I never thought Aaron and I would be in a position to move permanently to the country, the demands of running our business in the city meant our focus and time had to remain centred on London. Regardless of this, I still harboured a dream of moving to a picturesque rural village and enjoying a more tranquil, balanced lifestyle. Then, in 2020 the situation changed when lockdown hit, which was for us as I expect it was for so many, an extremely challenging time. It did however show us the success and possibilities of remote working, and we had confidence that we could effectively run our design studio in London and live a more idyllic life in the countryside. It prompted Aaron and I, along with our daughter Willow, son Fox, and our beloved British shorthair cats, to make a new home for ourselves in Hampshire, which had captured my heart many years ago. After viewing over 20 properties, I fell in love with this one as soon as I came up the drive.
Our home is a detached five bed Georgian property, with a majestic but mellowed redbrick exterior. Inside it has more than enough space for the needs of our family, with three floors and plenty of room for daily life, work and hosting gatherings. The sizable garden was a big selling point for us, and our lifelong dream of having a swimming pool finally came true this summer when we took the plunge (literally) and built a pool in the garden. The property also has a barn which we plan on turning into a guesthouse one day.
The location strikes my perfect balance of countryside and the sense of community I craved. I was initially hesitant to move fully rural, but here we have neighbours as well as views out across open fields. When we first arrived, we had the amazing surprise of discovering that we had sheep in the field at the end of our garden! On our doorstep we have the pretty market town of Alresford with its beautiful Georgian period buildings and a wonderful mix of boutiques and restaurants. We are really getting involved in rural life, with a calendar full of community celebrations such as the annual duck race, our personal favourite! I truly think this is a perfect corner of England, yet just an easy 90 minute commute into London.
The allure of this house was that it had all the potential to renovate and make it our own, but it wasn’t a complete back-to-brick renovation, so we were able to live in it and take our time with the works. While it had been well maintained by previous owners, it sported colourful carpets and a bright green kitchen which just wasn’t our style. We wanted to create a relaxed family home with a strong country vibe and a balance of heritage and modern. Our previous house in London was quite contemporary and fully open plan, but after lockdown we appreciated the privacy and practicality of separate rooms in a more traditional Georgian layout.
The first stage of our renovation included fully redesigning the kitchen, creating a separate home study for remote working, and completely redecorating throughout. One of our favourite spaces is at the very top of the house, a home cinema room which we transformed from a bedroom and now gets used for family film nights, complete with a popcorn machine!
We used lots of natural materials such as linen, aged bronze and reclaimed timber to create a home that feels lived in, warm and well-loved. The soft neutral colour palette was very intentional to create a soothing scene in every room. I love the serenity of coming home after a long, busy day in London to sit by of a roaring fire with my family, and occasionally a glass of wine.
My local recommendations:
- Where to eat: Some favourite local restaurants in New Alresford are Pulpo Negro - they do amazing tapas, Party at the Mill for brunch or for cocktails in the evening, The Three Horseshoes for the best pub lunch in Hampshire and the lovely owners, who have become friends, have recently opened The Townhouse in the centre of Alresford which is the chicest restaurant and bar with coworking spaces upstairs and our new favourite spot.
- Where to visit: We love to visit Hinton Ampner which is a stunning Grade II listed National trust property near Alresford. It boasts beautiful lawned gardens with avenues of sculptured topiary and roses with views over the South Downs.