The owner of this beautiful country home has something of a passion for breathing new life into old houses. ‘One day I went to the hairdressers in a nearby village and looked out and saw an old property with a handsome facade that looked sad and completely unloved,’ she says of the house she now lives in. ‘Half of the windows were missing and it felt like it needed rescuing, but I loved it. Then, luckily, I discovered that it was up for sale through auction.’
The old school house is located in an iconic historic village and the owner was won over by its past and its period features. ‘It was the beautiful wooden staircases that sold it to me,’ she says. Having decided to take the plunge, the owner was keen to undertake the building work using traditional methods wherever possible. ‘Whenever we replaced plaster, I got the Traditional Plastering Company to do it with lath and plaster, and where there was damp we used pig fat.’
The owner and her daughter moved in and had to live with the builders for some time while the renovation was carried out. ‘As my daughter was only four at the time, it wasn’t very pleasant,’ says the owner. But the hard work has resulted in a wonderfully welcoming home. ‘It’s a house that needs using and it attracts people,’ she says. ‘Friends often let themselves in and make a cup of tea.’
This house tour originally appeared in Country Homes & Interiors, March 2017
The Grade II-listed former school house was designed by Francis Smith of Warwick and dates back to 1707. The owner moved in 11 years ago, but though she had fallen in love with the exterior, lots of work was needed to turn it into a home. This included tanking out the cellar, which had flooded, and putting in a pump. Windows also needed to be replaced and, as there were only old three-bar electric fires for heating, installing central heating was a high priority. In addition, the house was completely rewired and re-plumbed.
The owner shied away from creating a traditional interior, opting instead for a more modern style with an eclectic feel, encompassing old and new pieces and statement artworks. ‘I can’t imagine having achieved what I have without my builder and decorator,’ she says. ‘They are brilliant and make me feel like anything is possible.'
A tongue-and-groove splashback, cream Shaker units and a farmhouse table create a signature country look. Cupboards and shelving on the wall have been painted in a different hue to inject some colour. The soft blue shade is also great for showing off the owner's beautiful collection of china.
The eclectic style of the owner's home is enhanced by her careful eye for a bargain. 'As well as buying from galleries and antique shops, I've been known to rescue things from tips and bonfires,' she says. 'I can't bear things being thrown away!' We must say, the resulting mix is anything but junk yard.
The corner location of this bedroom means it benefits from windows on two sides. A full-length mirror has been carefully placed in the centre of the room to reflect light and make the well-sized space seem even larger. A cream palette creates a soothing scheme, while an eye-catching pendant light makes a statement.
This is the owner's daughter's bedroom and it enjoys a peaceful attic setting that's full of character. Bringing the period features in the house back to life required a lot of work. For instance, the beams all had to be carefully cleaned, a task which was undertaken by the owner and a friend. Wallpaper has been used higher up the sloping ceiling to create a pretty backdrop.
This is one of two new bathrooms that were installed during the renovations. Wooden panelling was added to the walls to enhance the period feel and provide insulation. A luxe fabric blind complements the colour of the wood, while trinkets on the window sill give the space a homely feel.
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The house has a generously sized back garden, which means there's plenty of space for the owner's dog, Lolly, to trot about. The stunning view of historic landmarks in the village makes it the perfect space to enjoy a cup of morning coffee, too.
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