How did you find your home and how would you describe your first "look?"
We found our home on a UK property website called Zoopla. It's similar to Homes.com or Zillow in the US. When we found out that we needed to move out of our rented accommodation in London because the owner had decided to sell it we knew we had to make a choice: stay in London for another year or expedite our plans of moving out to the countryside. My husband Ben nor I grew up in big cities and we knew for the family we hoped to have one day we didn't want kids growing up in a big city like London. It's an amazing place to live but like all big cities it can make kids grow up too fast.
So we saw our home first online before seeing it in person. I refreshed our search results (which had filtered down to the number of bedrooms, baths and price) and one afternoon our house popped up. It had been advertised for a few months but had the price reduced to attract potential buyers, which meant it finally fell into our search results. I remember the moment when I first saw it because I said to my husband who was driving at the time "I found our house!"
I actually have a picture of the first time we saw the property the weekend after we found it online. I remember we were trying to do a number of house viewings in one day and all across the country (because we weren't set on a certain area but it needed to be within commuting distance to London where I work). So we saw a property in Kent right before and were rushing to make this viewing in Suffolk. I think we were both overwhelmed when we first saw our house in person. I could feel it had a bit of soul and had the most amazing atmosphere when you walked it, but I was also daunted by the amount of work that needed to be done. It started to make sense why the price had dropped- no one wanted to take on such a big project. My husband was overjoyed by the amount of space and potential for the outbuildings (stables, wood sheds, annexes).
Ambrice seeing the house for the first time.
How would you describe your style and how has it influenced your home?
I would describe our style as refined but relaxed. My husband and I both love art and want to be surrounded by it but are adverse to the art feeling pretentious. So we'll style a contemporary screen print we found at an arts market next to an 18th oil painting. I love the drama of big pieces of art and bold wall colours. Without a doubt my parents influenced my style and as a result our home. My parents' home is beautiful, they too opting for oversized paintings to accentuate the scale of a room.
A showcase of Ambrice's extensive art collection and anitque finds
When did you start the renovation process - had you done it before?
We began the renovation process almost as soon as we moved in. In fact, within the first two days we'd ripped out the kitchen, which I would NOT recommend! It meant we went without a kitchen for about 4 months.
The kitchen in the midst of the renovation
A look inside the kitchen post renovation
We've never done renovation as such before but we are both very hands-on and keen to do as much of it ourselves. Namely, because we wanted a really nice finish and were willing to sacrifice the speed of completing the renovation for the finish we wanted.
The main hallway under renovation
The finished hallway
What has been the most rewarding and challenging thing thus far with your renovation?
For me it's the moment when all of the tools are put away and the house is cleared up and you can see everything that we've done and how the house has changed. I think during the renovation process, it's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees. Also, you only see a never ending list of things to do, but when you do take a moment to stop and look around it's an amazing feeling knowing what you've accomplished.
The most challenging thing about this renovation is because our house is a period property with parts of the house dating back to the 1650s there is not a single straight line in sight. This means that every single piece of trim has to be cut to measure and a lot of things have to be done to what looks good eye rather than precise measurements because nothing is perfectly parallel or perpendicular.
Which room are you most proud of?
For my husband (nicknamed the Lumberjack) would without a doubt say the room he is most proud of is the utility room and downstairs bathroom. There was literally nothing there when we moved in three years ago and he did all of the plumbing and built all of the cabinetry. He also did all of the downstairs bathroom (excluding the tiling), which is easily one of my favorite and most luxurious spaces in the house. I'm so proud of how he's transformed that space.
Is there an item from your antique business, Relic, that's your favorite? Is it in your home right now?
The genesis of Relic, my antiques business, is my love of researching and sourcing beautiful pieces of art. There are so many pieces that I adore and I fall in love with each new piece. Some of my favorites are an oil painting from 1851 after a 17th century painting titled Allegory of Infidelity. The scale of this painting is breathtaking and hangs in our stairwell. It makes my heart skip a beat every time I see it.
There's another, it's an antique plaster bust from the Louvre which was a copy of a marble sculpture by Francesco Laurana in the 15th century. It's stunning and elegant and it's simplicity. Though I originally bought both of these pieces to sell on I have a feeling they'll be a part of our collection for many years to come.
Ambrice's sketch of the utility room
The finished utility room
The map room
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