OUT OF THE ASHES

Hav­ing been badly dam­aged by fire, a Not­ting­hamshire farm­house has now been lov­ingly re­stored

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - FEA­TURE ANNA TOBIN | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY RACHAEL SMITH

Clau­dia Al­witry, a GP and aes­thetic prac­ti­tioner, was on her way to visit a pa­tient when she spot­ted a For Sale sign in front of a for­mer farm­house. She made an ap­point­ment to view it with her hus­band, Amar, an eye sur­geon, and they were sold on it even be­fore they had a chance to have a proper look around. ‘It was a lovely sunny day and the own­ers were sit­ting in the gar­den, drink­ing Pimms,’ re­calls Clau­dia. ‘It looked so idyl­lic, I knew there and then it was for us.’

Although the in­te­rior of the house had al­tered dra­mat­i­cally since the days when it was a farm­house in the mid­dle of a dairy farm, it wasn’t to the cou­ple’s taste. ‘There were net cur­tains on ev­ery win­dow, which meant that you couldn’t see the won­der­ful view. It was very Eight­ies,’ ex­plains Clau­dia.

Money was tight when they first moved in as Amar was still a ju­nior doc­tor and Clau­dia had not been a prac­tis­ing GP for long. To keep within bud­get, they took on some of the work. ‘Amar even retiled the whole ground floor him­self,’ says Clau­dia.

Their el­dest child, Max, now 12, was born a year af­ter they moved in, fol­lowed by Toby, 10, Os­car, eight, and Safia, six. There is also Woodie and Win­nie the cock­apoos and cats Ber­tie, Boots and Wil­bur.

To ac­com­mo­date their grow­ing brood, Clau­dia and Amar ex­tended the house in 2009 to cre­ate five bed­rooms, but in 2011, dis­as­ter struck. An elec­tri­cal fault in a fridge in the in­ter­nal garage caused a dev­as­tat­ing fire. ‘We had a car with a full tank in the garage and it ex­ploded,’ says Clau­dia. ‘Thank­fully, no one was hurt, but the whole of the left side of the house was burnt out and the rest of the house had smoke dam­age.’

The fam­ily were happy with their home be­fore the fire, but as the en­tire house had

LES­SON LEARNT ‘I rec­om­mend put­ting things in stor­age if you’re build­ing a large ex­ten­sion. We didn’t and it was so up­set­ting when some of our things got bro­ken’

to be re­stored, it was an op­por­tu­nity to change a few things for the bet­ter. ‘I didn’t want the car to be in the house any more, so we turned the garage into a games room and added a sep­a­rate garage,’ ex­plains Clau­dia.

Then, in 2016, the cou­ple ex­tended the house again and turned what had pre­vi­ously been a con­ser­va­tory into the main sit­ting room and pushed the kitchen out into the gar­den. They also added a boot room and util­ity room down­stairs and two en-suite bed­rooms up­stairs.

‘I drew the plans up my­self, as I knew ex­actly what I wanted,’ says Clau­dia, ‘and to fi­nalise the draw­ings we em­ployed the same ar­chi­tect who had put the house back to­gether af­ter we had the fire.’

When it came to the in­te­rior de­sign, Clau­dia con­tin­ued the theme that she had be­gun pre­vi­ously. ‘I didn’t want the house to be a de­signer home that couldn’t be used,’ she says. ‘I wanted it to feel com­fort­able and wel­com­ing, and for the in­te­rior not to date. For ex­am­ple, I avoided a glossy han­dle­less kitchen, that might have showed ev­ery fin­ger print. With all our chil­dren and pets it had to be hard-wear­ing, prac­ti­cal, but also invit­ing. I had al­ways en­vi­sioned a big coun­try-style kitchen here and I of­ten drove past the de­vol show­room and knew that I wanted one of their de­signs. It was nice to be able to pop by and see it be­ing made.’

Even though the house is just as she wants it now, Clau­dia specif­i­cally opted for a back­drop of neu­tral walls so that the decor can be added to and tweaked. ‘I know I can eas­ily change cur­tains, cush­ions and ac­ces­sories when they get tired,’ she says. ‘There’s noth­ing we would al­ter about the over­all look and feel of our home, though. It’s beau­ti­ful, but live­able, too. We feel we have cre­ated a home for life.’

DE­SIGN TIP ‘Col­lect to­gether cut­tings of all the de­signs, colours and fab­rics you like in a folder that you can con­stantly draw upon when you need in­spi­ra­tion’

KITCHEN-DINER Clau­dia chose benches over chairs so as to ac­com­mo­date many more peo­ple around the farm­house-style kitchen ta­ble. Be­spoke hand­made bunting, price on ap­pli­ca­tion, from Seed Home De­signs. Benches, £ 400 each; ta­ble, £1,250 all Dove & Grey. Dresser, £2,410, de­vol

KITCHEN-DINER This room is large enough to ac­com­mo­date an over­sized is­land with a break­fast bar that the whole fam­ily can sit at to­gether. Deben pen­dant lights, £114 each, Jim Lawrence. Stars from £20, No­ton­the­high­street.com. The Cox & Cox weath­ered oak bar stool, £180, is a good match

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