When buying a home, it’s easy to let emotions get the better of you. But when Karen Cram saw Mill House in Guyzance, Northumberland, for the first time, nothing was going to cloud the mum-of-two’s judgment.
In fact, she was so in love with the charming old property that she invested in a new dinner service to suit the kitchen before even signing on the dotted line.
She said: “I got the chance to own Mill House purely by chance. It wasn’t even on the open market. The owner offered it to me for sale.
“After seeing it I went on holiday to the Amalfi coast in Italy. It was during a visit to Ravello I came across a really unusual China dinner service, all hand-painted in black, orange and lemon.
“I remember sitting on the hillside after buying it saying to myself, please let Mill House be mine and that’s what happened!”
One of the large plates from the service now takes pride of place on a wall in the kitchen.
Karen, 52, said: “When I walked through the door for the first time, I just thought ‘Wow this could be an awesome kitchen’. I could really picture myself living there
“It was just a shell at the time too as it was in the process of being transformed.
“My previous home was more modern and contemporary, and it had an American/Scandinavian feel to it. It was a lovely home, but nothing like the warm, cosy feel the Mill House has. I think my love of old properties and architecture stems from having studied history at A-level.”
Situated in a countryside setting, the charming Grade II Listed home dates back to the 1500s with additions added in the 1800s. Originally the Miller’s House, it formed part of the Guyzance Hall Estate and its history has been recorded by previous owners and preserved in a small book.
Among the artwork adorning the walls of Karen’s home are two old pictures of the property given to her by the former owner, Sir Anthony Milburn.
The heart of the home and perhaps Karen’s favourite space is the kitchen with its timber floors and exposed beams. There is a large island unit, stylish wall and floor units, Belfast sink and AGA, which Union, Karen’s Jack Russell loves to curl up beside.
She said: “Union can always be found curled up next to the hearth or the AGA.”
The sitting room has wooden beams and a log-burner and stone floor. The rear hall has parquet flooring and leads to a large double bedroom with an open fireplace and an en-suite bathroom.
With her two children, Josie, 24, and Marcus, 21, having flown the nest, Karen is looking forward with excitement to the next chapter in her life.
“When people come to the house they wonder why I want to move because the house is so lovely, but I’m looking for a new project now. I’d like to live in Tynemouth.
“Now the children have grown up I want to follow a different path,” said Karen.
The house will always be a special place for Karen as it is where she gained her strength of character.
She said: “It’s been a wonderful journey and the house has been an absolute haven. By putting my own mark on it, I have been able to create a home where the children could appreciate nature in a safe environment. Marcus is a keen photographer so it was such a great place for him.”
And with its roaring fires, it’s a place the whole family has gathered at Christmas time.
Karen said: “The house has both character and quirkiness. I love its beams, floors and the depth of its walls. There’s also a Victorian fireplace in the master bedroom which I love as there is nothing better than curling up with a book in bed in front of the fire in winter.”
There are two staircases, one leading from the dining room up to a spacious double bedroom. The rear staircase, meanwhile, leads to two spacious double bedrooms which are bright and airy and overlook the garden.
The garden is mainly lawned and flanked by mature trees and hedging allowing a great degree of privacy.
Karen said: “I love nature, so the interior furnishings have a very natural theme and bring the outdoors in. I especially love wild flowers. I enjoy mixing things up and making spaces work with both old and new furnishings. It’s all about the fine detail.”
As well as a patio, there is a stone outbuilding which could be used as an office or studio space. There is also a paddock which leads to a timber-built barn which has planning permission for ancillary living accommodation and/or holiday let use.
The area could prove perfect for anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of working city life for a more tranquil domestic setting.
Karen said: “The property could be ideal for anyone who commutes as Newcastle city centre and Jesmond are only about a 30 to 35 minute drive away. Newcastle airport can also be reached in around the same time. It’s also great for links to London and Edinburgh.”
:: Mill House, Guyzance, Morpeth, is for sale through George F White at a guide price of £650,000, tel: 01665 603231.