When Sarah and Andrew were first shown the house they went on to buy in Datchworth, they realised that all the other viewers were missing a trick. A large cottage with a decent sized kitchen opposite some woods and a village pub in a leafy historic Hertfordshire village, with cricket on the green? Illustrious neighbours and an easy commute to London? Plenty space for the boys to play out and grow up in an idyllic setting? Why hadn’t the house been snapped up?
They soon came to realise that the only things wrong with the place were the aesthetics. Painted a tired mustard yellow and with a kitchen that had seen better days, they realised that with a bit of serious work, they could turn the cottage into something really special.
IDEALIST: What attracted you to the area?
Sarah: We loved the countryside, good pubs, great school and friends and proximity to London.
IDEALIST: Was it love at first sight?
Sarah: I wouldn’t say love at first sight but potential at first sight! The location was spot on as was the layout of the house it was all cosmetic and knew that could all be changed and adapted to our taste/style.
IDEALIST: When did you realise you were seeing the house differently from other viewers?
Sarah: The Estate Agent mentioned that a lot of people had been put off by the colour of the outside of the house and the dark/dated interior but it’s amazing what a lick of paint can achieve!!
IDEALIST: What did you decide to do first?
Sarah: We planned a 2 month renovation for the get go as we knew we only wanted to proceed with the purchase if we could make the changes so we ripped out the kitchen and put a new one in, put engineered oak floorboards throughout on the ground floor and put seagrass upstairs throughout. We painted all the window and door frames and doors and changed the door furniture. Every room was painted and the whole house was lightened up. We choose Bert and May tiles for the kitchen and in the fireplace in the sitting room.
IDEALIST: How did you choose DeVol for the kitchen?
Sarah: We loved the DeVOL kitchens from the start and it was love at first sight!
IDEALIST: How would you describe your style?
Sarah: I would describe our style as eclectic, quirky and warm with a hint of our travels in France and Morocco. Luckily we pretty much agree on both things, I would say my style is a bit more eclectic than Andrew’s but he reigns me in if he’s not happy or comfortable with something and usually he’s right so I really value his opinion.
IDEALIST: What did you do in detail?
We spent a lot of time choosing the paint colours as they’re subtly different through-out, I wanted the house to flow and nothing to jar but to have subtle colours flowing throughout the house and to provide a backdrop for all our things as we’re not minimalists!
IDEALIST: The look throughout feels very established – quirky and historical, but very tasteful — how has that come about?
I think my taste has evolved over time, I’m a great fan of Rita Konig, Anna Spiro and Kit Kemp and find their styles hugely inspiring. We always try and buy interesting things when we’re on holiday and I’m always going to antiques fairs and bric a brac shops. It’s always nice when your home tells a story about you and your family and to be a warm and inviting place to live and share with friends and family.
IDEALIST: How do you love the house now?
We love the house and are excited about it continuing to evolve, we need more furniture, curtain and paintings and things to properly fill the house but that will happen over the course of time so it’s exciting to think about what it will look like when we’ve reached that stage. Although I’m always collecting and moving things around so nothing stays the same forever!
IDEALIST: What’s next for you?
I think the next thing is to do a bit more in the sitting room to get it a bit more ready for Christmas. A log burner, a pair of armchairs, a console table and some fab lamps would be a start.
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Photographs courtesy of Tim Cooper for DeVol kitchens and Sarah and Andrew.