The reasons for buying a house vary from person to person – good local schools, proximity to family, transport links – but sometimes a property comes along that is just too good an opportunity to miss, despite the fact it needs an enormous amount of work doing to it. This Grade II-listed former inn, in Warwickshire, was one such place. It captured the couple, who went on to buy it, immediately.
Living in London at the time, they were looking for a more spacious house in a village when a friend (who renovates properties) found what looked like a perfect house in the conservation area of an idyllic village. A picturesque Tudor property with a timbered frame and limewashed facade, it had a fascinating history… as the inn where the gunpowder plot conspirators met on the 5th November 1605 to await the news of Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament!
‘We loved the exterior of the house, but the interior was a wreck,’ they say. ‘It had no central heating and there was a single light bulb in each room. It was quite dark and dated, and there was just one bathroom.’ However, the couple could see the property’s potential, and entrusted the 8-month renovation job to their friend.
This house originally appeared in Country Homes & Interiors, November 2016
After carrying out essential structural work, re-wiring throughout and installing central heating, the owners submitted plans to the local conservation officer - with help from an architect - which involved changing the first-floor layout and converting two outbuildings. With this approved, they could get to work on the interior.
Keen to have a white backdrop that would maximise light and offset the low, beamed ceilings, the owners decorated their living room using a light colour palette, layering traditionally woven wool rugs to add bursts of warm colour. The original structural beams, complete with doorway, create a fascinating and interesting room divider.
Tetrad Harris Tweed
Beams and low ceilings reveal the heritage of this house, while the mellow tones of leather and wood furniture combine with woollen and tweed upholstery fabrics to create a homely feel that's perfect for hunkering down in winter. Roaring fires in a wood-burning stove, which has been fitted in this traditional arched brick fireplace, help to enhance this feeling.
Farrow & Ball
The Sack Store
Most of the beams in the house were left as they were, but in the kitchen they were painted white to help create an airy feel. Antique wooden dining furniture - such as the farmhouse-style wooden table and Windsor chairs - were chosen to add warmth. They also stand out against the white backdrop, which is boosted further by handmade plates from Spain that provide cheerful pops of colour in this otherwise neutral space.
The kitchen was fitted with new oak cabinets in a Shaker style, which together with the chequerboard splashback, limestone floor tiles and cream AGA, create a classic country style. The odd nooks and crannies created by the mantels, beams and recesses in the kitchen, emphasise the quirky character of this house, but have been used cleverly to provide storage space for cookery books and Kilner jars.
The Sack Store
Accents of orange and red can be seen throughout the house, and the dining room is one of the spaces that particularly benefits from this colour palette. The heritage red walls tone beautifully with the deep natural hues of the beamed ceiling to ensure a cosy atmosphere for entertaining friends and family. White panelling, wall-hung mirrors and a neutral knotted carpet keep the look light.
Farrow & Ball
Similar dining set
The Old Cinema
A plump, upholstered bed makes a cosy focal point in the master bedroom, while splashes of red are used to add extra warmth. Patterned throws and cushions add comfort in this calming, neutral space, while the tweed upholstery provides an interesting twist on the traditional style of the sleigh bed.
Mulberry Home at GP&J Barker
Crate & Barrel
Here, as in other rooms in the house, kilims and other ethnic-style rugs are used to bring drama to the floors. Warming elements play a big part in this room, with its cool-coloured walls and woodwork; a rich red-hued leather armchair, an open fireplace and tropical artwork on the mantelpiece combine to create a welcoming space.
Farrow & Ball
A striking rug complements the French-style bed, with its carved wood detailing and textural upholstered head- and foot-boards. Any visiting guests will be as comfortable in this house as the owners themselves.
'The house has evolved over time and is constantly changing,' they say. 'Inside and out it was definitely worth all the hard work. We love how it now suits our family life perfectly, although there are times when we wish the doors were a little higher!'