Renovating a character-filled oast house has given Sally and Nick the kitchen garden and relaxed lifestyle they wanted in the Kent countryside
'After four years of living in Moscow we really craved green space and fresh air’, says Sally Rees as she reflects back on what she and her husband Nick were looking for when they moved back to England. ‘This house is a bit of a mixed bag – it has been built in stages over three different centuries, but it had the space we were looking for, coupled with fabulous views of the garden and fields beyond. The fact that it came with an oast house was an added bonus.’ So, it ticked all the boxes and more.
With its interesting history, this Grade II listed property has plenty of layers of interest and original features that the couple have been careful to preserve. The original part of the house was built in the 18th century and the oast house would have been added during the 19th century. This presented some challenges in the renovation process, meaning that architects and the local conservation officer were involved in looking over the plans before they went ahead. ‘We really wanted to incorporate the original brick walls which would have formed the external walls to the original cottage as part of the kitchen, as they add depth and character to what could have been a large impersonal space’, explains Sally. ‘We moved the kitchen to the garden room; this replaced a large 1980’s conservatory which had connected the main house to the oast house.’ It’s now a space more suited to their lifestyle and young family, which includes children, Griff, nine, and Beth, seven, as well as six chickens, a dog and a cat.
The decision to move the kitchen from another room in the house came about because it had limited views out to the garden. Now that she can cook and entertain in a larger living area with doors that open straight out into the garden, Sally is much more content. ‘I love cooking and at the moment I’m a big fan of Anna Jones and her vegetarian recipe books. Anything where I can cook with the vegetables I try and grow in our garden is really satisfying, if slightly smug inducing. Not that my children ever eat any of them’, she laughs. So, now they’re all settled and can appreciate the idyllic setting and enjoy making the most of their country escape, Sally smiles: ‘We feel very lucky indeed’.
Kitchens from Burlanes Interiors start at £35,000.
Photography: Malcolm Menzies
Article by: Emma Foale