Check out our latest magazine... Read Online

Home Style: Time to Heal

After losing her husband, Tracy Nors threw all her energies into renovating a period terrace in the pretty town of Rye

Tracy Nors’s world was turned upside down when her husband Jesper died suddenly in the summer of 2016. “He had a seizure when he was out in the car with our son Indigo and it turned out he had a brain tumour. He died 11 weeks later,” said Tracy.

Artist Tracy, who also has two older sons, Joe and Christian, from her first marriage, had been renting a property in Hawkhurst with Jesper and Indigo. They were looking to buy but everything rested on secondary school options for Indigo. Not long before Jesper died they had finally decided on a school between Hastings and Rye.

In the aftermath, the pressure to move intensified. “Our rented house was big and the bills were high, so it was crippling me. I started to look about three months after he died, which was really traumatic,” said Tracy.

She was left with the task of finding a new home and decided a renovation project might help distract her from her grief.

“I saw two properties that I liked and would have been able to move straight into, but they didn’t work out. Then I didn’t see anything for almost two months. I had to get the mortgage offer renewed. That’s when I decided a renovation project might help me, mentally,” she recalled.

When she saw the cottage that was to become her home, she knew it was the right one for her and Indigo. “I walked in and thought, ‘Okay, it's not the best house I’ve ever seen, but it feels right.’ There was something charming about it and I could see myself here. It had some nice original features and I liked its proximity to the centre of town,” she said.


Everything went smoothly until the day of completion, when Tracy’s removal van arrived at the new property and the previous owner hadn’t packed up. Quite the opposite in fact. “My delivery guy turned up and he could see she was actually serving dinner down in the kitchen.”

A problem had arisen with the purchase of the vendor’s new property, which had gone to probate. “We were due to exchange and complete on the same day so I had everything booked in, but then it didn’t happen and we had to move in with a friend. I insisted we complete within five days or the deal was off,” remembered Tracy.

Five days later, they were in. The walls were covered in wood-chip and painted in garish colours. Tracy set about having the bathroom re-done, the kitchen updated and the house completely redecorated, as well as new electrics and some tweaks to the pipeworks.

“The kitchen cabinets were nice and solid so I kept those, but repainted them, adding a new worktop, sink, tiles and flooring,” said Tracy.

The space now features teal cabinets, off-white walls and fun star-motif tiles. The glazed green cooker splashback and the turquoise-topped table offer further pops of colour.

For the joinery and renovation, Tracy found a builder who came highly recommended, but she undertook most of the painting herself – including the spindles on the four flights of stairs. “Every single one had to be rubbed down, and then they had to have two coats of undercoat and two top coats. I did all of that myself right up until the top floor when I cried down the phone to my mum! I got people in to do the last bit.”

The sitting room is painted in cool greys with splashes of colour in the original fireplace tiles and Tracy’s eclectic collection of artwork, including some of her own abstract paintings.

The master bedroom, at the top of the house, boasts a huge Rococo-style bed and accents of blue in the accessories.

The bathroom was the biggest transformation. The old bath was ripped out and now the space features a beautiful pale blue bateau bath and large shower. Bold Neisha Crosland vinyl tiles line the floor and the woodwork is painted in a buttercream hue. The sink console is a customised piece of furniture inherited from Tracy’s mother.


Tracy and her late husband lived in Denmark, where Jesper was from, between 2004 and 2010. Tracy was influenced by the Scandi style, as is evident in the painted floorboards in the sitting room and the pale backdrop in the main spaces.

Tracy and Indigo lived with the chaos and mess of the renovation for a total of 11 months. “We had bare floorboards with nails jutting out. I kept having to pull them out to stop us cutting our feet on them. It wasn't ideal,” she remembered.

Although the process was cathartic, the reality of living there without Jesper hit home when the project was finally complete.

“I'm really proud of what I’ve done with this house and it was like 11 months of therapy,” said Tracy, ‘but afterwards, it was like, ‘Okay, I’ve done the house, but he's still not here.’”

However, time, as they say, is a great healer, and Tracy is starting to reap the rewards of all her hard work. “As time has gone on, I’ve grown to really love the place.”


Photography: Richard Gadsby/Living4media

Words: Amy Maynard/ Living4media

More from Features

  • SPECIAL OFFER: General Admission Tickets To The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting

    We’ve got a special offer for general admission tickets for all of our Hidden members to this internationally renowned event on either Friday 21 or Saturday 22 June - RSVP on our ticket page and we'll send you a QR code for entry for TWO people!

  • Home Style: Pastures New

    The grass really was greener for this family, who left behind their recently remodelled London house for a new life in the country

  • Struck from Above: Why Lightning Loves a Tree

    When trees get struck by lightning it can be a very dramatic event, as Peter Erridge explains

  • City Breaks: Ideas to Inspire You

    Would you like to escape the everyday and broaden your horizons without spending too much time and money? If so, Lisa de Silva says a city break might offer the perfect solution

  • Join Dementia Action Week

    Alzheimer’s Research UK is keen for people to get involved and help support their ground-breaking dementia research work that potentially brings new treatments closer. Fundraising Officer Francine Clarke explains why it is so important

  • What to Watch in May 2024

    From a watch-through-your-fingers true crime documentary to the return of Doctor Who, here's your guide to all the best new films & TV shows coming to screens big and small in the month of May...

  • Tracing the Rails

    Ever wondered about the history and romance of the steam train that once trickerty- trocked it’s way along the lost Steyning Line? This dynamic group of friends did, so they made a documentary about it. Sara Whatley found out more

  • NEW COMPETITION: Win Four VIP Tickets For More Radio Live 2024

    Fancy attending this year's More Radio Live in style? We've got FOUR tickets up for grabs to our VIP Marquee with all-inclusive food and drink!

  • Be Well, Move Happy: Eating Awareness and Deskercise

    Helping us to move more and eat better, this month Sara Whatley looks at eating awareness and deskercise

  • Riding to Success

    Not a coffee morning kind of couple, Alison and Henry are soon embarking on an ambitious UK tour on their 1960s scooters, all to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society. Sara Whatley finds out more

  • Home Style: Home on Wheels

    A plot on the family farm with stunning marshland views was the ideal spot for Freddie Pack and Katie McNie to build their new home – a cabin on wheels

  • Home Style: Seeing the Light

    George and Christopher Stephenson left the rat race of London for a life in the south-east countryside, transforming a dark and dated Grade-II listed farmhouse

  • Step out for St Catherine’s Hospice

    St Catherine’s Hospice popular Midnight Walk is bouncing back to the streets of Horsham on Saturday 8 June, Adele Trathan explains how readers can get involved

  • If You Ask Me... This is Beyoncé Country

    This month, Flo Whitaker considers a recent showbiz altercation and asks, “If a black woman from Texas can’t make a country album - who can?”

  • Artelium Wine – Crafted in Sussex

    As the Sussex wine industry continues to expand and lead the way for the rest of the UK it is heartwarming to find a winery that’s producing award winning wines of outstanding quality, so we sent Robert Veitch to find out more

  • Homes Extra: Expanding Space

    If you need some extra space in your home but do not want to shoulder the burden and expense of moving, then look to a small extension or home improvement, says Sara Whatley

  • Kids Zone: Mosaic Art

    Get creative with this month’s fun and sustainable activity – mosaic art. Sara Whatley explains what to do

  • Be Well, Move Happy: Gardening & Connecting with Nature

    Spring is a wonderful time of year to get out and enjoy our natural world. Sara Whatley looks at connecting with nature for wellness and gardening for fitness

  • Homes for Ukraine: Opening Your Home and Your Heart

    As the conflict in the Ukraine continues, Homes for Ukraine scheme is still keen to hear from people that are interested in hosting a Ukrainian guest, as Paul Crompton from East Sussex County Council explains

  • Charity: Age Concern Hassocks

    Fancy a new place for lunch, meeting new friends in a fun and welcoming atmosphere, or a spot of volunteering? Look no further than Age Concern Hassocks, says Sara Whatley