Devon's prettiest homes: Two Pound cottage in Lustleigh
PUBLISHED: 17:26 13 May 2019
Size certainly isn't everything when it comes to fabulous homes. CHRISSY HARRIS visits a small cottage with a big personality
Some houses get you at the front door. Emmy Fowle felt it the moment she arrived outside Two Pound in Lustleigh.
She'd planned to look at three potential holiday homes that day but, like all the best property love stories, she glanced up at this slightly sorry-looking little building, all messy thatched roof and faded paintwork, and knew this was the one.
"I fell in love with it immediately," says Emmy, describing that thunderbolt moment. "I didn't even have to come inside."
Three is definitely a crowd at Two Pound. This cottage is snug, intimate, cosy - all those terms estate agents use to describe properties with limited floor plans. But beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
"It's a tiny little place but there's something about it,'" says Emmy, as we politely manoeuvre around each other in the hallway and step into the kitchen.
"I have such a massive respect for it. I felt an overwhelming responsibility to get it right."
She's referring to the three months of intense renovation work it took to get Two Pound looking like the stylish country retreat it is today.
The cottage had spent years as a long-term rental property and needed an overhaul, including heating, roof repair and some room reconfiguring, as well as decorating throughout.
It was the first time Emmy, who runs a film production business, and husband Steve, a sales director, had ever undertaken anything like this before.
"As we got into the process, it was horrendous," she says, not making the slightest effort to put any kind of (high) gloss on her experience.
"It wasn't the building - this building has never been anything other than lovely to me - it was the process of the renovation that I really struggled with.
"I don't think I was a very good manager of tradesmen. They were all lovely people but I found it so stressful, people not turning up when they said they would, which put everything else out.
"I was panicking about costs all the time. And the budget went completely out of the window because we were so naïve.
"You know you see those property TV programmes and you just think: oh my god, what are you doing?! Well, that was us. It nearly finished me off!"
But, and as is so often the case in those property TV programmes, it all worked out in the end.
Two Pound is now a much sought-after holiday let for couples looking for a cosy Dartmoor-based getaway.
Style and charm is packed into every one of the five rooms here. With space at a premium, careful consideration has gone into stripping everything back without compromising on little luxuries, such as a bar area in the space that was once an under stairs cupboard.
Although she's quick to dismiss her project managing talents, Emmy, 45, clearly has an eye for interiors and those all-important details.
The expensive handles on the kitchen cupboards, high-quality soft furnishings, the golden taps and fittings in the bathroom and little touches, such as the old apothecary jars in the bedroom, are signs that someone has put some serious thought into the overall look of the place.
"I didn't realise how much fun it would be, actually," says Emmy, admitting she took some suggestions from an interior designer friend (Holly Keeling in Totnes).
"In the bedroom, I actually wanted a much plainer bed but she advised to think about something with a bigger impact. It works really well."
Emmy, Steve and their children Miller, 15 and Sennen, 14, recently moved house and are now just a short drive away from Lustleigh. It makes managing the cottage a lot easier and also means the family can be more involved in village life.
"We experience it at the moment," says Emmy, explaining that the four-hour changeover usually takes her all day by the time she's popped to the shop to pick up the local provisions for guests, been to the tearooms for a sandwich and chatted to the neighbours.
"This is such a lovely place to be," she says. "The first weekend that the cottage was properly finished, I was stood at the sink when a horse and cart came down the road, followed by a load of Morris dancers. I thought: this is unreal!"
Emmy says she's conscious that this is a holiday let and that she's not here full time, but she hopes they've done enough to show villagers how much they value the cottage.
"It always was a special place but I think it's even more special now," she says. "I feel really privileged to have got it."
Emmy has appealed to local artists to get in touch if they would like to display their work on the cottage walls. Guests have already bought some of the pieces on show.
"When Steve and I go away, we always try to bring a piece of art home with us," says Emmy. "It always evokes a memory, so I wanted to give people that opportunity."
POP THE QUESTION
The cottage is the perfect romantic setting for a proposal. "We had one in January!" says Emmy. "He popped the question in the cottage and she said a wonderful, happy YES!
"It's great to think that in some small way, you are part of people's lives forever."
OPEN KITCHEN AND BAR
New doors were made for existing cupboards in the kitchen but wall cabinets have been replaced with shelves (made from floorboards) to open up the space.
A bar area was also slotted in. "I wanted to show off local spirits, ales and high quality wines that people might not be able to get," says Emmy.