For the past five years, Anna Cordle has been living in suburban Bristol with her husband, James, their three daughters and three silkie bantam hens in a 1930s semi-detached property. Originally from a National Trust village in Oxfordshire and James from Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham, Anna wanted the place they lived to find a balance between country and city life.
“Before here, we lived in a small Victorian terrace near the city centre, where we were very happy, but once we were expecting our second child, we knew we wanted more space both inside and out for our growing family,” says Anna. “When we moved from our period home to this one, we sacrificed curb appeal for buckets more space, and we are blessed with an enormous garden because of the corner plot that we are on.”
The property was on the market under budget because of its peculiar layout, but Anna’s friend, who runs a building firm, came to view it and help them see the full potential of the building. The first three months were spent redeveloping, two of which the family had to live elsewhere while a building team knocked down interior walls in the extension at the back of the house to create a large L-shaped kitchen diner.
“We moved the kitchen into the central part of the building and installed a large island, and the end section became a dining area and seating space with a sofa and the children’s books and toys,” says Anna. “We decided against large bi-folds in favour of two sets of French windows which overlook the garden, and this creates definition between the dining and play area.”
They also reinstated a wall between the front living room and the central reception space (which now forms the kitchen) to create a cosy space for evenings. Upstairs, they extended a small shower room to create a family bathroom and then converted the loft space into a large double room with an en-suite shower room for her and James.
The final renovation was downstairs, where they cut the garage in half to create a utility and downstairs toilet off the kitchen. “This space is rarely tidy, but it’s incredibly useful and a joy to be able to shut the door to the laundry,” she says.
“So much of what we have done is based on spending our budget wisely and investing in foundations which we can add to over time. Our kitchen is from DIY Kitchens – a shaker-style kitchen in cornflower blue with a Carrera marble worktop, which is probably our biggest investment. I find the shaker kitchen to be a classic which doesn’t date, and I felt so drawn to this soft blue which creates such a calm backdrop to our busy family life.”
Anna, who works as an interior designer, studied architecture and finds inspiration in growing up in a beautifully preserved Cotswold village, a feeling she attempts to distil within her family home.
“I’m always trying to bring a bit of my country heart to suburbia, and so our style is largely informed by a soft, natural palette and the use of natural materials. I seek to create a sense of calm in the interiors I create, believing deeply that the spaces we are in can hold us and nurture us. We like to combine natural textures of wood, linen and wool and focus on how a space feels as much as how it might look in a picture.”
One of Anna’s favourite items in their home is a church pew under the window in their kitchen. “We bought it on a weekend away in Hay-on-Wye when we were first married, and it’s such a special piece of furniture,” she says. “It’s used daily by us and the children, and it’s often a holding space for a half-finished craft project or Lego creation.”
Anna’s strategy for styling interiors is to have consistent foundations so that she can buy pieces on a whim which tend to fit congruously with the broader theme. Since launching her interior design business earlier this year, her home was a test bed for how she’d handle future projects.
“I sat with my husband, who has little interest beyond the practicality of our space, and together we defined the style of home that we wanted,” she says. “Pouring over magazines and interior books, we managed to rule in and rule out various materials, colours, styles, layouts and general approaches, which meant we would create a consistency of style as we decorated our home.”
“My husband is relieved to hear that I feel our own home is ‘done’ and he can rest easy that I don’t have any major projects on the horizon, but I am thrilled to be working in the interiors field now, helping others to create spaces that they love.”