25th March 2015

Crafted: that feels like the best word to describe this Grade II-listed cottage located on Ivy Lane in the centre of the historic city of Canterbury, which is being marketed by The Modern House. Last month I wrote here about a contemporary townhouse on Old Church Street in London that had been designed with a focus on craftsmanship, and while this 16th century house is very different in style and period, that same sense of craftsmanship is evident throughout.

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Just look at the beautiful bespoke cabinetry in the kitchen. I can’t get over the herringbone parquet timber detailing used on the walls here – this may be the most beautiful kitchen splashback I’ve ever seen – and the same detail clads the cooker hood. Although rooted in a historical context, this kitchen is crisp and contemporary and gorgeously tactile, and the rich palette feels right in a building of this age – although the dark finishes are counterbalanced by the full-height glazed doors that open this space onto the garden.


Ivy Cottage was refurbished by the architect Carl Trenfield, who was both the architect and the client in this project – the courtyard garden at the rear was designed by Carl’s wife Eleanor, a landscape architect. Carl Trenfield Architects was recently selected by Architects’ Journal as one of the UK’s most exciting young practices, and if this project is anything to go by, well, I can’t wait to see more. The external fabric of the building was restored, but from the street you would never imagine how much this two bedroom cottage has evolved internally.


On the ground level, the existing kitchen was removed, as was the internal dividing wall between the front and rear rooms, forming today’s open plan living, dining and kitchen space. Solid oak parquet flooring unifies this area, while the original period details remain including chunky exposed beams and rustic timber doors, along with the brick fireplace that now houses a highly efficient woodburning stove.

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Trenfield worked with a master craftsman who made and installed all the bespoke furniture and fittings throughout, including the kitchen and the vanity unit in the main bedroom upstairs. I love this blend of new with old – and the old here is 500 years old, so the contrasts are wonderful yet entirely complementary. Who would have thought that Alvar Aalto’s Golden Bell Suspension Lamp, designed in the 1930s, would look so right here suspended over the dining table? But it does.


Likewise the use of solid marble tiling in the bathroom that gives this contemporary space a timeless quality.Regular readers will know of my passion for period property, but where that age and character is combined with clever, sympathetic and inspired modern design.

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Ivy Cottage is a wonderful example of how to do this right.This property is listed with The Modern House at a price of £260,000. Photography from The Modern House.

See my Steller story on Ivy Cottage here.