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The House of Black & White



Meet the Designer

Tiffany Harries

Tiffany joined us this year, bringing with her a strong background in the kitchen & furniture design industry. Having worked under one of our design directors, Sade Akintan in previous roles, she came highly recommended with a proven record in both her design and management abilities. Here, we take you on a particularly exciting venture of hers, where she shares the ups, downs, and turns of her very own renovation of a listed building in the heart of Great Torrington, Devon, now used for holiday rental purposes. Direct link to booking the space available below.

What Tiffany Had to Say

Tell us a little about the project. What was your reason behind it, and can you share some of your experience of the refurbishment itself?

I have always had a dream of owning and restoring a historic house and after over a decade of enjoying home stays with friends and family it seemed like the perfect business to go into. Having grown up in Devon memories of day trips to Dartmoor and walking down long winding cliff paths to sandy beaches below made it seem the perfect place to buy. After a few months of searching for properties none of them were quite right, until I saw this property. I had never been to Great Torrington before so knew nothing about the area but the house looked interesting. I could see from the photos online it was looking a bit sad and would need some work but how much I could never have imagined. After the first viewing I knew it was the one and it ticked all the boxes. Then I wondered if the location was right - would people want to come to Great Torrington? I did only just stumble upon it myself. We exited via the garden, crossed the car park, and out on to the top of Torrington Commons, which immediately took my breath away. The 360 degree views were spectacular, and a map of the town showed many historic and interesting things to do in and around Torrington. I was sold! After a purchase roller coaster ride I finally had the keys. The full buildings survey read a bit like a horror story and put me in mind of the film The Money Pit, but I ploughed on regardless. Once in the house the job of clearing away began and underneath the layers, the real history started to show itself. As I hoped, there were lots of original oak floors, an inglenook fireplace and a cobbled path all hidden underneath the layers. There were also some less than welcome discoveries that delayed the completion, broke the budget and challenged my sanity. The house will continually get restored and improved as time goes by as is often the way with historic buildings. This said, the house has had a complete transformation and is looking better than ever and I am very pleased with the result.


What did you enjoy most about putting it together?

I most enjoyed when the builders had left and I could get down to the painting and furnishing of each of the rooms. It was fun to see them come to life with colour and finally be as beautiful as I knew they could be.

Did you meet any challenges along the way?

It was hard work to live in a house that was having major building works done. The dust, noise and sharing your living space with 10 builders took its toll. I was living at the house when all the works were going on so I could be on hand to project manage the design myself. To keep faith in what I was doing and cope with the stress, I'd go for country walks getting to know the local area and also made friends with several of the locals as the town is known for being one of the friendliest in Britain. Another challenge was to try to furnish the house with a very limited budget which kept changing because of the discoveries the builders found. So I had to balance getting it looking appealing to guests with all the comforts they'd expect without breaking the bank. This involved lots of research online to find the right products for best prices and trawling antique shops, charity shops and car boot sales to find the best bargains I could. Thankfully this worked well for the vintage period look I was after in the brief. Often the pieces I would find would then later get painted or distressed in some way to then be used for a completely different purpose or room than I'd first imagined. Also, as the builders stripped parts of the house that were damaged or rotten beyond repair I'd ask them to keep the materials so as I might be able to find a way to recycle them. Some examples were using large oak beams as boarders in the garden and the slates from the roof as bedding edges. As well, we re-used the tongue and groove from the old kitchen as a back rest for the new breakfast table, also I re-used some of the kitchen tiles as a splash back for a bedroom sink. I kept most of the old wooden shelves left by the previous owners and cut, sanded and oiled them for a new lease of life.


Any key products or ideas worth sharing?

I found that just because one website had the perfect tap I wanted with great design and quality didn't mean I couldn't find exactly the same product somewhere else for sometimes a third of the cost. So I kept looking again and again to find the very best prices I could. The antique brass kitchen tap cost only £19 delivered and it looks great and works perfectly. Not every bargain worked out well but 90% of the time the products were as expected or better. Its also worth it to shop around. Even designer products can be available at reduced prices elsewhere if you're prepared to put the time in - better still, get a designer.

How much did it cost?

The design, build and furnishing of the house for holiday rental came to around £170,000.

What is your favourite space in the completed project?

As much as the design of interior spaces is a passion, I did truly enjoy dabbling in the planning of the garden, and outdoor areas. I even got to get hands on and dirty in putting it all together with the gardener/landscaper. And so, it brings a different kind of satisfaction to sit in the space.

Full project images available in our Projects section.

1 Comment

  1. Home Decor Lover says:

    Wow! This home is so beautiful! Great Work

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