Check out our latest magazine... Read Online

Sussex Homes: Transforming a once unloved oast into a colourful and funky family abode

Sam Fallon, who works in advertising and husband Nick, who works in publishing have transformed a once unloved oast into a colourful and funky family abode near Tunbridge Wells for themselves and their daughters Tilly and Isobel.

Sam and Nick Fallon left the bright lights of London in 2010, when their eldest daughter was seven. “We decided we wanted to make the move so that we could get access to better secondary schools,” said Sam. “We also wanted to get more space and to live in the centre of a town rather than in the suburbs of London.”

While looking at houses online, Sam happened across a converted but dated oast in a village on the outskirts of town. “Nick said we shouldn’t buy it as it would be a money pit,” recalled Sam, “and he was right! But the location was perfect. It is in the middle of the village but tucked away, so once you’re inside you still feel like you’re in the countryside, yet we are still so close to Tunbridge Wells.”


 
The interiors needed updating and Sam and Nick wanted to relocate the kitchen and reconfigure the upstairs. “Initially we moved the kitchen from the current office area into what was the living room – which looked like an old people’s home – and I slapped loads of white paint everywhere, including over the Laura Ashley wallpaper upstairs. We also did some work outside,” said Sam. “The patio outside was sinking into the pond, so we had to have new drainage laid and the decking built over the water and held in place with steel,” she continued.


 
The family then decided to wait for a few years before tackling the major overhaul upstairs. In 2017, they called in the same builders who had worked on the kitchen and reduced the numbers of bedrooms from five to four, opening up the landing and moving the bathroom into what was a bedroom. They also added a balcony in the master bedroom. Isobel, who had to sleep downstairs in the playroom during the second phase, now has her own grown-up haven in one of the roundels with a pretty bedroom and en suite.


 
The house is now full of colour and personality. The kitchen has neutral walls and dark grey units, with pops of bright hues in the chairs and accessories. The sitting room has the feel of a luxurious alpine chalet with its dark beamed ceiling, animal hides, deep-pile rug and antlers on the wall. The hall features a piano that Nick upcycled into a bar, complete with LED lights; bright fabrics pepper the house and the stairs feature a wonderful red, orange and grey striped runner. Upstairs has a modern, stylish vibe, with period accents like the beautiful beams in the spare bedroom. The monochrome bathroom is a perfect retreat for tub-fan Sam.


 
“I don’t intentionally stick to one style but I do love mid-century pieces and using colour so I try to inject as much as possible. Every now and then I think there is too much going on so I tone it down but then the colour eventually creeps back in! I don’t like stuff to be too matching. I just get things that I like,” said Sam. The house is obviously a fun and much-loved home for the family and their two dogs, bulldog Sid and lab Woody.

More from Homes and Gardens

  • Blooming Times: Dahlia Mania

    Inexpensive, hardworking plants with blooms in a vast array of colours and shapes - no flower is perfect, but dahlias come pretty close, says Flo Whitaker

  • 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

  • Blooming Times: Spring into Summer

    Say the word ‘bulb’ and thoughts of spring immediately come to mind - but there are some bulbus characters to plant now for summer colour. Flo Whitaker selects a few of her favourites

  • Home Style: Farm Stay

    While living in a tiny cabin on the family farm, Freddie and Katie Pack saved up to build their dream house on a plot a few fields away

  • Home Style: Romantic Vision

    Tim and Jenny Backshall rescued a derelict timber-framed hall house, respecting its history while future proofing for generations to come

  • Homes Extra: Dining Style

    Sara Whatley is singing the praises of the dining table and looking at different styling options for it

  • Blooming Times: Spring Fever

    February is often labelled the cruellest month in the horticultural calendar. However, Flo Whitaker suggests there is still plenty of opportunity for growth

  • Home Style: Forest Idyll

    Moving the kitchen became the start of a much bigger project for the Buckinghams, as it created opportunities to change their new home

  • Blooming Times: What's in a Name?

    Botanical Latin may seem daunting, but it’s designed to be helpful and informative, says Flo Whitaker

  • Gardening: The Benefits of Hedges

    Gardeners are a flower-obsessed lot, greedily seeking out the latest, brightest blooms. That’s all very well, but ephemeral flowers need a stage to perform on. Plant a hedge - they add structure, benefit wildlife and look good all year round.

  • Home Style: Treasure Trove

    The interior of a quaint, white-washed cottage in Sussex has been transformed into a colourful home full of character by a couple of keen collectors.

  • Blooming Times: Awesome Alliums

    Easy-going and beloved by bees - now’s the perfect time to plant allium bulbs for a spectacular display next year. Flo Whitaker picks some of her favourites.

  • Homes Extra: Truly, Madly, Deeply

    Fall in love with your soft furnishings again this autumn and make it the season to snuggle up in style, says Sara Whatley

  • Home Style: Clear Vision

    Jacqui Elliott Williams has relished bringing this elegant Victorian house back to life with confident ideas, stylish choices and creative flair.

  • Homes Extra: Parasol Power

    Pretty parasols are enjoying their moment in the sun and making our outside spaces spin with style, says Sara Whatley.

  • Blooming Times Garden Lore - Fact or Fiction?

    The horticultural world abounds with bad advice and old wife’s tales, but some pronouncements are scientifically sound, says Flo Whitaker, as she asks, “True, or false?”

  • Home Style: Beaming with Happiness

    Lisa and Matthew Good wanted a property to add value to, sell and move on – but they ended up so enamoured with their renovation that they decided to stay put.

  • Sussex Homes: Transforming a dark and unloved cottage into a Greek Escape

    Helen Robinson has transformed a dark and unloved cottage from 1837 into a bright and inviting space with a Mediterranean feel in St Leonards-on-Sea.

  • 7 Sustainable Design Tips For Hosting A Glorious Summer Garden Party

    ​​​​​​​Trying to take responsibility for our carbon footprint doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying ourselves, far from it. With a few changes, we can continue to enjoy life as we know it but with a reduced impact on the planet.

  • 5 eco ways to use old kitchen products in your garden

    So many kitchen and cleaning products ending up in landfill at the end of their lives, just think of all those sponges, scourers and rubber gloves that add to our waste problems! Here’s 5 eco ways to use old kitchen products in your garden.