Trisha Martin has combined classic and modern with a hint of decadence in her stunning West Sussex home.
With two teenage daughters needing more space for their belongings, Trisha and Matt Martin went on the hunt for a bigger house in the area surrounding their West Sussex home, but pickings were decidedly slim. ‘We viewed many new-build properties, but they didn’t have the character or size of garden we required,’ explains Trisha. Undeterred, the couple decided to broaden their search criteria by including places that needed renovating and had the possibility to extend. It was a decision that soon paid off . ‘We stopped by the local estate agent’s and, amazingly, saw exactly what we had in mind in the window,’ says Trisha. ‘I was worried about the extent of work needed, but Matt is an experienced decorator with his own business and encouraged me to see it.’ Although it had a strange layout with lots of doorways and a pink bathroom, they both fell in love with the house. The garden was a good size and, although seven large conifers blocked the light, they could see the potential.
As soon as the house was theirs, the couple got to work. ‘The day we moved in, a team of Matt’s friends helped us remove the bath and tiles,’ Trisha recalls. ‘The removal men hadn’t even pulled away and we were already ripping up the outdated carpet.’ Straight away, Matt painted all the walls white, as a stop-gap while planning the colour scheme, and in the hope of avoiding making expensive errors.
The couple decided to knock the kitchen and breakfast room through, extending it by another four metres to create a large kitchen-diner. Being half-Italian, Trisha’s home is always warm and welcoming, and food is an essential part of the Martins’ life. ‘We absolutely love entertaining,’ she explains. ‘Ours is the designated house for the wider family at Christmas and Easter, so we have at least two large parties a year.’ Their kitchen leads on to an expansive decked area where they can enjoy alfresco dining in the summer and congregate on comfy outdoor sofas around a sunken fire pit. ‘There are plenty of different areas in our newly landscaped garden for us to enjoy with our friends and family,’ Trisha adds.
Upstairs, a small bedroom was turned into an en suite for the master bedroom, with French doors leading out to a delightful decked balcony. The rest of the building was rewired, plastered and decorated, and the old staircase was replaced with a stunning oak and glass design, crafted by a local carpenter.
Throughout, their home mirrors the couple’s personality and interior designer Trisha has given each room careful consideration. ‘The first question I ask clients is how they want the room to feel, so I’ve applied the same method to my own space,’ she explains. For example, when the Martins installed the balcony in their bedroom, they envisaged the doors being left wide open and the curtains blowing gently in the breeze, allowing the scent of jasmine, planted in pots outside, to waft in. To add to the romance in this room, it’s filled with candles, the bed is draped in luxurious fabrics and there are quirky letters studded with lights on the exposed brick wall.
Trisha wanted her house to feel fresh and elegant throughout. ‘I opted for a neutral backdrop of white and silver in the kitchen and I accessorise depending on the seasons,’ she explains. ‘I wanted the living room to feel decadent, but also contemporary, so I used mirrored furniture and crystal trimmings.’ She chose super-sized, velvet Chesterfield sofas in silver and fluffy throws for cold nights. ‘There’s nothing nicer than being wrapped up in front of the log burner, surrounded by candles,’ she says. ‘It feels like we’ve created our own magical winter wonderland.’
The couple’s two teenage daughters were given the freedom to decorate their own bedrooms. ‘Jessie has a similar style to me, but Maria, our youngest, chose French chic, bringing in her own unique taste and personality,’ Trisha says.
Trisha is passionate about interior design and this is highlighted in her attention to detail, elegant style and considered choices, which have all come together to create a fabulous scheme. The project is an evolving process and there are still a few things left to do. ‘Our next task is the front of the property: we want to clad the building in cedar, which will naturally turn to a soft grey over time,’ Trisha explains. ‘For me, this house is more than a home; it’s part of the family and a true reflection of us.’
Photography: Fiona Walker-Arnott