Pickle supremo Sarah Puckett’s stylish York home is for sale now that she has a new property challenge. Sharon Dale reports.
Prospective buyers will no doubt be impressed with the interiors in Sarah Puckett’s stylish home but the property also has a foodie claim to fame.
The period townhouse in York, which is now on the market with Carter Jonas for £335,000, is the birthplace of Puckett’s Pickles.
Until recently, the kitchen was the epicentre of Sarah’s artisan food business. Using two big jam pans and old family recipes, she cooked up enough chutneys and pickles to fill 200 jars a day.
She reclaimed the space for purely domestic purposes after orders flooded in from delis, mail order customers and top chefs, including Andrew Pern and Tom Kerridge.
She now has her own “Pickle Palace, a small unit on an industrial park, along with a new custom-made 160-litre pickling pan and two part-time staff - all essential to help cope with a growing demand for her delicious concoctions, which include curried greens pickle, Puckalilli and beetroot and orange chutney.
The business move is not the only big life change for Sarah. She and her partner have just bought a Victorian villa in need of complete renovation, which is why she has put the “For Sale” sign up on her much-loved house in Heworth.
She has mixed emotions about selling up as she loves her home and the neighbourhood.
She bought the property on Heworth Road 11 years ago after relocating from the south to become Pret a Manger’s North of England operations manager.
“The company put me up in a flat in Leeds city centre at first and I hated it. I like old houses with history and so I moved from there pretty quickly.
“I liked York and when I viewed this house it had a really nice feel and so I bought it. I love it and I’ve been very happy here,” she says.
While the property was well maintained, the decor wasn’t her style.
“It was quite twee and I like a juxtaposition of an old house with contemporary interiors, though I don’t follow trends. I go with my heart and buy what I like,” she says, adding that she prefers a “less is more” approach.
“That might be a reaction to growing up in the 1980s when my mum decorated with Laura Ashley florals, wallpaper borders and lots of antiques.”
She also dislikes every room in a house being painted a different colour and has used a soft white Little Greene paint on the walls throughout her home.
The only exception is the hall and stairs where Nina Campbell’s Swan Lake wallpaper is the star of show.
It leads to two bedrooms on the first floor and a bathroom that has been totally transformed thanks to smart new sanitary ware and the removal of a separate shower and a chimney breast.
Sarah also had the loft converted into a third bedroom, which has views of York Minster.
Downstairs, she turned what was a completely open plan layout into a more flexible space.
She had glazed doors installed between the sitting area and the dining area so natural light flows through but there is separation, when needed
“In winter we shut the doors and have the sitting area next to the woodburner so it is xtra cosy but in summer we swap the use and have the dining table in here,” says Sarah, who also had the front bay window re-fixed.
“I looked at changing it for uPVC double glazing but it would’ve destroyed the character of the original glass, which I really love.
“To improve insulation I bought shutters. They allow sunlight in but give privacy and they don’t cost much more than a good set of curtains.”
The carpets are all British wool from Calverts and mimic the seagrass she really wanted until realising it was impractical and hard to clean.
Furniture and furnishings are a mix of investment and bargain buys teamed with homemade items. The dining table cost £10 from a Facebook Buy and Sell group but the Philippe Starck Ghost chairs were £200 each. Sarah made the shot silk cushions herself in an acid yellow fabric that matches the lamps, which she bought from the sale section at HomeSense.
The kitchen features sturdy, well-designed bespoke cabinets handmade by the previous owner, a carpenter. It has, of course, passed the ultimate test after being used as a commercial kitchen.
It was commandeered for full-scale production in 2013 after work colleagues raved about the homemade chutneys and pickles Sarah brought in to enliven working lunches.
They are a Puckett family speciality. Her forebears were seafarers who brought back interesting spices from far flung places. Their wives would then use them to make pickles.
The recipes have been passed down through the generations and Sarah has since adapted them and added many of her own.
One of the best-sellers is Captain Puckett’s pickled onions, devised by her father, a former sea captain.
The vegetables she uses in her relishes are British and carefully sourced. She recommends Love’s, the local greengrocer in Heworth.
The store, along with other independent shops, are all part of the area’s appeal.
Sarah believes that Heworth is “a bit of an unsung hero” compared to York’s trendy Bishopthorpe Road area, which has been branded the Notting Hill of the North.
“Heworth is pretty with a village feel, it’s in walking distance of the city centre and it has some great shops, a golf club and a tennis club,” says Sarah.
“It’s not got fashionable status like Bishy Road but that may be a good thing. It’s got its own charm.”
*Sarah’s house on Heworth Road, York, is for sale with Carter Jonas tel: 01904 558200; www.puckettspickles.co.uk