A desired escape from the city led Ian and Lara to a newly discovered part of their beloved Norfolk, and a home beyond their imaginings
Busy working lives made Lara Cole yearn for a retreat to the country, but it had to be one that afforded her partner Ian swift and efficient travelling between work and home. They’d originally set their hearts on a new home on the coast in north Norfolk, but the potential commute seemed a stretch too far, so they began looking a little further south. ‘We were looking for a spacious house with lots of outside entertaining space, and that was fairly beautiful,’ says Lara.
What initially seemed another stretch too far, was a large Grade II Listed vicarage in mid-Norfolk, but their estate agent convinced them to take a look.
‘It’s a house of two halves, really. From the front it looks like a quaint cottage and that part is from 1600s, but it then has a Victorian extension which forms the whole back of the house. So, at the front you have the smaller, quainter rooms and inglenook, and then the back is spacious with glorious high ceilings. One of the lovely things about the house is the gardens at the back, so we opened it up, added on an orangery and doubled the size to create a kitchen area. It now flows from the house to the kitchen to the garden.’
The couple had many meetings with their listed buildings officer to work out a design that suited Ian and Lara’s living needs. ‘We’ve ended up with something that works so well for us, and the light that now flows in the kitchen is amazing. It’s not even south-facing but with all the glass used and the orangery we’ve really managed to maximise the light.’
Lara says she loves how comfortable the room now feels: ‘I adore my Aga, and the way Jayne from Naked Kitchens has designed it with everything at hand, like the placement of the dishwasher in the island and plate drawers right behind for ease. The palette here reflects the skies and nature in Norfolk. Snuggling in a blanket in the sofa area with a coffee makes very early mornings with the dog a treat.’
The wine cooler also gets quite a lot of use from the couple and frees up fridge space. ‘We have Winbirri Vineyard quite near, so buy their local wines. The big oak trays, which were designed with the kitchen, have also become so useful. The oak contrast shelves that they built to fit around our current cooking equipment and pots were a great personal touch, and personalised carvings in the larder woodwork with ‘Ian’, ‘Lara’, and ‘Naughties’, mean Ian gets the chocolate and I get the seeds and nuts – it just always makes us smile.’
Overall, Lara is delighted. ‘It was a combined effort – Ian and I had some ideas, and Naked Kitchens made it what we wanted. It just feels right.’
Prices start from £25,000 at Naked Kitchens.
Photos by: Malcolm Menzies
Article by: Kate Rowe