Interiors

Kingshill Farmhouse | Elmley Nature Reserve

Kingshill Farmhouse Elmley Nature Reserve

Last year, I had my first visit to Elmley Nature Reserve a very special place on the Isle of Sheppey, about an hour from London. You can read about that first visit here

As that event was focusing on something else, I didn’t mention too much about the Farmhouse. At the time, accommodation at Elmley was predominately the huts and a house you could rent out, however plans were underway to renovate the dilapidated plot into something spectacular.

These images are from last year when we had a little look inside the farmhouse…

The transformation was complete when we visited in early June, and I’ll let Georgina & Gareth (who run Elmley) tell you a little about it…

“The 18th Century Farmhouse sits at the heart of the 3,300 Elmley National Nature Reserve, in 1688 King James II was locked up here and subsequently the site had falling into a state of disrepair.

The project has been in the planning for over 7 years and has been a project of passion for the Fulton/Merricks families along with the design team, which includes Dunn Architects and Francesca Rowan-Plowden Interior Designer (Battle Hall at Leeds Castle and Goodnestone Park, Kent)

The aim was to restore the house to an incredibly comfortable and special house, but keeping unique character of the house and its surroundings. As with all at Elmley the views are the priority with reinstatement of large Georgian sash windows and even windows in the showers! The house has been designed to have a comfortable, homely yet eclectic feel with vintage finds and bespoke pieces.

Along with large gardens which flow onto the Reserve, it has a large hi spec kitchen, dining room, 3 separate reception rooms, 4 ensuite bedrooms on the first floor and the second floor features a family suite of two bedrooms with a shared bathroom.

The house can be hired as a whole or taken with the other accommodation on site for private events and for limited nights a year it is available on a B&B basis.”

Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse Bedroom
Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse Bedroom

One of the beautiful bedrooms in the farmhouse, possibly my favourite one!

Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse Reception Room

One of the reception rooms

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Details from the Whiskey Room (reception room 3)

Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse Kitchen
Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse Kitchen
Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse Kitchen

The kitchen is stunning, full of light, all the storage you could want, I loved everything about it especially the tiles used behind the stove.

The Cottage

Elmley’s cottage has been renovated into a beautifully light, open plan space with uninterrupted views of the reserve. It’s a peaceful, tranquil space with a real sense of seclusion.

Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse The Cottage
Elmley The Cottage
Elmley The Cottage
Elmley The Cottage

The Barn

My favourite space at Elmley is the barn, the light here is beautiful, it’s somehow vast and intimate at the same time and we were lucky enough to be treated to dinner.

Elmley The Barn
Elmley The Barn
Elmley The Barn
Elmley The Barn
Elmley The Barn
Elmley The Barn
Elmley The Barn

A Nights Stay

We were very lucky to be offered a stay in the Farmhouse, waking up here was beautiful! Of course the Shepherd huts are also available if you want to really immerse yourself in the natural surroundings.

Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse Bedroom
Elmley Kingshill Farmhouse Bedroom
Elmley Shepherds Huts
Elmley Shepherds Huts
Elmley Shepherds Huts

I can’t recommend a stay at Elmley enough, it’s not often you get to be off grid, within a nature reserve, with hens and hares scuttling past you whenever you venture outside and it’s just an hour from London!

Elmley Nature Reserve website

My stay was gifted but all thoughts my own.

CLIENT | Soho House

Last year I had the pleasure of a working with Soho House and officially photographing at a number of their houses, from interiors, to menus to behind the scenes in their kitchens. It was a year long project and one I thoroughly enjoyed. The content I created was mainly used to top up their numerous individual Instagram accounts.

Each House has their own account and constant, creative story telling imagery is hard to keep up with in-house when I think there are something like 30+ accounts to manage.

Below is a collection of favourites

Cafe Boheme, Soho


Dean St Townhouse, Soho


White City House, West London


Electric Diner, Portobello Road

One year on... leaving London

When we moved last August, I just felt instant relief and gratitude. I wasn’t happy to leave ‘home’ I was happy to leave our little flat (you can see it here). Living and working in that space had become a little soul destroying. We had been sleeping on a sofa for about 6 months and lets just say the sofa wasn’t quite long enough to keep your feet on. Trying to work around two energetic little things, trying to afford nursery fees to work and standing up for hours at a computer perched on a chest of drawers to edit was just no fun. We had tried desperately to find a property in London but anything with the space we wanted was just out of our price range and I had a want list that probably would make Kirstie off of Location, Location, Location, pretty mad. (Things like, you know, being able to park near your home, a garden and a separate space to work)

So we widened our search from Cheltenham to Bristol to all the home counties and eventually we found THE house, well part of a house, a 1850s manor house that has been split into four properties in West Sussex, with a direct train to Victoria in less than an hour. So we moved and last August was glorious.

We enjoyed the overgrown but established garden with it’s hazelnut and plum trees, the wild strawberries vying for light in the overgrown borders, picking our own blackberries that were entwined within the giant hydrangea (there’s a giant hydrangea!) And a washing line. And the swings and tree house obviously won over Eden & Haven. The house is surrounded by trees, trees so tall it would take a four year old a week to climb (with safety harness and full PPE obvs.)

There was space for our things to rest, instead of being piled up, squashed in or forgotten in boxes and bags. A space to work, what a luxury to have a place to create. And bedrooms for everyone, no more sofa surfing. There’s even parking!

back of the house

back of the house

Before; master bedroom

Before; master bedroom

Before; master bedroom view back from the bay window (door to left leads to the original ensuite)

Before; master bedroom view back from the bay window (door to left leads to the original ensuite)

Before; master bedroom original ensuite

Before; master bedroom original ensuite

There was an overlap of about a month where Michael pretty much tried to make the house decent before we came. Whilst on viewing, things looked in pretty good condition, lots of things were hidden and didn’t come up on survey (what is the point of a survey?!) also the sale took about 9 months and the sellers pretty much stopped taking care or doing any upkeep so the carpets which had looked ok, needed to be taken out (pets!) and no amount of bleaching and scrubbing could get rid of the built up grime in the bathrooms, the ensuite in the master bedroom was so revolting we just shut the door and hoped it would go away!

So our original plan had been to gut it and start again, adding a new kitchen and replacing floors and bathrooms. However with quotes and inspection, things came up that ate our budget, like holes in the roof, the boiler needing replacing, radiators broken, electrics, wiring, the water pressure needing to be corrected.. the windows, as the house is on high ground, south facing, with views of Christopher Robin’s 100 Acre Forest (Ashdown Forest) the back of the house and all the windows, take the full brunt of the elements and there was a lot of specialised work needed to repair the original window frames.

So rethinking our budget we did what we could and have left the rest for phase two which will commence I hope in the next few years (!)

So all the boring things that take up so much money but leave things looking exactly like they were; roof, boiler, radiators, electrics, water, wiring and 4 of the worst windows (because they are original and it cost an incredible amount of money to repair them!) And then we started on the bathrooms because they made you feel dirtier after using them.

The master bedroom had an ensuite (the one we had locked up never to be used) that you entered from the side of the room. As the room felt so huge (it was possibly bigger than our entire London flat) Michael’s vision was to use the bay window area of the room and create an ensuite in that space.

He thought the bay was an awkward space you couldn’t put a wardrobe or a bed in it without it blocking the light, it was a nice vista but, I guess living in and converting 3 tiny flats from one bed to two beds, he saw it as prime real estate!

I really couldn’t envision the end result but knowing what Michael can do I left it up to him entirely. My grand plan was a dressing table would have used the space adequately but when you see the after pictures, what did I know?!

So our builders gutted the old ensuite, blocked the entrance and created a new entrance on the other side (we’ll get to this extra  bathroom later), then following Michael’s design built a room divider of wardrobes – one for each of us! (I haven’t had my own wardrobe since I left home!) And within the bay created this, I guess, showstopper bathroom complete with copper bath, a his and her sink (ok, ok it's a basin) and a walk in shower. (I will list all the supplier details at the end)

We went for a dark blue colour because, it seemed the time to try something new. Although we are not quite sold on the colour…

The final part was to sand the original floorboards and stain them. These too, we feel, are not quite the right colour but our plan is to eventually sand and stain the rest of upstairs (there are just Ikea rugs hiding the bare boards at the moment) but we can’t quite decide what to do, as 50% of the floor boards need replacing, should we replace them or lay a wood on top and if so what wood?! But those are decisions are for the future.

After; master bedroom dividing wall of wardrobes

After; master bedroom dividing wall of wardrobes

After; ensuite

After; ensuite

House Renovations West Sussex.jpg
House Renovation West Sussex.jpg
After, master bedroom and where the door to the old ensuite used to be

After, master bedroom and where the door to the old ensuite used to be

After; master bedroom (need to do something with that light bulb!)

After; master bedroom (need to do something with that light bulb!)

Back to bathrooms.

Next to our bedroom is the family bathroom, it was originally, we think, one long room encompassing the ensuite (which has the window) but a long time ago it was split to create the ensuite and the family bathroom is accessed by the hallway. We moved (I mean the builders) moved the dividing wall back 3 feet or so, which meant we could fit in a separate bath and shower. This space is now a joy to bath the kids in each night. We used the same floor tiles as the ensuite but kept this room light in colour and the walls free of clutter so that it feels as open and as spacious as possible. There was a lot of debate trying to squeeze things in just so and our builders were driven a little mad by Michael’s niche obsession. All the bathrooms have built in niches instead of having shelving or things hanging just to try keep things streamlined and create a nice flow.

Before; Family Bathroom (nice bath head rest!)

Before; Family Bathroom (nice bath head rest!)

After; Family Bathroom

After; Family Bathroom

House Renovation West Sussex.jpg

So by using the bay of the bedroom as the ensuite, this enabled us to create a completely new third bathroom. It’s an almost exact replica of our bathroom in our London flat, same wall tiles (slightly lighter green) and shower over bath idea but the funky Chadder toilet feature was actually left behind in the utility room downstairs. It was covered in limescale, so much so we didn’t think we could save it. Michael spent two days repairing it until it shone and we moved it upstairs to this room. This bit of the house is a little strange it’s like a forgotten annex, there’s a door separating it from the main landing and it has two little bedrooms back to back and now this new addition of a very pretty ensuite. It’s kind of become the guest area and maybe we will AirBnB it in the future. Still deciding. Would anyone like to visit the ‘west wing’?!!

before original master bedroom ensuite (original doorway blocked up and new door created where mirrored cabinet is)

before original master bedroom ensuite (original doorway blocked up and new door created where mirrored cabinet is)

Original Ensuite becomes a third bathroom

Original Ensuite becomes a third bathroom

view back via new doorway one of the two small bedrooms - those floors really need doing!

view back via new doorway one of the two small bedrooms - those floors really need doing!

back garden, veranda, despite the crumbliness I fell in love with this part of the house.

back garden, veranda, despite the crumbliness I fell in love with this part of the house.

There is still so much to do, flooring for the entire house (excluding the rooms above) and all of downstairs, including a kitchen (a dreamy Devol one is top of my list maybe in a few years?). Plus more maintenance of course, but little by little. I've listed all the supplier details below. I hope you liked this! I'd love to hear your renovation stories or any advice on the bits we are stuck on please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading this xx

Supplier Details

Interior Design & Planning

Michael Frawley contact michael.frawley@hotmail.co.uk

Master Ensuite

Copper Bath | Cast Iron Bath

Double Basin | Lusso Stone

Blue Metro Tiles | Tons of Tiles

Mirror | Maisons Du Monde

Chandelier | Debenhams but discontinued, this is similar

Floor Tiles | Furnace Iron Fired Earth

Paint | Dulux Breton Blue in Matt, Gloss & Eggshell

Paint | All whites Dulux

Wall Cabinet | Ebay

Family Bathroom

Wall Tiles | Tile Mountain

Basin | Bathstore

Basin Mixer | Heritage Bathrooms

Bath | Victorian Plumbing

Chandelier | Debenhams but discontinued, this is similar

Mirror | Maisons Du Monde but Discontinued similar here

Old Ensuite, now third bathroom

Wall Tiles (Valencia Mist have been discontinued) these are similar | Fired Earth

Floor Tiles | Fired Earth

Chadder Cistern and Accessories | Chadder & Co

Building Work

Carried out by Paul & Ray (and Team) | The Project Works