A Suffolk home shows its true colours


SGL INTERIORS - INCE - Credit: Archant

Ruth and Richard Ince’s seaside cottage is quaint on the outside, but a bright and breezy high-tech home for the 21st century on the inside. Words and pictures by Tony Hall


SGL INTERIORS - INCE - Credit: Archant

Ruth and Richard Ince live in a period country property at Mendlesham, where, says Ruth, all the decor and furniture suits the interiors.

“Buying this seaside holiday home in Aldeburgh required a totally different approach,” she says. “I wanted to really put my stamp on all the interiors.

“Fortunately I had some time as this cottage needed complete renovation from top to bottom. This also influenced my decisions as there were no period details left when we bought it.

“My inspiration and the theme is based on the stripes on seaside deck chairs. So with the help of a good friend, Gill Hodgson, an artist and interior designer from Waldringfield, we found the main stripe fabric used throughout, which is Cricket Yellow by Deckchair Stripes (01244 336387). This gave us reference points such as wall colours and accessories used in different rooms.”


SGL INTERIORS - INCE - Credit: Archant

Both Richard and Ruth are Suffolk born and bred, Ruth from Brantham and Richard from Stowmarket. Richard has always been into computers and high tech. On leaving school and college he went to work for Tucks animal feeds, which was later bought by BOCM Pauls.

A man always ahead of his time, Richard soon realised that the company, in its infancy as far as computers were concerned, had no software programmes that suited their specific business. So, he started building one precisely for their needs.

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Later, Richard left and started his own software development company, which became the market leader. Five years ago, a Canadian company made Richard an offer to buy him out, which he took.

“We’ve been coming to Aldeburgh for >>


SGL INTERIORS - INCE - Credit: Archant

>> years,” says Ruth. “We used to rent a cottage in the school holidays to be here for Carnival Week. It became a family tradition and the children met up with friends who, likewise, made it an annual occasion.”

“Since selling my business I’ve had more time to concentrate on property,” says Richard, “so when the opportunity to buy this cottage in our favourite place, Aldeburgh, arose, we couldn’t resist.

“It needed top to toe renovation. I’m a stickler for things being right, so I stripped the whole place literally back to the original brickwork shell. I can honestly say that today this charming cottage is probably even better structurally because of modern building techniques than when it was first built, probably as a fisherman’s home in the 1800s.”

Richard and Ruth have renovated two other Aldeburgh properties, Magenta and 248 High Street, and have used the same companies and tradespeople each time. All their bathrooms and kitchens, as well as built-in furniture has been made by Anglia Factors at Martlesham, while all the electrical work is done by Graham Moore at Old Newton, Stowmarket.

The end result of the Inces’ hard graft is a stunning holiday home, just a few steps from the beach and sea. Originally it was two narrow rooms downstairs with a tiny kitchen. Now, as you enter from the lobby hall you immediately turn left into the sizeable, open plan living room, with a kitchen at the other end.

The kitchen, with its centre island that doubles as the dining area, is fully equipped with the latest appliances and every kitchen implement.

“Outside we have a small courtyard garden,” says Ruth, “which is very sheltered and a great spot to have a meal or a drink.”

The living room has two colourful chairs and a sofa gathered around the very realistic wall fire, which provides radiant heat from the glass. Above is a plasma screen TV, but to the right, sitting on a shelf is Richard’s pride and joy. At first >>

>> glance, it appears to be just an iPad – a nice touch you think. But this gizmo is no ordinary iPad, rather it controls every aspect of 21st century living in this cottage.

“Name a song or CD track you would like to hear,” he says proudly. “I can control, from this iPad, which rooms to have the tracks playing in, but I can also control most facilities in the house all from here.”

”It’s very much a boy thing,” says Ruth, although she points out that everyone is looked after with a fabulous kitchen, soft furnishings and bathrooms.

“For us the great novelty is being able to walk everywhere. There is such a good range of independent shops and restaurants. Our two favourites are the Regatta and the Lighthouse, both situated in the High Street.

“We also enjoy cycling along the river wall, out to the Brick Dock, taking a picnic or to Snape Maltings along the Sailors Path. Our 12-year-old black Labrador, Tess, comes as well.” The couple’s children – Charlotte, 26, and James, 24, both live in London, and still enjoy visiting Aldebugh whenever possible.

When Richard can tear himself away from his renovation business, he loves the country pursuit of shooting and, by contrast, motor racing.

“I have always liked open sports car racing, such as the cars you see at Le Mans. I started when I was 40 and gained enough experience to become a world champion in 2006 and 2009, in major UK events and at Spa in Belgium.

“I gave up in 2010, bowing out at the top, for the quieter life here in Suffolk, by the sea and in the countryside. Ruth and I are so pleased to live in such a delightful place.

“One can have the delights of a traditional seaside town, surrounded by beautiful countryside and the River Alde, staying in a period cottage, but one that is now very much both structurally and convenience wise part of the 21st century. Quite a cottage of contrasts!”

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