Country Homes & Interiors - - MODERN COUNTRY -

Hav­ing re­built their derelict farm­house, the own­ers of this el­e­gant prop­erty have given it a pro­nounced French ac­cent

Few peo­ple would be brave enough to buy a house that was derelict – es­pe­cially one that had a tree grow­ing in the mid­dle of it – and then en­deav­our to trans­form it into their dream home. But Jo Stokes had a vi­sion and a builder – Gra­ham – for a hus­band.

At the time, Jo, Gra­ham and their daugh­ters, Char­lotte and Har­ri­ette, were liv­ing in a con­verted barn in a nearby vil­lage. ‘We wanted some­thing big­ger with land,’ says Jo. A friend told them about a farm­house that was up for sale through auction. ‘Gra­ham snuck into the grounds to take a look! The farm­house hadn’t been lived in for 40 years. The lady who had lived there be­fore that had only in­hab­ited the din­ing room, so the rest of the house hadn’t been lived in for 50 or 60 years. Ev­ery­thing was unloved, but there was plenty of land and we could see the po­ten­tial.’

Jo and Gra­ham re­alised that the house would need a huge amount of work, but they weren’t afraid to take on a big project. They lived in a car­a­van on site for two years while the work was done as Gra­ham could only work on the house in the evenings and at week­ends. It had to be gut­ted as it was in such a state. The bed­rooms up­stairs were home to lo­cal wildlife and the stair­case had col­lapsed.

‘The in­te­rior of the house was ex­posed to the el­e­ments and was dangerous so we had to be care­ful walk­ing

‘It’s full of peo­ple all the time and that makes it a very warm, so­cia­ble space’ What makes this house a home…

around it. In fact, Gra­ham had to pin parts of it up with scaf­fold­ing to make sure it was safe.’

As well as a new roof, the house was rewired and heat­ing and plumb­ing in­stalled. New win­dows were hand­made by Gra­ham’s father. ‘All the fam­ily would come and help,’ says Jo. ‘Un­til the stair­case was made, we used lad­ders to get up­stairs.’ Even when they moved in af­ter two years, work con­tin­ued, in­clud­ing adding a kitchen and bath­rooms.

When it even­tu­ally came to the in­te­ri­ors, Jo knew the look she wanted. ‘I love France and wanted the style of the in­te­rior to be French,’ she says. ‘I like neutral colours as they al­low rooms to flow, and with a neutral scheme you can eas­ily change the cush­ions and cur­tains to freshen things.’ Jo also has a pas­sion for painted fur­ni­ture. ‘I’ve bought things from France, char­ity shops and car-boot sales, then painted them us­ing An­nie Sloan paint – you don’t need to do any prepa­ra­tion, which is great as I’m al­ways busy!’

Paint­ing fur­ni­ture in­spired Jo to set up her own shop. ‘I love paint­ing and have painted most of the fur­ni­ture in my house, so a cou­ple of years ago I opened Jojo’s In­te­ri­ors sell­ing home­wares and An­nie Sloan paint, and run­ning courses that teach peo­ple how to paint.’

All the hard work on the house has cer­tainly paid off.

‘It’s lovely here. You can hear the birds sing­ing and it’s fan­tas­tic to see the sheep and cat­tle. The place is idyl­lic.’


‘I love France and am de­lighted with the re­laxed French style that has evolved nat­u­rally as I got a feel for our home’ What I love most about liv­ing here…

Hall­way A soft grey damask wall­pa­per and a painted clock cre­ate a sooth­ing scheme. Wall­pa­per, Laura Ash­ley. Clock, sim­i­lar from Jojo’s In­te­ri­ors. Guest bed­room Jo has cre­ated a pretty room for vis­i­tors un­der the eaves. The chaise longue is an an­tique...

Kitchen The vaulted ceil­ing al­lowed Jo to add a state­ment chan­de­lier. The floor­ing is In­dian slate. Chan­de­lier, clock, Jo­joõs In­te­ri­ors. Ta­ble and chairs, sim­i­lar from Farm­house Ta­ble Com­pany. Painted in Coun­try Grey by An­nie Sloan.

Liv­ing room The neu­tral pal­ette is punc­tu­ated with pale pink and heather ac­cents. Wall­pa­per, rug, Laura Ash­ley. So­fas, Sofa Gallery. Cup­board, made by a lo­cal car­pen­ter. Mir­ror, chair, Jo­joõs In­te­ri­ors.

House The 400-year-old red-brick farm­house is set in pic­turesque Stafford­shire coun­try­side. Win­dows, painted in Old White; doors, painted in Pi­geon, both Far­row & Ball.

Main bed­room The pièce de ré­sis­tance is the el­e­gant an­tique French bed. The dress­ing ta­ble was made by a lo­cal car­pen­ter. Quilt, bed­li­nen, Dorma. Wall­pa­per, rug, Laura Ash­ley. Ta­ble, mir­ror, Jojo’s In­te­ri­ors. Cur­tain fabric, Terry’s Fab­rics.

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