Take a look inside Suffolk’s newest luxury countryside venue

Cheryl Finlaysonm owner of The Annex in Debenham

Cheryl Finlaysonm owner of The Annex in Debenham - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Early retirement sounds like the dream, doesn’t it? Not for some, however.   

Not one to rest on of her laurels, one local woman took early retirement in 2020, but soon realised she wasn’t ready for the quiet life just yet. Since then, she has launched her very own stylish accommodation and events business in the heart of the Suffolk countryside – and has big hopes and dreams for it.   

Cheryl Finlayson, while maintaining her social work registration, decided to sell her former companies and try her hand at her other passion in life – interior design.   

Cheryl Finlayson

Cheryl Finlayson - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The Ipswich native has just thrown open the doors to RELM – a variety of luxury venues available for hire that she designed herself.   

Explaining the inspiration behind RELM, she says: “I was thinking about my next steps, and realised that I didn’t want to retire completely – I’m not ready for the retired life just yet. I have always enjoyed setting up new businesses, and I love to take on a challenge.   

“I wanted to do something different and I’ve always had an interest in property and interior design. I had an outbuilding in my garden, so thought I could turn it into an event venue and go from there.”  

The Annex in Debenham

The Annex in Debenham - Credit: Charlotte Bond

After months of hard work, she turned her Debenham home and outbuilding – which she has dubbed The Annex – into a unique loft-living style entertainment space which she says is ‘the perfect venue for private dining experiences, intimate weddings, and parties, as well as ideal for filming and photography.”  

Most Read

And when you step inside, you can immediately see why. 

The property features exposed brick throughout, paired with elegant wood finishes. Fitted with an array of modern appliances, natural light pours in thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows.  

A stone’s throw away from Debenham Parish Church, it can host up to 100 guests inside and outside.  

Inside The Annex

Inside The Annex - Credit: Charlotte Bond

When asked to describe her style and what inspires her, Cheryl says: “I’d say it’s eclectic – but I’m like that in life. Everything I do is different, and when I set up RELM and my venues, I took inspiration from a number of styles, including industrial, antique and modern touches. I just know if I see something, it’ll work.”  

Alongside The Annex, Cheryl has also poured her heart and soul into nearby Cooks Retreat, a traditional 18th-century village home that previously served as Debenham’s pharmacy, as well as a villa and outhouse in Mojacar, Spain.  

A personal project for herself and her creative passions, she also established RELM – the name of which stands for the initials of her four grandchildren – as a family business, which she hopes to pass down to her children in the future.   

Inside The Annex

Inside The Annex - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“I have always worked hard for my family, having been a single parent, and I am proud of my achievements which have always had my children and grandchildren as their focus. My family is so important to me - they were the ones who suggested I had a natural eye for interior design, so I want the company to be a legacy for them,” she says.  

But one of her biggest aims with her venture is to help boost local economy in Debenham following the tumultuous pandemic.  

“I’ve got a real sense of community, and if things take off, ideally I’d like to do different events and promote local people and local businesses, so it really adds something to the area. For instance, if someone has a wedding here, I’ll be sure to promote local photographers and caterers when they book, in the hope of giving jobs to local people.”  

Inside The Annex

Inside The Annex - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Cheryl – who has already started taking bookings from businesses wanting to do photoshoots and location filming – also hopes to host charity events in the future, as a way of giving back.   

Inside The Annex

Inside The Annex - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“I am keen to support charity work and use my venues to host something to help youngsters who are struggling with mental health,” she says.

To find out more about Cheryl and RELM, visit relmvenues.com