Anna Ainscough is a freelance copywriter based in South West London. She has worked in television, film production and for the press, developing scripts and writing features. After a career break, Anna decided to follow her passion and now focusses on writing for design and interiors. She is a regular contributor to The Decorcafe Blog.
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Inspiring Interiors: Aline Mackenzie-Reid Updates her Grade 2 Listed Home
After a twenty year career travelling the world as an interior designer and stylist on luxury hotels and high end residential properties, it was a change in job for her husband that brought Aline McKenzie-Reid, of The Textured Room, to the South Coast and a very different kind of project – updating her Grade 2 listed home.
This characterful, timber-framed farmhouse was built in the 1600s and has listed status.
What attracted Aline most was the beautiful, large kitchen and the views from the house across the South Downs.
With high ceilings, spacious rooms and masses of period detail throughout – including this beautiful inglenook fireplace – the potential was obvious. After just one viewing, the couple made an offer on it.
Last renovated in the 1950s but barely touched since, it was clear the property required a radical but sensitive update. The age of the house and its rural location meant this this was a very different project from anything Aline had tackled before. Undaunted, she began renovations and moved into the house six months later in June 2014.
The first phase involved gutting the house, refurbishing windows, changing the floors and rewiring throughout, as well as tweaking the plumbing. The space was also reconfigured to include a boot room and study.
The discovery of some 1950s hardboard between the wallpaper and the bare brick of the building also meant they would have to replaster. The challenge was to find a way which respected the age of the building while offering modern levels of insulation. This was achieved by applying a cork based mix to the brickwork for insulation which was then overlaid with lime plaster to allow the building to breathe. For the lime plaster to breathe, however, it needed to be painted with breathable paint. This led to Aline’s discovery of Earthborn clay paint whose soft natural pigments are the perfect complement to Grade II listed houses.
A house this old is likely to hold a few surprises. One of the most alarming findings was the lack of structural support for two fireplaces positioned identically on the ground and first floors which were held in position by four 200 year old bricks in the cellar. Fortunately a local specialist in grade II listed properties was on hand to install two massive pillars to rectify the problem.
A more welcome surprise was this fireplace revealed behind the hard board and now reframed with this Victorian cast iron surround.
To bring light into this rustic building, Aline included glazed panels in the old pine doors and installed sky lights in the study. Mismatched floorboards were replaced with more uniform oak boards.
Describing her style as modern rustic, Aline has furnished her home with natural materials and a variety of textures. Bedrooms have been beautifully dressed in a variety of earthy tones and natural fabrics, crystal chandeliers and mirrors add glamour.
Once the house had been updated, Aline turned her focus on the garden.
What Aline hadn’t realised when buying the house was that the listed status extended to the garden and any outside space associated with the property. This meant getting approval for any major changes though fortunately this didn’t present too many problems. Moving the parking area away from the house so as to have a clear view of the garden, for example, represented a return to how the original layout of the property had been conceived.
One of the most surprising things about this innately English house is that it has been renovated and furnished by a French woman, Aline is originally from Paris and travels the UK and France in search of both vintage and contemporary items for her clients.
This labour of love has led to a change of focus for Aline. During the course of restoring the house, she became a big fan of the English country house tradition and the designers associated with it. Just as important was the idea of sustainability and the stories which vintage items bring to a home. She realised this was now the kind of project she wanted to work on, with the help of local craftsman and local resources. From her base here in East Sussex, she runs her interior design business and online vintage business.
Aline’s vintage online store and interior design services can be found at the Textured Room.