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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.