “It’s similar in terms of age and feel, but its location is great as it’s in the centre of the village,” says Paula. The couple also recognised its huge potential, despite some unique aspects. “When we bought the house, there were original features including inglenook fireplaces, very low beamed ceilings, and abbey stone walls, but there was also a tree growing up through the ‘cat slide’ roof at the back,” she adds. In addition to some of these challenges, the house was rather dilapidated.

“There was death watch beetle, woodworm, poor wiring, damp, rotten windows and very uneven oak timber floors,” recalls Paula. “The side of the house was also falling out and had to be pulled together with a metal tie.” The first thing the couple did to make the house habitable was to renew the roof, but that in itself wasn’t straightforward. “As the house is grade II listed, repairing the roof meant taking off the clay tiles, re-felting, battening and putting back the original tiles, then replacing any cracked or broken with reclaimed ones,” says Paula. “We also had to treat the woodworm and death watch beetle, while the damp had to resolved by dry lining and insulating all the exterior walls.” Structurally, there were a few changes too. “We converted an outhouse (originally a stable and wash house) into a kitchen/diner, and joined it to the house with a glass link. Upstairs the original bathroom was accessed via the master bedroom, so we decided to create a new loo/ shower room at the front of the house,” says Paula. However the renovation project took twice as long and cost twice as much as originally planned.

“Luckily we had an excellent local builder, Keith Sanger Associates, which carried out a sensitive and excellent build and redecoration. Also, our decorating experience was made painless with the help of a local interiors firm, Crestwood of Lymington, which made all the Roman blinds as well as supplied and fitted the carpets and flooring throughout.”

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