OXFORDSHIRE VIL­LAGE HOUSE

Two pe­riod cot­tages were com­bined to cre­ate an open-plan and sur­pris­ingly mod­ern in­te­rior

Country Homes & Interiors - - CONTENTS - ☎ CHAM­BER FUR­NI­TURE, 01959 532553, CHAMBERFURNITURE.CO.UK.

Vil­lage

life in the Cotswolds def­i­nitely suits He­len Spencer and her hus­band Richard – so much so that when they moved to their for­ever home, they not only stayed in the same vil­lage, they re­mained in the same street and lit­er­ally moved next door.

‘We love the vil­lage we live in,’ says He­len. ‘Our lo­ca­tion is great for the shops and pubs, yet Lon­don is just over an hour’s drive. Richard is from this vil­lage and his grand­fa­ther used to live along the street. His grand­fa­ther was a stone­ma­son and there are lots of mem­o­ries of him in the vil­lage. I used to come to the vil­lage, too, as a child be­cause there was an ice cream par­lour here. When both cot­tages next door to where we were liv­ing came up for sale, it was too good an op­por­tu­nity to miss.’

The sale con­sisted of two sep­a­rate prop­er­ties, along with a barn, that had been owned by an old man who lived in one half. ‘Richard re­mem­bers watch­ing the Queen’s corona­tion in the left­hand cot­tage as it had the only TV in the street!’

He­len and Richard weren’t plan­ning to live in ei­ther of the houses. ‘We were orig­i­nally go­ing to de­velop the build­ings to turn them into three dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties and sell them all, but then I be­came preg­nant with twins and we re­alised we would need more space, so we de­cided to ren­o­vate the cot­tages into one prop­erty and live there our­selves.’

The cou­ple knew ex­ten­sive work would need to be done to cre­ate their dream home, but for­tu­nately Richard runs a

What makes this house a homeé ‘The lay­out around the court­yard creates a homely at­mos­phere and is great for par­ties, too!’

What we love most about liv­ing here... ‘We have large win­dows so it is very light, and it’s great be­ing able to see across the court­yard into each room’

build­ing com­pany so was well placed to do the ren­o­va­tion. The fam­ily moved in, liv­ing in the left-hand prop­erty, which was more mod­ern and had cen­tral heating. ‘The other side, which is older, had mud floors, re­ally low ceil­ings and no heating so needed a lot of work do­ing to it,’ says He­len.

The first ma­jor struc­tural work tack­led was adding a kitchen ex­ten­sion. ‘It was a long rec­tan­gu­lar struc­ture orig­i­nally and we wanted to make it into a U-shape sur­round­ing a court­yard by build­ing on each side,’ says He­len. A green oak-framed din­ing room ex­ten­sion with vaulted ceil­ing, plus a util­ity room, were added to the kitchen.

The di­vid­ing wall be­tween the two cot­tages was taken down to cre­ate a large cen­tral liv­ing room. ‘It would have been poky oth­er­wise,’ says He­len, ‘but it took four men a week to take down the thick di­vid­ing wall. Richard then used all the stone to build a pool house across the court­yard from the kitchen.’

At the same time, the stair­case from the left-hand house was re­moved and a new one de­signed to re­place the right hand one, lo­cated cen­trally in the joined-up prop­erty. The cir­cu­lar oak frame was made in Wales and curved win­dows were fit­ted in the wall above to com­ple­ment it. Next, one of the two front doors was re­moved and filled in and a pretty porch added to the other, with wis­te­ria now con­tribut­ing to the pic­turesque ex­te­rior.

Two years ago the Spencers in­stalled a new kitchen. ‘The kitchen was quaint and fussy be­fore, so I wanted to move

for­ward and cre­ate some­thing more con­tem­po­rary,’ says He­len. They chose a de­sign from Cham­ber Fur­ni­ture. ‘They were ab­so­lutely amaz­ing and a plea­sure to deal with, and they paid great at­ten­tion to de­tail.’

More re­cently, He­len has re­dec­o­rated the house through­out. ‘Orig­i­nally when we ren­o­vated the house, the decor was quite French in style, but as time went on we wanted to change it. I wanted ev­ery­thing clean and sim­ple so that it was easy to look af­ter.’ In keep­ing with the con­tem­po­rary, pared-back feel of the kitchen, the in­te­rior has a mod­ern coun­try look with a hint of Scandi. ‘I love sim­ple pieces and lots of tex­ture and lay­er­ing – I’ve used dif­fer­ent tex­tured rugs in the liv­ing room, for ex­am­ple,’ says He­len. ‘I like the house to look cosy and wel­com­ing.’

Although the house is old, it now fea­tures plenty of mod cons, such as un­der­floor heating and a Rako light­ing sys­tem, which make it ideal for 21st-cen­tury mod­ern coun­try liv­ing.

‘The house in­volved a lot of hard work, but it’s great to come home and re­lax here,’ says He­len. ‘I love the U-shape with the court­yard in the cen­tre – I can be in the kitchen and see the kids in the swim­ming pool or see through to the liv­ing room.

‘The house is so light and airy – it’s de­cep­tive from the front as it has the ap­pear­ance of a pe­riod cot­tage, but it looks like a dif­fer­ent build­ing from the back. I just love be­ing at home.’

Liv­ing room The con­tem­po­rary feel is achieved with state­ment pieces and lay­ered rugs.Gold ta­ble, Heal’s. Geo­met­ric ta­ble, Atkin & Thyme. Tresse rug, Green Decore. Ice­landic sheep­skin rug, Hide Rugs.

Kitchen He­len has cre­ated a mod­ern look with clean lines. Tex­ture plays its part with wooden units and log stools, topped with sheep­skin cov­ers He­len made her­self. Be­spoke units and work­tops, Cham­ber Fur­ni­ture. Floor­ing,Stone & Wood Tiles.

Din­ing area A vaulted ceil­ing and stained-glass win­dow cre­ate the wow fac­tor, while vintage cin­ema chairs add a quirky touch. Ta­ble and chairs, Titch­marsh & Good­win. Cin­ema seats,The Old Flight House.

Bath­room The neu­tral scheme fea­tures an over­sized bath. Bath, Bath­rooms In­ter­na­tional. Tiles, Fired Earth. Walls, painted in Shaded White byFar­row & Ball.

Main bed­room Aquas and greys mix in this el­e­gant space. Quilt, blan­ket and cush­ions, Zara Home and Oliver Bonas. Pen­dant light, Lib­erty.

The curv­ing stair­case was made in Wales from oak. Run­ner, The Car­pet & Floor­ing Com­pany. Cop­per pen­dant light, The French House.

Pool house The A-framed space is a beau­ti­ful place for swim­ming all year round. Wicker chair, Wye­vale Gar­den Cen­tres.

Court­yard The U-shaped house sur­rounds a pretty court­yard.Gar­den fur­ni­ture,Posh Gar­den Fur­ni­ture.

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