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Take a peek through the keyhole of this family home in Hildenborough

PUBLISHED: 15:20 15 August 2016 | UPDATED: 15:20 15 August 2016

Living room

Living room

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Tiffany Hornshaw says she 'felt so scared' as the door to her new home opened three years ago. Having made just one visit to the property, she'd put in an offer and convinced her family to pack up everything they owned and fly over from Hong Kong. But would they like it?

Dining areaDining area

Tiffany Hornshaw says she found their new home in Hildenborough “on the worst day. It was snowing and sleeting and horrible but I just knew it would be home.”

She describes walking around while on the phone to husband Richard in Hong Kong with their three young children saying things like “I’m just walking up the stairs now”, or “I can see sheep from the garden” and with only a few hours before she had to fly back, she put in an offer.

The Grade II listed property had everything they wanted; four bedrooms and a garden, great transport links to London and several good schools within close range.

It was also completely different to the open-plan, glass- fronted flat they lived in, in Hong Kong. So, when it was time to show Richard around their new home in Kent, Tiffany says she felt, and obviously looked, so nervous at the thought that he wouldn’t like it, he thought she was going to be sick.


Fortunately, her worries were unfounded and Tiffany says “Richard liked it, or at least he said he did, but it was too late by then!”

The property is filled with an abundance of beams and period features. A staircase at each end of the house and a redundant front door reveal that it was once two separate farm workers’ cottages, while a quirky upstairs layout adds to its charm.

Although a run of four interconnecting bedrooms wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, Tiffany loves it. One feature she wasn’t so keen on, however, was that when working in the original kitchen, she couldn’t see Olly, Tom and Rosie playing in the conservatory.

Aware that a listed building has many rules and regulations governing structural changes, Tiffany thought they would only be able to widen the existing doorway and convinced Richard to bring in an architect to check out the possibility.

The kitchen now flows into the conservatory to create a family friendly living spaceThe kitchen now flows into the conservatory to create a family friendly living space

Stephen Langer had different ideas, however, and suggested getting rid the conservatory, opening it up and putting another bedroom on top. After six months of discussion, the couple decided to go for it. The old conservatory was reluctantly pulled down to make way for the new extension and a master bedroom with an en-suite and a dressing room was added above the new open-plan dining area.

When asked to describe her sense of style, Tiffany tells me: “I like simple lines but I do like to have colour. Because my father works for Designers Guild that’s where the coloured bits come in, as I do like the colours they use and the big prints.”

Having initially painted the whole house white, Tiffany is now trying to introduce more colour into their home and the snug has recently been painted a pale grey to complement and enhance the colour of the Japanese-inspired grey and blue/green cupboards.

The family brought several pieces of bespoke furniture back with them and Tiffany says that when decorating the house the one thing she really didn’t want was “for people to walk in and say ‘oh, you can tell you’ve spent two years in Hong Kong’!”

The living room contains several pieces from Tiffany's fatherThe living room contains several pieces from Tiffany's father

Wooden floors have replaced the old carpet and tiles that once lay in the hallway/dining room and snug as Tiffany wanted wood all the way through to make the two rooms work together.

In the kitchen she also wanted a floor surface that would flow between the spaces and on the recommendation of her tiler, chose a light-coloured porcelain tile because they don’t need any treatment and are very hard wearing.

Drawers from the old kitchen sitting on the window sill provide a great place for keeping bits and bobs and Tiffany reveals she has an eye for a great bargain. As we move into the sitting room with its inglenook fireplace and eye-catching sofa cushions, Tiffany tells me how she found one of their sofas by going to the hairdressers.

“I went to see my hairdresser in Sevenoaks and she said “we’re getting rid of that sofa and getting a new one” so I said, I’ll have it!” The other cream sofa and matching chair are from Ralph Lauren and were a gift from Tiffany’s dad.

The hall acts as an entertaining space when the table is extendedThe hall acts as an entertaining space when the table is extended

The floral rug was another gift and when asked about her dad’s eye for detail Tiffany says he actually works in marketing at Designers Guild but is naturally good with style, while her mother is an interior designer. She adds: “I’m the least creative member of the family but I must have absorbed something!”

Tiffany is also willing to take a risk and managed to get a great piano on eBay for £10 and find the ‘perfect’ white extendable painted table on the internet. The table sitting in the hallway can be extended to seat 14, which is a huge bonus for a couple who love entertaining, but Tiffany admits she had ‘several moments’ when she questioned what she was doing.

Day-to-day this room acts like a hall with space for the children to get ready, but when the table is extended into a big oval, it turns it into a dining room.

With the first-floor extension complete, Tiffany says it was important that the new rooms felt as if they belonged with the rest of the building, so the beams in the main bedroom were sourced from a reclamation yard.

Pale yellow and grey blinds frame the double aspect windows, as Richard isn’t keen on anything too floral, and lead your eye out to a great view of the fields beyond.

The pendant hanging allium light was found while Tiffany was “googling things” and it gave her a real ‘love it or hate it moment’ when she couldn’t decide whether it ‘was naff or not’.

Now it’s installed she really likes it and it ties in well with the allium picture she bought Richard as a Christmas present.

The original family bathroom was made into a new bedroom for five-year-old Tom, complete with bunting and a corner hideaway, and a tiny latched door connects Olly and Rosies’ rooms.

Olly never uses it, however, and even when he was very young, has always chosen to use the stairs at the far end of the house. Now he’s nine, Tiffany has been busy making his room look a little more grown up for him and, inspired by his love of history and “everything to do with the war” has recently decorated his room with a blue Spitfire-themed wallpaper.

Rosie’s room, meanwhile, is a pink and white dream with white painted floorboards, flower bud wallpaper and curtains that were inherited from the previous owners.

Unlike her two brothers, seven-year-old Rosie, is a little more particular about how things are displayed in her room. Among her most favourite possessions are the two pictures hanging above her headboard which show her initials and were made by her Grandmother.

It’s clear that the move has been a success for the whole family and even now, Tiffany doesn’t think they could have chosen a better place to move to. The house feels like the home she immediately imagined and Richard’s wish to be able to relax and feel like he’s immersed in the countryside has been fulfilled, with help from the view of grazing sheep provided by a gap in the garden hedge and walks with their one-year-old Labrador, Lottie.

Get the look


When making changes to any Grade II listed property, expert knowledge is required to draw up the plans. On this occasion, Stephen Langer Architects in Tunbridge Wells was called in to do the job,

Tiffany and Richard also highly recommend the building services of A. M Design and Construction in Speldhurst,

The destination picture on the wall was a leaving gift from friends in Hong Kong, but a similar design can be created using your own special places at

The kitchen was supplied and fitted by Rencraft in Tunbridge Wells,

The kitchen tap was bought in Homebase,

Wallpaper and paint

Although it looks grey in Tiffany’s house, the paint used in the snug is actually called Cornforth White and is part of the Farrow and Ball range,

The blue Spitfire wallpaper in Olly’s bedroom was supplied by, a company that only makes wallpaper for boys!

Furniture and fabrics

Taking a tip from her father, most of Tiffany’s curtain and cushion fabrics have been supplied by Designers Guild,

The cushions in the master bedroom are from HomeSense, as are the dining room chairs and the Chinese-styled cupboard in the snug that holds all the kids toys,

The white extending dining table was bought over from France via

Lighting and flooring

The allium pendant light in the master bedroom is from John Lewis,

The engineered wood flooring in the hallway/dining room and snug were sourced and laid by Floorz Hardwood Flooring, 77 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells, 01892 516638.

The rug in the snug came from Cox and Cox, while the floral rug in the sitting room also came from Designers Guild (details above).

The porcelain floor tiles in the kitchen and utility room were sourced via Tile Mates group in Tunbridge Wells,

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