A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

So­phie and Nick Clarkin swapped bustling city life for a cen­turies-old coun­try farm­house – and have never looked back

25 Beautiful Homes - - NEWS - Fea­ture Felic­ity Hayles | Pho­tog­ra­phy Fiona Mur­ray

Bold tex­tiles, beau­ti­ful oil paint­ings and time­less an­tique fur­nish­ings per­fectly com­ple­ment this pe­riod farm­house in Berk­shire

a breath of fresh air

The sight of this beau­ti­ful Tu­dor farm­house, nes­tled in peace­ful Berk­shire coun­try­side, con­jures up ro­man­tic no­tions of the per­fect ru­ral life. And for So­phie and Nick Clarkin, that vi­sion is not far from re­al­ity.

Af­ter seven years liv­ing in their Vic­to­rian ter­raced house in Bat­tersea, the cou­ple de­cided to swap their busy Lon­don lifestyle for a more bu­colic ex­is­tence, where they could raise a fam­ily, which now in­cludes Fred­die, 6, and Con­stance, 3, and be near Nick’s chil­dren from his pre­vi­ous mar­riage. Nick, the owner of a re­cruit­ment com­pany, and So­phie, an en­tre­pre­neur and owner of scented can­dle com­pany The Bird Box, have am­ple room here to also run their busi­nesses from home. ‘ We knew noth­ing about the area and had seen a few prop­er­ties, but as I walked over the thresh­old of this house I was hit by this strange feel­ing that I knew it was where we were go­ing to live,’ re­calls So­phie.

Al­though the Clarkins could see that there was a great deal to be done, they snapped up the prop­erty in 2008, and work be­gan. Over the next 12 months the house was rewired and re­plas­tered, and false ceil­ings were ripped out to re­veal the vaulted orig­i­nals. ‘ We felt that with so many beams, the house needed light­en­ing up,’ says So­phie. So the cou­ple stripped off the bold 1960s wall­pa­per and painted the walls in Laura Ash­ley’s Creamware and muted Far­row & Ball paint tones for a fresher feel.

Af­ter a year spent trav­el­ling, in 2010, So­phie and Nick fi­nally moved in. It was then that they could add their own spe­cial per­sonal touches to the house and be­gin to

set­tle into fam­ily life. Fred­die was born that year, and Con­stance three years later.

So­phie knew that her love of tex­tiles would pro­vide the nec­es­sary in­jec­tion of colour, while Nick’s col­lec­tions of an­tique oil paint­ings would add per­son­al­ity. Both the sit­ting room and fam­ily room have large tra­di­tional so­fas. Each is laden with feather cush­ions cov­ered in neu­tral linens and sub­tle silks, punc­tu­ated with the oc­ca­sional vi­brant botan­i­cal print to echo the sprawl­ing wood­land and mead­ows bor­der­ing the na­ture re­serve lake out­side. Some of the fab­rics were bought on a trip to Thai­land, where So­phie dis­cov­ered Jim Thomp­son’s col­lec­tions of au­then­tic Thai silks. She couldn’t re­sist bring­ing some home with her. ‘I got many of the cush­ions made by hand, as find­ing my own fab­rics is a real plea­sure,’ she ex­plains.

Much of the fur­ni­ture was sourced by the cou­ple from Lots Road Auc­tions in Chelsea. Nick ad­mits that he has a pen­chant for auc­tion houses, point­ing to a pair of Win­ston Churchill’s rid­ing boots stand­ing by the open fire, which he ac­quired at one. It is these un­usual touches that have turned this his­toric house into a unique and colour­ful sanc­tu­ary. ‘ We like to think that we’ve im­bued it with our in­di­vid­ual style and sur­rounded our­selves with pieces we love,’ re­flects So­phie. ‘Af­ter all, that’s the only way to turn a house into a real home.’

SIT­TING ROOM A sym­met­ri­cal sofa ar­range­ment and a roar­ing fire (next to Win­ston Churchill’s boots) make this a so­cia­ble space. the Duresta chelsea Vil­lage sofa, from £3,408, Fur­ni­ture Vil­lage, is sim­i­lar. Be­spoke cush­ions made with fab­rics from l in­te­ri­ors. Walls painted in creamware matt emul­sion, £35 per 2.5 litres, laura ash­ley, and lichen es­tate emul­sion, £ 43.50 per 2.5 litres, Far­row & Ball

KITCHEN-DINER With an Aga at its cen­tre, this cosy coun­try scheme is a great place for Nick, a keen chef, to en­ter­tain friends. Four-oven aga,from £11,645, aga ray­burn. try the lime­stone floor­ing at stone cir­cle, from £54sq m. Quer­cus rus­tic solid oak din­ing ta­ble, £600, oak Fur­ni­ture­land, is a good op­tion

GUEST BED­ROOM The head­board, cov­ered in one of So­phie’s vin­tage fab­ric finds, adds warmth and depth to the room. Oban mir­ror, £235, Oka. Walls painted in Lichen es­tate emul­sion, £ 43.50 per 2.5 litres, Far­row & Ball

GUEST EN SUITE ‘I adore bold colours, es­pe­cially darker tones as they can cre­ate a re­ally dra­matic look,’ says So­phie. Walls painted in Hague Blue es­tate emul­sion, £ 43.50 per 2.5 litres, Far­row & Ball. For a bath like this one, try the Spey with claw feet, £2,975, Drum­monds

CON­STANCE’S ROOM Bright splashes of pink and pretty fur­nish­ings com­ple­ment this rus­tic set­ting. Try Dragons of Wal­ton Street for chil­dren’s chests of draw­ers. Anna Drop­side cot, £130, John Lewis

FRED­DIE’S BED­ROOM To save space, Fred­die’s bed nes­tles neatly un­der a stair­case lead­ing up to a mez­za­nine floor.

MASTER BED­ROOM Cup­boards made from re­claimed oak pan­els cre­ate a seam­less look. Cromwell chan­de­lier, £337, The Light­ing Com­pany

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