Has there ever been a property that captured your imagination as a child and the image of that home has never left your memory?
It captivated you then and still intrigues you now.
That is how Alex Milner describes her relationship with Tregarn House, thought to date back to 1500 and one of the first houses to be built in Langstone, just outside Newport.
Alex recalls: “The house is near Langstone Primary School, which I attended.
“My first memory of the house was walking home from school, age 10, and seeing it hidden at the end of a long drive amongst lots of trees. I loved it even then.
“We were gazumped on the property we were buying on the same day that Tregarn House came back on the market, it was meant to be!”
At the time of purchase in December 2009 Tregarn House was a comfortable, much-loved home for the then owner but Alex couldn’t wait to introduce her own interior design style to the historic property.
She says: “The house had plum and avocado bathroom suites and very dark décor, but I loved it as soon as I walked through the front door and knew I had to have it.
“I have always loved interior design and the nine years of renovations have been worth every minute.”
Some research into the history of this unique property by Alex and Dean has uncovered that it appears to have been built and extended during different eras.
At the rear of the current property stands the original house, with the date 1500 carved into the brickwork above one of the doors.
It is thought that the barn and milking shed adjacent to this initial house, and now incorporated into the current home, were built around the same time.
These former outbuildings are now bedrooms on a first floor and a second kitchen and dining area which makes the house a versatile property, offering multi-generational living for the next owner.
In fact, that’s exactly how the family currently utilise the substantial space within the house, with Alex’s dad also living in the home and using the second kitchen diner within the oldest part of the property.
The substantial front section of the property was added during the Georgian period and boasts classic design features from the era, including large windows and high-ceilings.
Alex had a vision of how she wanted the interiors of the house to look and kept this in mind when updating every room, mindful of the desire to visually connect each space and establish a consistent interior style flowing throughout the property.
Where possible Alex opted for visually consistent flooring and chose a range of toning, muted colours accented by tactile luxurious fabrics and soft furnishings plus light reflecting, eye-catching metallics for the majority of the interior scheme.
Alex says: “I think it’s important to pay attention to detail and I have tried to create a tasteful yet comfortable family home.
“My style is to try and achieve an elegant blend of old and new with soothing neutrals and lots of texture. I used glass and mirrors to add a hint of sparkle. I also feel that it’s important to create interest using unique individual pieces.”
Alex continues: “I knew I wanted dark wooden flooring throughout the downstairs with light coloured walls, sticking with muted tones and a neutral pallet.
“I usually choose from a Farrow and Ball or Annie Sloane paint range although my hallway is painted in a Crown colour which I love.”
It’s in the Georgian section of the house that you can find Alex’s favourite space within the property that she and family adore; an impressive kitchen diner that looks like it could easily feel at home on the cover of a glossy interiors magazine.
Alex says: “The kitchen was originally the lounge and took quite a bit of renovating, it is my favourite room and really is the heart of the home, I particularly love my pantry which we had built instead of wall cupboards.
When the couple picked up the keys to the house a decade ago the hall was decorated in a palette of dark blue tones but Alex wanted to lighten the space.
She was also keen to let the original features of the house be a fundamental element of the updated interiors.
So the carpet came up, the walls were lightened and glass double doors to the kitchen diner were installed so light, as well as enticing glimpses of the room beyond, could be shared with the entrance hall.
With the changes to the hall finished, the classic, elegant Georgian staircase becomes the rightful centrepiece of the space, offering a pleasing period welcome to the home.
When it came to updating the decor in the master bedroom, the soft two-tone scheme was a bit of an accident.
Alex explains: “It took me so long to find the right paint colour for the walls (which was basically a mauve of one of the cushions I wanted to use in the room). We ended up with a colour that had been discontinued, so we had to buy quite a few tins.
“But we didn’t realise that we’d bought a lighter and darker shade of the same colour, so although the room now has two shades you really wouldn’t notice and I feel like it adds more depth to the colour pallet of the room! “
Alex continues: “I didn’t want the room to be too girly (mauve is quite close to pink, my poor husband!), so I added a steel grey velvet headboard and silk roman blinds in the same colour. I actually purchased them as a pair of silk curtains and had them made into blinds.”
In the ensuite to the master bedroom Alex found a dark coloured tile and colour matched it with paint for the walls and woodwork, which is a service that most DIY and paint stores will now offer.
Alex says: “I wanted an opulent feel which I hope I achieved. I finished with a gorgeous chunky pewter mirror from Homesense.
Take a quick tour of the home:
Alex continues: “I wanted the darker colour of the walls and shower to make the white from the basins and shower tray to pop, looking clean and fresh; a far cry from the avocado basins with cream swirls and the most golden taps I’ve ever seen in the original ensuite!
“I really feel that this worked because of the lovely big window that allowed lots of light into the room.”
The interiors within the second kitchen diner subtly alters, which was a conscious design decision.
The age of this section of the property means the space has low ceilings and original beams so Alex’s father requested the decor to be as light as possible.
Alex says: “We chose white gloss units to reflect the light with cream work surfaces and floor tiles as a softening colour.
“He wanted it to look masculine so we added a darker rug, sofa and a dark wood antique dining table.”
The games room in the loft has been a versatile space that has grown up with the family.
Alex says: “The space has changed many times over the years as the children have grown.
“In the past we have had a full sized snooker table, an air hockey table, dart board, football table etc, a games room paradise for the kids.
“It is currently an area to chill out, but my next vision would’ve been a cinema room with a squidgy, comfortable U-shaped sofa along with a huge TV screen/projector, with my main aim being to give it an air of comfort and opulence.”
Alex is always looking for inspiration for her style and home’s interior design, from online platforms such as pinterest to following a few interior designers on Instagram.
She says: “I tend to screenshot anything that takes my fancy, my phone has over 1000 screenshots of houses and interiors!”
In fact, the home might look like it has undergone an expensive interiors remodel but Alex is always on the hunt for a bargain buy, from online auction websites or High Street shops as well as charity shop finds. She is also a lover of quirky little shops that sell unique pieces.
The kitchen storage is a particular favourite upcycled piece in Alex’s home.
She says: “I used an old wardrobe of my fathers, removed the mirrors from the doors, put in shelves, painted it in a Farrow and Ball colour to create an elegant armoire and I love it, it compliments the high ceilings in the kitchen and is great for storage.
“My star buy was my kitchen table which was £12.99 from a charity shop which I have paired with imported French chairs, and a sparkly chandelier. It doesn’t always have to break the bank to look good!”
And that is the basis of Alex’s interior design strategy; spend your money wisely mixing more expensive pieces with bargains, take your time and get to know the space, remain true to your style, keep it consistent throughout and definitely have fun!
Alex says: “I hope the new owners love the house as much as we have and are as happy in it as we have been. I look forward to a new home and a new challenge.”
Tregarn House has just gone on the market with estate agent Crook and Blight, Newport for £789,950. Give them a call on 01633 222333 to find out more.