Blossoming apple trees in front of a half-hidden house were what first intrigued Sarah Williamson-Jones, owner of floristry and homewares business Pod & Pip, and her husband David.
‘We were living nearby and often drove past, but it was difficult to get more than a glimpse of the actual property,’ Sarah says.
When they did stop to take a proper peek, they were so taken with the country house they wrote to the owners explaining that should the house ever be sold, they would be interested.
‘We got a letter back from a lady who explained her mother lived there, but if things changed, she would get in touch. Ten months later, that’s exactly what happened,’ says Sarah.
The family went along to view the property and the moment they entered, they were sold. ‘We had no doubt this was the family house we’d been looking for,’ says Sarah. ‘It just felt right.’
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But first, the family were vetted by the old lady herself, who was moving to a residential home after living in the house for almost 60 years.
‘She wanted to be sure we would love it just as much as she and her family had,’ recalls Sarah. ‘She was also a keen plantswoman, and when I told her that I too had a passion for flowers, we clicked.’
By the time the family moved in a few months’ later, ambitious plans were already in place, including a new wing, an expanded entrance hall, and a gentle re-configuration of the original layout to make it more practical and cohesive.
‘Everywhere needed a complete overhaul – from new windows to wiring, heating and plumbing, and of course, the décor. That essentially meant living on a building site for several months, but we decided to tough it out!’
That proved to be an understatement when, in the winter of 2018, the Beast from East brought blizzards and freezing temperatures.
‘We basically set up camp in the existing kitchen and the only heat came from the trusty old Aga.’
As the months went by, the new bones of the house started to take shape.
The main thrust of the work was a brand new wing in contrasting flint stone for an expansive kitchen and living space, with a generous master suite above.
Running the entire length of the new wing’s ground floor, the kitchen includes a separate walk-in larder and cooking space, dining and seating area. Bespoke Shaker-style cabinets are painted blue.
An informal seating area at the far end of the kitchen incorporates a woodburning stove to keep the whole room extra toasty during the winter months.
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Alongside the imposing new wing, the expanded entrance hall was given an extra dimension by simply removing an interior wall separating it from the oak-panelled dining room with its beautifully worn oak floorboards so it can be fully admired from the hallway.
‘The panelling is such a wonderful feature, we wanted it to be appreciated every day,’ says Sarah.
The pared-back scheme emphasises the room’s elegant proportions.
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This space – originally the kitchen in the main house – is a cosy retreat for all the family. Favorite old chairs have been reupholstered to complement the scheme.
Masculine oak furniture is tempered with vintage flower prints, a comfy wing chair and pretty floral cushion.
Located on the upper floor of the new wing, this space has a wonderfully indulgent feel, with a generous en suite and separate dressing room. Two feature walls have been papered in a classic William Morris design,
Placing a perfectly proportioned chaise longue from Laura Ashley directly beneath the window is a clever way to draw the eye to the leafy vista beyond.
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A muted palette creates a calming scheme.
An oversized mirror emphasises the space, with its statement roll-top bath.
A specially made double basin cabinet stores toiletries and essentials.
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When the work was completed, Sarah was able to turn her attention to the décor. ‘It had to be in tune with the original house, but with a few contemporary touches,’ she explains. ‘My aim was to make it feel calm and cohesive, with a few shots of pattern and colour to give it personality.’
This has been achieved with a subtle palette, classic patterns and tactile fabrics. A combination of antique finds, family heirlooms and treasured objects sits comfortably together, and Sarah has done her best to incorporate as many of the property’s original features as possible, from the old scullery sink, now in the utility room, to the servants’ bells in the hall.
'We wanted to create a home with a nod to the past and those who lived here before. It was important to honour that heritage.'
She and her family could not be more content. ‘We’ve put our own stamp on this house,’ she says, ‘but I think it has the same warm atmosphere we felt on the day we walked in. This is a happy house, and it’s a joy to live here.’
Find out more about Pod & Pip (opens in new tab).
Photographs/ Richard Gadsby
Text/ Sharon Parsons
Interiors have always been Vivienne's passion – from bold and bright to Scandi white. After studying at Leeds University, she worked at the Financial Times, before moving to Radio Times. She did an interior design course and then worked for Homes & Gardens, Country Living and House Beautiful. Vivienne’s always enjoyed reader homes and loves to spot a house she knows is perfect for a magazine (she has even knocked on the doors of houses with curb appeal!), so she became a houses editor, commissioning reader homes, writing features and styling and art directing photo shoots. She worked on Country Homes & Interiors for 15 years, before returning to Homes & Gardens as houses editor four years ago.
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