Real home: explore an 18th-century converted coach house

Theresa and Joseph Mankelow have breathed new life into an 18th-century coach house, creating a colourful and classic country-style home and garden

converted coach house
(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

Do you dream of living in a colourful country home with a garden billowing with vibrant summer blooms? If so, this project is is guaranteed to inspire you. Read on to discover Theresa and Joseph's coach house transformation story, then see more of our real homes for further ideas.

Adding just one extra mile onto the search area for her dream home brought surprising rewards for Theresa Mankelow, who uncovered a historic gem of a property with plenty of scope to create a delightful garden. 

‘I’d been looking for a characterful house near my old home for some time, and was starting to feel rather frustrated as nothing was materialising,’ recalls Theresa. ‘However, when a first-time buyer made me an offer, I looked just that little bit further afield and happened upon a wonderful coach house that instantly piqued my interest.’

converted coach house garden

Theresa and Joseph live in one half of a former coach house. The property’s mellow ironstone is the perfect backdrop for the walled garden, which has been filled with David Austin roses and landscaped to create several sitting areas

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)
THE STORY

Owners: Theresa and Joseph Mankelow live here. Theresa is a public servant and Joseph is a geoscientist. See more of the coach house on Instagram @theslightlycockledchimney

Property: A three-bedroom Grade II-listed coach house, built in 1785 in Leicestershire

What they did: The couple have spent 10 years putting their own stamp on the house, including fitting a wood-burning stove and redecorating throughout. In 2017, the garden was redesigned

Back in 2009, Theresa had been living in the sought-after town of West Bridgford, near Nottingham, in a Victorian terraced house.

‘I wanted to find another period home – one with space for family and friends to stay, plus a garden that I could look out at and admire,’ says Theresa. ‘My last house was split over a few levels and the back garden was only visible from the spare room. I could garden all day and never see the fruits of my labour when I sat down in the evening.’ 

converted coach house

This garden seating area features a table and chairs from Holloways. The tablecloth and cushions are from Susie Watson Designs. Windows and doors have been painted in Dulux’s County Cream. The obelisks are by JM Garden Obelisks, painted in Farrow & Ball’s Chappell Green

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer / Styling Pippa Blenkinsop)

The housing market was slow at the time, so when Theresa eventually received an offer and increased her search area she couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted the old coach house. She set up a viewing with husband-to-be Joseph and the couple were instantly struck by the beautiful ironstone dwelling, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, in the Vale of Belvoir. 

converted coach house

Theresa painted an Ikea table in Farrow & Ball’s James White to match the French antique dining chairs, found at The French Depot. The chandelier was sourced from Ebay and given a fresh new look with a coat of Annie Sloan’s Old White Chalk Paint

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer / Styling Pippa Blenkinsop)

‘It was an extremely attractive building,’ says Theresa. ‘We loved the high ceilings, the period features and the overall feel of the property. And you could see the garden very clearly from all the main living spaces.’

converted coach house

To create a modern country kitchen, Theresa painted the units in Farrow & Ball’s White Tie, and retiled the splashback above the existing Aga with Metro tiles from B&Q. The guinea fowl ceramics on the shelf are from Les Céramiques de Lussan; the teatowel is from Thornback & Peel 

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

Originally a coach house and stables, it was built in 1785 and was part of the Belvoir Estate – the home of the Duke of Rutland, who lives at Belvoir Castle. In the 1920s, the coach house was sold by private treaty and then converted into a home. Theresa and Joseph were delighted to become its new owners in May 2009, and couldn’t wait to start putting their stamp on the lucky find.

converted coach house

The dresser at the back of the kitchen was a bespoke piece, made by a local carpenter who has since retired. Theresa uses it to display her favourite ceramics, including Nicholas Mosse and Emma Bridgewater pieces, and some vintage items bought online and in antiques shops

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

‘At the time, every room was painted a yellowy cream, and there was a lot of dark wood and wrought-iron fittings throughout,’ says Theresa. Keen to lighten their home and soften the edges a bit, Theresa embarked on a mission to inject every room with colour, pattern and personality. 

As soon as the winter chill descended on their new acquisition, however, Theresa and Joseph realised they needed to hurriedly investigate how to make it more cosy.

‘ Since the house is listed, we couldn’t replace the single-glazed sash windows,’ explains Theresa. ‘However, my mum came to the rescue. Every pair of curtains she made for our home has thermal linings, to keep draughts at bay.’

converted coach house

Theresa couldn’t resist this armoire, spotted on Etsy. The tablecloth is from Walton & Co, while the rabbit cushion was bought from Rosablue. The curtains were made by Theresa’s mum Corinne, from fabric sourced at Tinsmiths

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

After a rather frightening incident with the ineffective oil-burning stove, when a massive fireball ripped straight up the chimney, the couple swiftly had the chimney relined and changed the stove for a wood-burner. ‘It provides substantially more heat and is much safer,’ says Theresa. 

converted coach house

Theresa and Joseph had to have the chimney lined before fitting a new Beaumont wood-burner from Chesneys, after a faulty old oil-fired stove sent a fireball up the chimney. 

The large multicoloured rug is from John Lewis; for similar sofas try Sofas & Stuff. The striped throw is by Susie Watson Designs, while the checked one is an old M&S favourite; the coffee table is from Scumble Goosie. Framed antique Swedish herbariums from Stenvall Interiors make an unusual gallery wall. The panelling has been painted in Farrow & Ball’s Off-White

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

converted coach house

Tureens, bought at antiques fairs, are displayed in a Victorian school cupboard that was once stored in Theresa’s parents’ garage. The top doors have been glazed to show off the collection. The Sudbury Rose curtain fabric is from Tinsmiths and the floral cushions are made from a vintage Crowson fabric. For a similar sofa, try Loaf; the Mika cushion is from Susie Watson Designs

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

Over the past 10 years, Theresa has gradually created a modern country look for the coach house, adding French objects and antiques, bought from a treasure trove of mainly independent shops and through online sellers.

converted coach house

Theresa didn’t want the dining area to dominate the open-plan space so selected a slimline table that extends to comfortably seat eight. For a similar table and chairs, try Ikea. A mirror, left by the previous owners, has been spray painted in Farrow & Ball’s Off-White. The chandelier, from The French Depot, was rewired locally. The tablecloth is from Cabbages & Roses. In the frames are hand-tinted book plates of nests, from an old book; try Hattie Hatfield Decorative Antiques & Interiors for similar

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

‘I quickly discovered that larger pieces of furniture work very well here, so I’ve painted many of the solid, dark wood items that I’ve come across,’ says Theresa. ‘I like floral patterns and have chosen larger designs, rather than smaller prints that might look twee with the property’s high ceilings and big windows.’

converted coach house

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

One of the most dramatic changes at the coach house has been outside in the recently landscaped garden, which was previously an expanse of uneven granite sets and crumbling herringbone paths, surrounded by several overgrown fir trees.

‘When Joseph and I were married at the local church in 2012, we held our wedding reception here,’ says Theresa. ‘This was before we did any work in the garden, so there was plenty of room for a marquee.’

converted coach house

When deciding on the scheme for their master bedroom, Theresa chose her favourite colour combination of blue and white for a fresh, relaxed look. With a starting point of Hatley Blue fabric from Cabbages & Roses, Theresa created a romantic space with a French feel. The bed is from The Original Bedstead Co, and the bedside tables, console table and chest of drawers are from Laura Ashley. The wall is painted in China Blue from B&Q

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

Five years later, with the help of local garden designer Nikki Applewhite, the couple tackled a major project to create a semi-formal garden that referenced the symmetry of the Georgian home. ‘The four flower beds, each with an obelisk, have been planted with pretty cottage garden favourites, ranging from roses to lavender,’ adds Theresa.

converted coach house

For continuity, the en suite to the twin bedroom features the same Cath Kidston wallpaper, with tongue-and-groove panelling painted in Farrow & Ball’s Teresa’s Green. The stripy rug is from TK Maxx. Theresa eventually plans to repaint the roll-top bath 

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

There’s no doubt that Theresa and Joseph have relished every step of transforming this unique property. ‘We love being the custodians of such a special home and garden,’ says Theresa. ‘There are times when I nearly pinch myself, since I still can’t quite believe we’ve been lucky enough to find such a beautiful and peaceful place to live.’ 

twin bedroom

Theresa chose Cath Kidston’s pretty Birds and Roses wallpaper for the guest bedroom, complemented by checked cushions from Ikea. The ornate bedside table is from The French Depot, while the white bedspreads are from TK Maxx. For similar painted wooden beds, try Cotswold Co

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

converted coach house

The wooden bench was a wedding present from Theresa’s brother and has been painted in Farrow & Ball’s Green Blue. The clock was a gift from Theresa’s mother; try The Garden Factory for similar. The cushions are all from Susie Watson Designs

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

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