homemaker featured property - 16 November 2013

Creating a home that would make a statement was high on the agenda when Kathleen du Fosse moved into Darras Hall, in Northumberland,12 years ago


When the mum-of three viewed the 1960s property for the first time, she remembers the house looked a little dated and needed some TLC. But Kathleen, a nurse and midwife, set to work on big plans for the house which included building a heated outdoor swimming pool.

She said: “I remember thinking that despite it looking a little tired it also had huge potential and would be ideal for the children.

“I’d always wanted a swimming pool and over the years the pool has played a big part in family life. I even held a surprise party for a friend’s 40th at the poolside.”

As her project evolved, Kathleen gave her new home a fresh, neutral colour palette complete with cream silk curtains in the lounge. She also invested in new windows, a new kitchen and updated the bathrooms.

Today, the property is a far cry from the one she first viewed, complete with elegant fixtures and fittings, such as chandeliers and crystal handles on kitchen units, and a basement apartment with its own garden terrace.

Kathleen, 54, said: “I had the crystal handles imported from Italy after viewing them at another house. The kitchen was transformed about five years ago and I like to think it makes a statement with its unusual wooden panelling. The travertine flooring also has the benefit of underfloor heating.”

One of Kathleen’s major achievements has been turning the property’s old basement, previously used to store lawnmovers, into a living space for guests.

She said: “The basement was transformed over the course of six months. I believe it would make a great flat for teenagers, or perhaps a relative who wants their own space.”

The property also has an eco-friendly touch too with solar panels to its roof, which Kathleen says saves money on the bills.

To the front of the house, a pillared entrance makes a grand impression for visitors, while the hallway offers a good mix of modern and traditional elements, from its spindle staircase to cornicing and travertine flooring.

The lounge has French doors to the back garden, a stunning ceiling rose centre-piece and living flame fire inset into a stone fireplace. It also has travertine flooring.

There is a separate dining room for entertaining which also has French doors and travertine tiles with underfloor heating. A study offers potential for anyone who works from home.

Kathleen said: “The house is a great space for entertaining. I’ve held black-tie dinner parties here.”

The kitchen, meanwhile, is the piece de resistance of the property with its grand shaker-style cream units and granite work surfaces. There is also a Range cooker, microwave, wine cooler and fridge freezer.

With four double bedrooms and four bathrooms, the property has flexibility for families needing additional living space. The grounds have mature grounds of around three quarters of an acre, including a hidden garden and the pool.

The area itself is ideal for family living. Kathleen, who has three children, Juliette, 21, and twins William and Christina, 17, said: “Darras Hall is perfect for families. There is everything close by, good schools within walking distance, and shops and restaurants in Broadway. For that reason the house would be ideal for families.

“It is an excellent location for anyone who commutes as the A1 is close by, there are good transport links and Newcastle International Airport is also within easy reach too,” said Kathleen.

However, now with her children flying the nest soon, Kathleen is looking to downsize.

She said: “I’ve had many happy memories here, but I think it’s time for a new project on a smaller
scale. The children will be off to university soon, so it’s time for a different chapter in my life. It will be sad to leave the house but I am looking forward to a new project.”

170 Eastern Way, Darras Hall, is for sale through Bridgfords at offers over £900,000, tel: 01661 860300.


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