A country cottage Christmas with all the trimmings
The holly, the ivy and a cosy log fire. This country cottage, near Malton, is the perfect house for Christmas. reports.
HOUSE hunting is all very well but sometimes homes find you and so it was for Jennie and Luke Johnson, who felt compelled to buy their cottage after a friend discovered it was for sale.
“We weren’t even looking for a house,” says Jennie, a personal trainer
“We were living in Malton and I was expecting my first baby. Moving wasn’t on the cards until a friend pointed out this house.”
The period property, on the Swinton Grange estate, needed total renovation but the location was everything they’d dreamed of. It was rural, in a hamlet, fronted by fields and just two miles from Malton.
“We took the plunge and bought it,” says Jennie, who was pregnant with Archie, who is now 10.
She took nesting to new heights and within four months the cottage had been rewired, re-plumbed, had new windows and a full damp course after they discovered the kitchen tiles were laid onto soil.
The property, which had a living kitchen and bathroom downstairs with three bedrooms upstairs, was reconfigured to give two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor with a sitting room, kitchen and utility room below.
Both Jennie and Luke, a landscape gardener who runs Ridgeway Services, were handson with the project.
“I remember feeding the baby while trying to hang wallpaper,” she says.
It looked beautiful, but after Billy, now eight, was born, followed by Martha, who is now four, the couple needed more space and extended the house, doubling its original size.
The extension was created from handmade bricks from the York Handmade Brick Company and the cottage now has a breakfast kitchen, sitting room, cloakroom, utility room, and a family room leading onto a garden roomdining room.
Upstairs, there is a master bedroom with en-suite shower room, two large bedrooms and a family bathroom.
Outside, there is a 100 ft long garden and Luke has created a patio with outside lighting, a parking area and a detached double garage, which has potential for a first-floor extension to provide extra accommodation.
“The house is perfect for us but we’ve decided to move because Luke would really like a small holding. He grew up on a farm and wants the children to have that as they grow up,” says Jennie.
At least they’ll have another Christmas at Fallowfield Cottage and it’s the perfect place to spend the festive season.
Jennie is keen on interior design and the house reflects her interest. The furniture is a mix of antiques, family hand me downs and junk shop finds mixed with some hand-made pieces.
The piano was Matt’s mother’s and the corner cupboard belonged to her great-great grandfather.
“I got the jug on top too and that is exactly how it used to be in his house. I love it that it evokes happy memories.
“We are lucky we have a creative family and friends and we have lots of lovely home-made pieces. My mum made us blinds, curtains and cushions. My friend Zoe made cushions, bunting and blankets. The blanket on the sofa was knitted by granny for Archie when he was born,” says Jennie, who loves decorating for Christmas.
The tree is trimmed with ribbons and baubles that have been collected over the years from craft stalls or made by the children and Luke carved the wooden reindeer.
“Billy was once a king in a school nativity play and that picture of him goes on top of the piano every Christmas and the fairy is one that Martha made at nursery.
“It’s all very traditional and personal and I love that,” says Jennie.
Fallowfield Cottage, Swinton, near Malton, is £320,000 with Boulton and Cooper Stephensons, tel: 01653 692151 www.boultoncooper. co.uk
AT HOME: The house has doubled in size since Jennie and Luke bought it and is now the perfect family home. Jennie, cuddled up with Martha, uses a mix of home-made and natural Christmas decorations.