Any illusion you might have that you are visiting a traditional Kent family household is neatly dispelled at the gates. There, dozing in the shade amid wild flowers and ornamental rhubarb is a 1960s Morris Minor. Not that unusual, you might think. And it wouldn’t be, were it not for the fact that this particular Morris Minor is pebble-dashed. 

TEST Mel and Lizzie’s kitchen was the final area to be tackled in the main house, née cowshed. One wall is covered with a framed series of 42 black and white shots of Lizzie. “Usually, only one or two shots are chosen from a shoot but in this case I thought it would interesting to have them all,” Mel says

Mel and Lizzie’s kitchen was the final area to be tackled in the main house, née cowshed. One wall is covered with a framed series of 42 black and white shots of Lizzie. “Usually, only one or two shots are chosen from a shoot but in this case I thought it would interesting to have them all,” Mel says

TEST The spur for the kitchen renovation was the size of the original Aga – and appetites of Mel and Lizzie’s six children

The spur for the kitchen renovation was the size of the original Aga – and appetites of Mel and Lizzie’s six children

TEST The beautifully ordered storage shelves

The beautifully ordered storage shelves

TEST Once every available space on the walls of the high-raftered sitting room was covered with Mel’s work, but a recent re-think has banished them to the loft. On one wall, Mel and Lizzie have framed a collection of their children’s old toothbrushes which adds a fun splash of colour

Once every available space on the walls of the high-raftered sitting room was covered with Mel’s work, but a recent re-think has banished them to the loft

TEST On one wall, Mel and Lizzie have framed a collection of their children’s old toothbrushes which adds a fun splash of colour

On one wall, Mel and Lizzie have framed a collection of their children’s old toothbrushes which adds a fun splash of colour

TEST Carefully-chosen favourite family photos stand high on the wall opposite the fireplace. In pride of place, however, is not a photograph but Lizzie’s father’s cap respectfully framed

Carefully-chosen favourite family photos stand high on the wall opposite the fireplace. In pride of place, however, is not a photograph but Lizzie’s father’s cap respectfully framed

TEST A huge grape-vine tumbles over virtually the whole house. It rambles, too, over the roof of the conservatory that, with its large rough mahogany table, makes a perfect dining room.

The large rough mahogany table, makes this a perfect dining room

TEST The small passage that connects the yurt to the conservatory is clad in reclaimed timber from Symonds Salvage in Bethersden

No curtains or blinds grace the windows – there is no need – a huge grape vine tumbles over virtually the whole house, shading the panes and providing year-round interest as it flowers, fruits and fades

TEST The small passage that connects the yurt to the conservatory is clad in reclaimed timber from Symonds Salvage in Bethersden

The small passage that connects the yurt to the conservatory is clad in reclaimed timber from Symonds Salvage in Bethersden

TEST Mel and Lizzie’s pièce de résistance is a beautiful yurt that serves as their own wonderful bedroom. A second entrance to Mel and Lizzie’s yurt opens onto the garden

Mel and Lizzie’s pièce de résistance is a beautiful yurt that serves as their own wonderful bedroom. A second entrance to Mel and Lizzie’s yurt opens onto the garden

TEST Mel’s workplace is part of the eclectic collection of buildings that comprise his Pluckley home

Mel’s workplace is part of the eclectic collection of buildings that comprise his Pluckley home

TEST Mel’s clients receive a warm welcome in the building that houses the studio. The walls of the dressing and sitting areas are painted rich reds and blues in contrast to the pure white of the workspace

Mel’s clients receive a warm welcome in the building that houses the studio

TEST The walls of the dressing and sitting areas are painted rich reds and blues in contrast to the pure white of the workspace

The walls of the dressing and sitting areas are painted rich reds and blues in contrast to the pure white of the workspace

TEST Mel’s photographic studio. Here, and in the garden, he calculates that he has now photographed some 56,000 parents, grandparents and children plus a bewildering menagerie of family pets

Mel’s photographic studio. Here, and in the garden, he calculates that he has now photographed some 56,000 parents, grandparents and children plus a bewildering menagerie of family pets

TEST Clustered around the family home are an office, gallery, framing building, Lizzie’s father’s former beach hut and a glory hole known universally as the Spider Shed

Clustered around the family home are an office, gallery, framing building, Lizzie’s father’s former beach hut and a building known universally as the Spider Shed

TEST Mel and Lizzie’s garden provides many peaceful places in which to relax

Mel and Lizzie’s garden provides many peaceful places in which to relax

TEST A generously sized hammock is slung under a superb tree-house, the leafy roof of which is provided by the tree itself

A generously sized hammock is slung under a superb tree-house, the leafy roof of which is provided by the tree itself

TEST Mel made the grass sofa when he found he had some extra turf left over from an area of lawn he had dug out to create his fire pit

Mel made the grass sofa when he found he had some extra turf left over from an area of lawn he had dug out to create his fire pit

TEST In the vegetable plot different vegetables jostle in the same beds. In one, French beans stand shoulder to shoulder with Jerusalem artichokes, perpetual spinach and rhubarb

In the vegetable plot different vegetables jostle in the same beds. In one, French beans stand shoulder to shoulder with Jerusalem artichokes, perpetual spinach and rhubarb

TEST Everywhere, something green is busy at its appointed task and marshalling these horticultural troops, keeping them happy and in line must be a major commitment

Everywhere, something green is busy at its appointed task and marshalling these horticultural troops, keeping them happy and in line must be a major commitment

TEST This area was once an unusable bog but creating a stream down the centre of the garden means that it is now very useable indeed

This area was once an unusable bog but creating a stream down the centre of the garden means that it is now very useable indeed

TEST Lizzie’s favourite spring haunt, the polytunnel, can be found across the stream, brimming with salad crops and yet more flowers Left: The crimson former beach hut, that belonged to Lizzie’s father, adds a pleasing pop of colour amongst the garden foliage

Lizzie’s favourite spring haunt, the polytunnel, can be found across the stream, brimming with salad crops and yet more flowers Left: The crimson former beach hut, that belonged to Lizzie’s father, adds a pleasing pop of colour amongst the garden foliage

TEST The crimson former beach hut, that belonged to Lizzie’s father, adds a pleasing pop of colour amongst the garden foliage

The crimson former beach hut, that belonged to Lizzie’s father, adds a pleasing pop of colour amongst the garden foliage

TEST Dozing in the shade amid wild flowers and ornamental rhubarb is a 1960s Morris Minor, pebble-dashed with gravel left over from resurfacing the drive

Dozing in the shade amid wild flowers and ornamental rhubarb is a 1960s Morris Minor, pebble-dashed with gravel left over from resurfacing the drive

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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