If Lucy Howard’s West Sussex home could talk, it would no doubt be offering her its heartfelt thanks. From a property that appeared to be stuck in an Eighties rut – think colour combinations of oxblood red and apricot, plus black- stained beams – she has created a home that is stylish and supremely comfortable, with fresh country schemes that carefully respect the period style of the building.It is Lucy’s enthusiasm, drive and, in her own words, ‘a lot of bossing’ that has turned this Grade II-listed cottage into the welcoming home that she shares with her husband Joe, a lawyer, teenage sons Harry and Oliver and two miniature dachshunds, Lottie and Linus. The first time the couple, who were based in London, drove down to visit it in 2008, Lucy recalls that they took one look at the breathtaking view from the garden across the South Downs National Park and knew this was the one. ‘That was before we had even set foot inside the house,’ she laughs. ‘We’d been coming to the area for years because Joe’s parents have a house nearby, so we knew that places in a location like this rarely come up for sale.’ The building, which was formerly two workers’ cottages serving the nearby farm, dates back to 1660, with later additions in the 1900s.