Landscape gardener Sarah Walsh and nature conservationist Bob Walsh decided to relocate from the bustle of London to the tranquility of the countryside, to be nearer to Sarahs father. They were daunted at the prospect of renovating an untouched 17th-century farmhouse, but rose to the challenge. Click through our gallery to see inside their home and find out how they got along with the renovation...
Both Sarah and Bob wanted the original natural textures of the farmhouse to take centre stage in every room. The beautiful old flagstones, wide oak floorboards and the rough stone lintel above the cooker sing out against the muted whites that Sarah has chosen throughout the house. With the exception of the snug, cluttered kitchen, all the rooms are simply and minimally furnished in toning hues.
Bob and Sarah were both keen to keep the character of the house intact. We wanted to use traditional materials and change as little as possible, Bob explains.
For six years we were doing things like re-pointing walls, digging up flagstones, taking off plaster and rebuilding crumbling walls. All useful but the farmhouse was still uninhabitable, Sarah says.
Bob replaced all the rotting wood, including the A-frame supporting the bedroom ceiling, and scoured reclamation yards to find original doors and flagstones to replace the ones that couldnt be saved.
Sarah put 11 coats of limewash on the sitting room walls, damping down with water each time before applying the next coat. This allows the walls to breathe and stops damp coming through, she explains. Then I added a diluted amount of the colour I wanted to the last coat. The 18th-century mantelpiece in the sitting room is listed, so special attention had to be paid when scraping off the many layers of black tar paint, and the granite uprights supporting it had to be sandblasted in order to clean them.
Most pieces of furniture have been bought inexpensively, found in skips or given as presents by friends, such as the woodburning stove in the sitting room. The only expensive item was the Esse cooker.
With the exception of the snug, cluttered kitchen, all the rooms are simply and minimally furnished in toning hues.
The careful selection of interior styling has given this farmhouse an illuminating makeover, creating a stylish yet homely space for both Sarah and Bob to enjoy and relax in.
It has taken years, but Bob and Sarah have created an individual home that has been worth all the hard work and effort. Not that theyve given themselves much time to sit back and rest. They are now planning to plant an orchard on the land at the back of the house another long-term project for the couple to relish.
Follow Sarahs life in the countryside by visiting her blog at thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com