When Sarah and Dean made the decision to move to Kent from Hertfordshire, they agreed that they would only buy a house they both truly loved. When they found this 16th century Wealden farmhouse near Ulcombe, in need of restoration and decoration, they knew they’d found the one.

A Welsh ‘deuddarn’ cupboard takes pride of place in the kitchen Right: Sarah met the designer of this chicken wallpaper at a craft fair in Norfolk and decided that she had to find a place for the paper in their home. The downstairs loo was one of the few rooms with sufficiently straight walls

A Welsh ‘deuddarn’ cupboard takes pride of place in the kitchen Right: Sarah met the designer of this chicken wallpaper at a craft fair in Norfolk and decided that she had to find a place for the paper in their home. The downstairs loo was one of the few rooms with sufficiently straight walls

The downstairs loo was one of the few places with sufficiently straight walls for wallpaper, one of the foibles of an historic house

The downstairs loo was one of the few places with sufficiently straight walls for wallpaper, one of the foibles of an historic house

The first room you enter, from the box-edged gravel drive, is the kitchen. It is under a cat-slide roof at the back of the house, with the ceiling raised to the roof, revealing what was once the exterior rear wall and windows of the farmhouse

The first room you enter, from the box-edged gravel drive, is the kitchen. It is under a cat-slide roof at the back of the house, with the ceiling raised to the roof, revealing what was once the exterior rear wall and windows of the farmhouse

The couple bought this Salvador Dali lithograph, from the Femmes des Fleurs series and dated 1939, in Paris. It hangs above a chaise longue that Sarah had re-upholstered by Steve Burton in Appledore

The couple bought this Salvador Dali lithograph, from the Femmes des Fleurs series and dated 1939, in Paris. It hangs above a chaise longue that Sarah had re-upholstered by Steve Burton in Appledore

Cocker Spaniels Milly and Pip enjoy the fire in the living room

Cocker Spaniels Milly and Pip enjoy the fire in the living room

The view from the kitchen window, across the lawn to the oak-framed, cart-shed-style garage

The view from the kitchen window, across the lawn to the oak-framed, cart-shed-style garage

The kitchen’s flag-stone floor was already in place when the couple bought the farmhouse and is ideal in a household where visitors often have muddy wellies – or muddy paws

The kitchen’s flag-stone floor was already in place when the couple bought the farmhouse and is ideal in a household where visitors often have muddy wellies – or muddy paws

Although Sarah and Dean brought much of their furniture from their former home in Hertfordshire – which was also 16th century in origin – they commissioned Tim Smith, a local carpenter, to make various antique-effect pieces, such as this oak coffer-cum-coffee table in the living room which was ‘distressed’ using metals chains and clever varnishing techniques

Although Sarah and Dean brought much of their furniture from their former home in Hertfordshire – which was also 16th century in origin – they commissioned Tim Smith, a local carpenter, to make various antique-effect pieces, such as this oak coffer-cum-coffee table in the living room which was ‘distressed’ using metals chains and clever varnishing techniques

The main bedroom has the pick of the views, across the garden to a newly built oak-framed cart shed, and paddocks beyond. It is also home to an impressive roll-top bath: “It’s meant to look like cast iron, but we would never have got it upstairs, and I was worried about the floor taking the weight,” says Sarah

The main bedroom has the pick of the views, across the garden to a newly built oak-framed cart shed, and paddocks beyond. It is also home to an impressive roll-top bath: “It’s meant to look like cast iron, but we would never have got it upstairs, and I was worried about the floor taking the weight,” says Sarah

Shallow stairs lead upstairs to the first floor, with a gorgeous master bedroom, modern wet room and a spectacularly wonky guest room

Shallow stairs lead upstairs to the first floor, with a gorgeous master bedroom, modern wet room and a spectacularly wonky guest room

Sarah used a darker version of the pebble flooring in the wet room for the couple’s walk-in wardrobe

Sarah used a darker version of the pebble flooring in the wet room for the couple’s walk-in wardrobe

The ‘snout’ of a 24-stone marlin, caught by Dean in Mauritius, is used as a doorstop in the master bedroom

The ‘snout’ of a 24-stone marlin, caught by Dean in Mauritius, is used as a doorstop in the master bedroom

The cosy attic bedroom, with a newly fitted en suite is reached via steep ‘paddle stairs’, as sometimes seen on yachts

The cosy attic bedroom, with a newly fitted en suite is reached via steep ‘paddle stairs’, as sometimes seen on yachts

Ascending and descending the stairs takes some practice

Ascending and descending the stairs takes some practice

A seating area in the garden with a fire-pit made by Cranbrook Iron

A seating area in the garden with a fire-pit made by Cranbrook Iron

Sarah is kept busy tending the large garden, which includes a duck pond, fruit trees and trellises, as well as a vast lawn

Sarah is kept busy tending the large garden, which includes a duck pond, fruit trees and trellises, as well as a vast lawn

The duck pond at the back of the house is thought to be the result of digging for clay to make roof tiles. When the couple decided to clear the pond and dig down to its original depth, they discovered that it was 20 feet deep. ‘The digger and driver completely disappeared out of sight,’ says Sarah

The duck pond at the back of the house is thought to be the result of digging for clay to make roof tiles. When the couple decided to clear the pond and dig down to its original depth, they discovered that it was 20 feet deep. "The digger and driver completely disappeared out of sight," says Sarah

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Helen Barton

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