JO STOKES’ RENOVATION OF A DERELICT FARMHOUSE HAS CREATED A HOME WITH MORE THAN A HINT OF GALLIC STYLE
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.’
JOJO’S INTERIORS, STONE CROSS, PENKRIDGE, STAFFORDSHIRE ST19 5AS, 01785 711101, JOJOSINTERIORS.CO.UK.
‘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…
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.
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.
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.
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 find. Bed, Seventh Heaven.
Cushions, Jojo’s Interiors and Next.
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.