Interiors: creative cottage in Cley
PUBLISHED: 11:52 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:52 20 February 2018
Take a peek through the keyhole of Diana Holmes and Jonathan Turnbull’s north Norfolk home
Cley is a village surrounded by natural beauty; the marshes, the creeks, the coastline and gorgeous countryside. I love the village so much, that a couple of years ago I was tempted to buy something there, but it regrettably ended up out of my budget.
The village oozes creativity, with interesting people, great shops and galleries plus a wonderful deli and village stores. To further my point, this month’s feature is on Diana Holmes, who owns a fantastic holiday home there together with her husband Jonathan Turnbull. They have converted and modernised a former fisherman’s cottage with great flair and imagination.
Diana, a well-known interior designer, was born in Yorkshire and later moved to Oakham. “It’s a beautiful market town,” recalls Diana. “It was wonderful to grow up in; very untouched. I went to school there before going on to study history at King’s College, London. As I love reading, I then did a publishing course at Brookes Uni in Oxford, which is such a beautiful and historic city.
“I found it very uplifting, as I have always been interested in heritage buildings. Part of the course was publishing a book, including marketing it. I then worked in every department in Oxford Polytechnic Press. An internship at Sphere Publishing in London followed, then I went to teach English in Italy before returning to Sphere full time.
“Various exciting jobs followed at Chatto and Windus and Little Brown. I refurbished my first [Edwardian] house, in Southfields, London, in 1990, while raising the children with my husband, a photographer for the Daily Telegraph. I started my own business from home as a freelance publicity consultant.”
Diana has two children, Eloise, 22, now a chef in London and Lydia, 20, who is at university in York. Needless to say they all enjoy meeting up at the cottage.
“I have always loved this area of Norfolk,” continues Diana, “and back in 2010, Jonathan and I were having a holiday, staying at Cley near the windmill. We were walking our dog, Nellie, to Blakeney when we spotted this cottage for sale, by auction. As it happens we were so lucky to get it, as the bidding came right up to our agreed limit, when fortunately the other bidder dropped out.
Diana explained how a technological disaster gave her the impetus for a change of direction. “One day a virus totally destroyed all my publishing contacts on my computer and, searching for a new direction, I thought about property renovation. Particularly with my love of old buildings, I was in my element and have never looked back.
“With this cottage, built in 1830 as two cottages” explains Diana, “I used Luke West from North Walsham, as he understands the heritage of a building. I had first restored a house in Salthouse where I appointed Luke as builder. I bought this cottage so I could work with him again. It took ten months and was finished in July 2012.
“I have introduced gothic windows, true to this style of cottage, giving the property added charm, to replace the plastic ones. Internally it was all little rooms and passageways. Although we do not use the front door, preferring the back entrance, I have created a large dining area, with log burner and kitchen to one side and a cosy living room, also with wood-burner and French doors to the courtyard garden to the other.
“Beyond the kitchen is an entrance lobby/boot room, ideal for kids and dogs, with desk, a utility area and beyond a downstairs shower room. Upstairs, we now have two spacious bedrooms; the master is vast, with a wonderful bathroom, all with nice countryside or marsh views.
“Because I love the ever-changing light here in north Norfolk, I wanted to echo it in the wall colours so have used Farrow and Ball Old White, Pigeon and Light Blue.
“The cottage is light and bright and I love the dual aspect with great views. The courtyard is a natural suntrap and we love dining ‘al fresco’ when possible.
“Now having our little bit of Cley is a total pleasure and getting away here from our busy lives is very uplifting. I love both the downstairs main rooms equally,” says Diana.
“The kitchen/dining is light and bright with lots to look at whereas the sitting room in the evenings, by the fire is equally lovely. Over the fireplace in the dining area, is a picture by Les Miller, which is a firm favourite.
“As you can see from all the finds I have in the cottage, I love going to antique auctions and sale rooms.
“Every day when we are here we take our dog out for long walks, mainly from here to Blakeney and back, maybe calling in at Wiveton Café, a great pitstop.
“Another favourite is Holkham beach. We also love the area and countryside around Itteringham. Our favourite pub has to be The Gunton Arms, followed closely by The Wiveton Bell. However much of the time we just stay put here in Cley.
“With good shops, beautiful countryside and the raw beauty of the marshes and coast, this is a village that has not changed very much. There is a real sense of community, it’s still a proper village and everyone has time to talk to each other, a facet of life, sadly disappearing. Who could ask for more?”
Diana and Jonathan’s Spring Cottage at Cley-next-the-Sea is available for holiday rentals; contact Crabpot Cottages www.crabpotcottages.co.uk 01263 579435 or 07771 643359
Owners: Diana Holmes and Jonathan Turnbull
Property: Newly renovated ffisherman’s cottage
Moved in: 2012
Professions: Diana is an interior designer and house renovator. Jonathan is a finance director
Favourite room: Diana says: I love both the downstairs main rooms equally. The kitchen/dining is light and bright with lots to look at whereas the sitting room in the evenings, by the fire is equally lovely.
Favourite item: Over the fireplace in the dining area, is a picture by Les Miller, which is a firm favourite.
Favourite interiors shop: I love going to antique auctions and sale rooms. One I try to get to every week at home is Peacocks in Bedford.
Favourite shop: Nelle in Holt, great ladies fashion.
Favourite part of the county: We also love the area and countryside around Itteringham.
Favourite day out: Another favourite is Holkham beach, totally unique.
Favourite waste of time: Talking with friends, walking the dog and food and wine.
Favourite walk: Every day when here we take our dog out for long walks, mainly from here to Blakeney and& back.
Favourite pub/café/picnic: The Gunton Arms, followed closely by The Wiveton Bell.