This oak barn in Herefordshire is a wonderful place to spend Christmas

A couple of seasoned self builders have created a beautiful oak framed home for their family

kitchen area with worktop and dining table
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

With its mellow weatherboarded façade, red tiled roof and grey-green woodwork, this cosy oak-framed home couldn’t be a more welcoming spot to spend the festive season, especially as the owners built the property themselves with the help of their family.

Taking on a self-build is a brave move, but it was always the preferred option for the couple as his father worked in the building trade for more than 40 years. ‘My in-laws built their own home when Steven was a child,’ says Wendy. ‘So the idea of buying land to do a self-build was imprinted in his DNA.’

Read real-life decorating stories in our real homes section

In fact, Steven’s parents had already helped the couple build their previous home – a two-bedroomed lime-rendered cottage – and pitched in with this one, too. ‘When I became pregnant with our second daughter, we decided to build a bigger home as we’d outgrown the cottage. We moved into a rented house while we looked for land,’ says the owner.

Then a plot came up via Border Oak, with planning approval already in place for a weatherboarded barn. ‘It was the right location and the right sort of house for us,’ says the owner. ‘The plot had somehow slipped through other interested buyers’ hands for two years but it was perfect timing for us. It’s also a huge amount of work getting planning permission, so the fact that it already had it in place was a big plus.’


house exterior with green windows and door

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

The couple had also used Border Oak as the supplier for their previous self-build. ‘I love the marriage of traditional building methods and modern technology that you get with Border Oak houses – it’s the best of both worlds.'

They were able to make some small changes to the original plans, such as moving the dining room from its original central location to the end of the kitchen and removing the downstairs doors to create an open-plan feel.

They took on the majority of the build themselves, subcontracting some specialist skills and using the Border Oak team to set up the oak frame and complete the watertight shell. Structural insulated panels, along with underfloor heating downstairs, ensure the house is always warm and toasty.


white hallway with blue table and wreath

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

When it came to the interior, the owner plumped for a neutral backdrop. ‘I’m a bright white girl,’ she says. ‘I like white walls mixed with natural textures – that way the home can speak for itself.'

Simple decorations add a festive touch.

Get the look
Buy now: Oak peg rail, £38, Baileys
Buy now: Walls painted in Pure Brilliant White by Dulux, £22 for 10ltrs, B&Q


kitchen with white worktop and dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Despite being a new build, the house has an older, country feel thanks to its rustic beams and Shaker cabinetry.

'Because we’ve done back-to-back self-builds, we weren’t so hard on ourselves with the interior of this one. I’ve paid homage to British classics – we have a Shaker kitchen, heritage colours, blacksmith ironmongery, wool carpets and natural oak flooring.'

'I also paid a lot of attention to the taps – they’re the jewellery of your home so I spend more on them.’

white dining room with table and wooden floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

The American-born owner wanted to recreate the type of open-plan layout she grew up with.

Get the look
Buy now: Camargue Solid Oak Dining Chair - Burnt Oak, £195 each, Oka
Buy now: Aged copper pendant ceiling lights, £175 each, Baileys

Utility room

utility room with worktop and white cupboard

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Having this extra space means the owners can keep seasonal crafting out of the kitchen.

Living room

living room with blue sofa and wooden floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

The owner has added interest to the monochrome sofas with stylish pattern, while warm wood and a leather pouffe create a cosy feel.

Get the look
Buy now: Milan cushions on grey sofa, £59.95, Bronte by Moon
Buy now: Real Christmas tree, from a selection, Pines and Needles

Master bedroom

white bedroom with bed and carept floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

A neutral scheme can be instantly warmed up with a few throws and cushions.

white bedroom with bed and white table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Child's bedroom

white bedroom with bed and carpet floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

A wrought-iron bed, Christmas lights and pretty bunting contribute to the fairy-tale feel.

The house has proved perfect for bringing up a family. ‘It’s a great home for the girls,’ says Wendy. ‘The village school is only a five-minute walk away and we have a nature reserve, lake and two pubs within strolling distance. With the woods behind us and fields of cows as our morning view, it makes us feel that we are raising the children in a pure and simple way.’

Ready for another? Step inside an extended four-bedroom Edwardian house, all dressed up for Christmas

Picturesque surroundings and plenty of guest space mean the house works particularly well at Christmas and New Year. ‘I like to create little arrangements, such as festive floral displays, and we have evergreen trees all around us so I line the windows with foliage from our garden,’ says Wendy. ‘Last year, with my American family and my in-laws, we had 12 visitors in total. We decorated at the back with Christmas lights and had open fires in the garden'.

'We put an extra table in the dining space to accommodate everyone for Christmas dinner and then we all went to the local pub afterwards!’