Love at first sight - despite 70s decor
First impressions make a huge difference when you're looking at a house. Just ask Helen May and Neil Sidaway. The kerb appeal of their home in Cumwhinton got them over the threshold 18 years ago and the charms of the house did the rest - despite the 70s colour scheme.
"We'd previously lived in Great Corby and thought Ash Tree Cottage had great kerb appeal when we were searching for a new home," Helen said. "It looks a friendly, welcoming house. We have always loved old Cumbrian sandstone houses and it fitted the bill."
They returned to the area after living and working abroad and in Suffolk - Neil is a tree surgeon and Helen a physiotherapist now employed at Cumberland Infirmary.
"The big draw for us was the Lake District. Cumwhinton is really handy for the M6 and you can be in the fells in no time," she said.
The couple, who celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in just over a week's time, have two sons Harry, 14, and 12-year-old George.
Ash Tree Cottage, which was built about 1890, is double-fronted with two reception rooms and four bedrooms.
"The house had been rented before we bought it and was a bit unloved to say the least," Helen said. "It had been rewired but had no central heating or damp-proof course and not much of a kitchen to speak of.
"It did have some amazing 70s decor though - there was a turquoise bathroom suite with bright orange walls and the dining room was painted bright red.
"We have fitted gas central heating, and a gas fire in the dining room as well as a wood-burning stove in the sitting room - with Neil’s job, we have no shortage of logs! And we now have a great kitchen with double doors that open into the garden.
"The windows are a real feature of the front of the house but sadly the original windows were draughty and past their best, so we had to replace them. We had the replacements specially made in wood to be as similar to the originals as possible although they are now double glazed, thankfully. I think it’s important to retain the character of an old house when you can."
The cottage has the reception rooms at the front, with the sitting room on one side of the entrance hall and the dining room, which has wooden flooring, on the other.
The main bedroom has fitted cupboards and a fireplace and one of the other bedrooms also has a fireplace. The three-piece bathroom has a tiled floor.
Outside are front and back gardens and a garage.
Helen said: "We purchased an extra piece of garden at the back of the house which has made the garden feel more in scale with the house. It has a lawn and a range of mainly perennial shrubs and so is fairly low maintenance.
"The front garden is lawn and paving which is a great area for children and is mainly used for football! The best thing about the outdoor space is that there is a path right round the house which my children spent hours riding round on bikes when they were younger. There is also a large detached sandstone garage which Neil uses for his business.
"We have lovely views of the fields and I love the character of the house, such as the original fireplaces in the bedrooms and tiles in the bathroom. I will have many happy memories of bringing up a family here.
"We are very sad to be leaving but Neil needs more space for his business, where he can store wood, etc, and we would like to be closer to Brampton for the boys’ school and friends."