The Shack

Hiding down our driveway is our gorgeous Shack.

It didn't used to look like this when it was a tractor shed!

We just always felt that with a view like this out of the window, it was a bit wasted on a lawn mower! 

So we made it dry  

and warm

and covered it with wood

and made it pretty.

We can now proudly present (well, as of Easter, ahem)

Our Games Room / Surf shack / laundry room. But how is this possible all within that space? You may well ask..

This is the interior of the Games Room.

We have a fabulous new table-tennis table,

complete with a selection of bats and balls;

a den building kit, with instructions, for you to take into the garden and create yourself;

a lego area for those who are partial;

oodles of toys in labelled baskets;

and for those with artistic flair

there are lots of colouring things to enjoy.

For the active, or those children who need more wearing out than others, try these 'nature spotting packs'. 

There are all sorts of things to discover in our adventurous garden.

and as if that wasn't enough,

there is a treasure hunt, a hedgehog hunt, a flower press 

AND a pirate Island activity that involves designing and decorating your own flag 

 then finding our secret island in the wood, claiming it as your own, and hoisting up your flag on the enormous pole!

After all that lot you might just want to collapse in a comfy armchair 

gaze at some calming Dick Bruna artwork

and read a book!

You see the door on the far right hand side? That is where the laundry is!

This is the other side of the Laundry, if you were accessing it from the outside.

I think my two favourite spaces in the whole of Pickwell 

are Amity and our Laundry!

Can you see why?

 I found these gorgeous, 'shabby chic' style tiles as a work-top, and they seem to go so well with the wood. 

Its only small but..

I think it has a really calming effect on you as soon as you walk in.

The smell of the fresh washing may also have something to do with the ambience too?

We have put some washing lines up, and boy, your clothes should dry quickly here.

Behind the Laundry and accessed from the drive is our Surf Shack.

This is a great space for boards/wetsuits/bikes and beach equipment. We have also put some bits and bobs in there for you to borrow while you are here.

Just outside the Shack is a brilliant recepticle for rinsing off those salty wetsuits before you hang them up to dry. 

 So. There you have it. The full guided tour of our little shack. We really enjoyed this project and i have to give lots of thanks and big up whoop whoop (i actually still think i am 16) to Mrs Tracey Elliott, as it was down to her hard work that all the Games Room activities came into being. Nice one Trace (hope you're enjoying France!) x

Jubilee Celebrations Part 1

I might have to write this blog from a personal perspective, rather than a Pickwell-as-a-whole-perspective, as i think i might be the only Royalist here?! 

But Royalist I am and I'm not afraid to say it! I was weeping with the best of 'em at the Royal wedding

and in these times of such sad news everywhere you turn, isn't it wonderful to be able to celebrate the good stuff, the stuff that brings a nation together? 

We put up some lovely (and very tasteful, i might add) bunting, made by our talented friend Lou. 

 We hoped our guests felt good about it, royalist or not?


Thank you Lou, our Entrance Hall looks fantastic. 

Even our gorgeous 16th Century Chapel must have known

as the red roses have suddenly come into bloom

and don't they look pretty?

I even bought some 'jubilee tea cakes' for my wedding viewings (although none of them were actually eaten)....hmmmmm...

Steve's Mum, brother, our sister-in-law and our nephew Sam all came for a few days to surf and chill.

We decided to take them, together with some guests (who came last year, so we're more like friends)

through the fields to the 'plateaux' nearby to see the coastal Beacons

there was much anticipation in the air

Zac had his trusty 'phoenix feather wand' in case of emergency

and Liza had her holiday friend Grace (can you believe Liza is actually 3 months younger than Grace - wow my girl is tall!)

and my nephew Sam had with him a ....toilet sign?!?

Apparently Steve made him carry it. I had no idea why and although we like to look after our guests, i must admit i did think providing toilets for 20 minutes of Beacon viewing was a little excessive.

When we got to the plateaux we could see a couple of Beacons to the left along the coast and Clovelly was lit up in a zig-zag shape but really, that was about it. 

This exciting image of fires burning all along the Woolacombe coast line is merely a light trick of my camera! Or is it.......??? Whatever it is they definitely weren't there when i looked with my eyes! (oh, Steve's just informed me they are street lights boooo)

Suddenly we all heard the sound of sparks flying 

and turned to see the real reason for the toilet sign! Yay! A Catherine wheel!

quickly followed by some rockets

Steve once again living up to his nickname of Gandalf..

It kind of made up for the Beacon disappointment anyway :)

The next blog post is definitely worth the involves a maypole and the WI... oh yes...

Easter and a new start

Things are looking a little different around here!
Remember this is how the west wing of the house looked? The window on the right was our office
and the window on the far left was a tiny anti-room of the office which was used to house lots of our stuff we hadn't quite managed to unpack from the move 4 years ago!
When we first moved we had to set up an office quickly, so we literally set up chairs and tables and started to work. No thought went into decor or practicalities, no time for that! This is how it looked as we were packing up.
Then Winter came, and so did the builders.
We started to knock through to make a door opening
Lucky there were no guests in as it was a bit chilly for a while.
After the door hole was made we concentrated on our lovely 60's conservatory.
It was built when Pickwell Manor was a hotel and they wanted to expand their dining space. We have always used it as a games room for guests.
It took a big digger and lots of mess to get this baby down. Now it feels like it was never there!
We are absolutely loving our new look west wing!
Our Baker lounge and spare room and Jubilee lounge above, now has wonderful light pouring in the windows!
Our new office (which was our original entrance hall with a terracota quarry tile floor) has such luscious white walls I am sure it helps us to think a lot more clearly?
My only real sadness is that our stationary supplier doesn't do folders in grey...
We have all new paths, new stone edging, a lavender-lined walk way and a gorgeous bespoke oak front door.
I just love the fishing lights (here and in the entrance hall) and the post box (both from 'Grace and Glory' in Barnstaple).
Millie-Grace (aged nearly 6!) wrote a beautiful sign for me to welcome our Easter guests,
and Liza (6), Molly (8) and Millie-Grace helped decorate these pebbles to sit by the front door too. Zac (9) appears to be completely uninterested in ANYTHING the girls are doing at the moment, thus no contribution from him!
The 'office anti-room' is now this lovely boots/coats/practical space.
Is this how you spell welly's?! A few people have laughed at me for this. Anyway, this area is basically for guest use - leaving dirty boots and shoes, and storing beach equipment, if they don't want to take it all up to the apartment. We also have things people can borrow and these too will be left in the cupboards.
The anti-room then leads into the entrance lounge.
and here you have it! Inspired by the beach and all the colours you find there, from the neutral grey tones of the rocks, to the frothy white water through to the odd bit of bold green coloured string.
We are blessed with the natural features our house has given us, from the stone mullion windows and here in this case,
the gorgeous inglenook fire-place.
A gift for any designer.
I love these little bird door knobs. They are fair trade (v important) and sold through Grace and Glory again. The old sideboard was found in a shed in the garden with chain saws in it. A crime.
These lamp-posts continue the beach theme down the new paths and into our extended car-park. (The games room has been laid to rest under the car-park extension). We tested the lights last night and they light the area perfectly - phew!
The eggs hanging on our Easter tree are from our friends at Sandleigh. I heard their chicken was laying gorgeous sage coloured eggs and Sarah v kindly let me have some!
It is really important to us that our house brings rest to all those who come.
I bought this lovely piece of art in Georgeham village. There was an auction to raise money for Paul's Place, a local B&B which can also provide respite for young people with a terminal condition and their carers.
It was a friend of Paul's who painted this picture and i think it perfectly encapsulates holidays and rest and rolling hills and sea. oh, that reminds me of somewhere...

I need to thank the wonderful team that made this happen. Our builders - Steve (my magic fairy), Joel and Simon. Our plumber - Mike, the painters - Adam and Dave. Our plasterer 'gift of the gab' Dubsy and our electrician Andy. Thank you for working really hard and against the clock as've done an amazing job x

The Snug

At the end of our Ballroom there is a beautiful room which is about a third of the size of our Ballroom. It has the same oak floor, distinctive wood panelling and stone mullion windows. We call it The Snug.
We use this room for so many different things throughout the year (this is when we used it for our annual bonfire night).
In the Spring and Autumn it is used for a chill-out bar space for weddings, in the Winter we light the fire and use it for our wedding planning meetings and the not-for-profit conferences,
and the Summer sees it transformed into a gorgeous and romantic studio apartment for 2! It is very popular because it is very private, the fire can be lit in the evenings, it has its own private access to the drive outside
and has a lovely view out to the Italian garden and Terrace.
It has even been used for a couple of photo-shoots - this one was just this week - to help a friend start her business.
We have already done an awful lot to this room. We knocked down a dark corridor that led into the space, we removed the incense drenched swirly carpet, repainted the walls in lovely neutral colours (elephants breath F&B for those who are interested!)
and put a kitchen in. We have used it in that form successfully for 4 years now, but we decided to make it even more snug-like for 2012!
We have built in some wonderful book cases to house all our old books. Some were already here and lots we have picked up along the way.
Charity shops don't appear to be wanting old books clogging up their shelves as apparently they don't sell...all the better for us then!
We have also put some wood panelling on the walls and filled them with gorgeous wallpaper from Louise Body.
This is just before the new plugs went in!
The Snug is south facing so gets lots of sunlight flooding through the window.
I think you'll agree that our Snug is definitely very cosy now. Come and stay in the Summer and find out for yourself! x

Builders, builders everywhere!

So we are in the full throes of the building work now.
Conducting wedding viewings is a highly creative experience of describing how everything is GOING to look in just a few short weeks time. (These are our hilarious builders who get very silly when a camera comes out...)
We are excited as we are realising our bigger dreams that have been in formation for 4 years and are finally being worked out. (a prize for guessing which builder this is...the clue is in the last pic...)
So, I will start by telling you about the new front door to access the west wing of the house. This is how the front of the west wing looked.
To the left hand side, in place of the window, we are creating a new front door.
This will be brilliant because from the car-park, the door will be obvious and will be a welcoming sight after a long journey!
Before you had to walk round to the back of the house, to somewhat of a less grand entrance.
You walked through an entrance hall with a quarry tile floor and up the stairs. Well, now it is all change!
Once through the lovely new Entrance, now there will be a coat and welly boot area
that will lead into a lovely warm lounge room, complete with chesterfields and an inglenook fireplace taking centre stage.
This new lounge room used to be our office. When we arrived it was a case of starting work asap so this room never received the love and care (and white paint) that the rest of the house has been given. This is mid-move out so things are MESSY!
The biggest delight in knocking through the new doorway was finding a huge flagstone underneath the wall we took out
which we think could indicate this was a doorway in the past. We do like to think we are restoring the house to how it used to be (well, structurally that is...i have a feeling the interiors were probably not quite our bag)
Back to the first pic, you see our games room on the right hand side, well this is coming down very soon now. We have always felt it was a bit of an eye-sore. Do not fear we are re-housing the games room (complete with new equipment) into this lovely space situated opposite the garages.
We are just in the process of insulating it.
With its gorgeous view and spacious interior, i think the kids will love it.
In place of the games room will be a gorgeous big flower bed.
The digger has been and dug a big trench to take all the water and electricity down to our new games room (and our new electric gates at the end of the drive..more on that soon).
The good news is it has also filled in the trench and even now is starting to look good again. If it wasn't for the last 4 years and knowing all we have achieved and how good we always get it looking, this photo would worry me!
This is the start of our new utility space, surf shack and wetsuit drying area. It is on the side of the new games room.

I have some exciting blog posts coming up on The Chapel, The Snug and a new bathroom. Our builders are working hard, and so are we, to make this house absolutely beautiful for Easter. In the mean-time, its off to the Designer Wedding Show in Battersea for us! x

The Chapel

It has been a long time coming, but we have finally finished renovating our 16th Century Chapel.
It was once the private Chapel for the owners of Pickwell Manor. It would be where they went to pray and to contemplate.
But it looked more like this when we found it, complete with graffiti going back to 1969.
First we put a concrete floor in and a ceiling/top floor. This is the downstairs..
and this is upstairs. One room up, one room down!
Then the tanking arrived which is acts as a sealed damp-proof membrane.
This again is the upstairs, now tanked.
We built a little baby extension on the side to house the boiler.
It is very sweet but tucked away.
The walls were then constructed on top of the tanking, this is the shell of the wet-room beginning.
and underfloor heating went in on the ground floor.
You can start to see the beginning of the wet-room area here on the left of the ground floor (under the stairs)
I asked my magic fairy for a white concrete (my favourite material) wash stand to house the sink in the teeny wet room, and, hey presto!
Thank you Steve our real-life Father Christmas!
Dubsy, our plasterer who always brings a smile.
He said to me 'whenever i come here you ask me to do the the strangest things, but somehow they seem to turn out looking quite good in the end'!
So, it is all finished, and it is now a bridal suite! The wet-room is just in the door to the left of the toaster.
The concrete stand in its rightful place.
the other half of the wet-room..complete with a shower for two..
Back into the main room now. We managed to source a camper-van sink and hob as it reminded me so much of being inside a camper.
The main door is absolutely gorgeous and made of oak to match the big door of the main house. The lights (Grace and Glory) hang over the table. (Thank you to Sarah Lambert who took the better-looking photos on this post!)
The stairs are hidden behind the cut-outs. Accessories by Grace and Glory
This is the upstairs. The top of the stairs is just visible on the left. We felt a full-length mirror was an essential for looking good on your wedding day!
The chest of drawers provide ample space for everything you might bring- even if you make a longer holiday out of your stay.
A small dressing table positioned by the window gives good light for making yourself look beautiful!
The wallpaper hidden behind the plaster depicts a romantic scene of two chickens laying an egg!
Thank you Deb Taylor at Home House Interiors for the fantastic headboard and footboard in a welsh blanket fabric. The design is St David's Cross and we love it!
the wonderful grey linen cushions tie everything together and make the bed complete.
Although it is small, it is very cosy and each space has been thought through to allow you to really make the most of this special and intimate time together.
The history around you also brings a depth to your experience in a way that only buildings as old as this can.
More photos will be available to see on our new website *coming soon*.

We really look forward to welcoming you to The Chapel x