Worlds Best Homes

This 16th century British country house showcases traditional farmhouse style at its best

Full of rural charm and contemporary style, this country home ticks all our boxes

Oxfordshire country house exterior
(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

'I really couldn’t have created such a lovely interior without them both,' proclaims Liz Vallance of the charming Oxfordshire house that she and her family call home and that has been cleverly enhanced by the skills of her interior designer mum, Jean George, and furniture maker brother Robert George.  

Oxfordshire country house entrance hall

The large welcoming space has been decorated with neutral tones and natural-inspired accessories.  A curved console table and ornate carved chest of drawers sit well opposite each other. 

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

Keeping it in the family clearly made sense when it came to the design transformation of what was once a very modest 16th Century farmhouse into the sumptuous space it is today – a wonderful example of farmhouse decor ideas.  

Oxfordshire country house hallway

Exposed structural beams around the doorway into the living room add original charm and character.

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

'My mother runs an interior design business, Jean George Interiors, and she really was my sounding board at all stages; initially when it came to plans/layouts/spatial designs; and then further down the line when choosing colors, fabrics, and furniture,' says Liz.

Oxfordshire country house living room

Living room ideas include showing off beautiful original features such as wide beams, wooden floors and low ceilings in the original part of the farmhouse

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

Liz’s style is fortunately very similar to her mother’s, who clearly has an exacting eye for design. Liz reels off ideas she implemented, including the entire layout for the end living room. 

Oxfordshire country house sitting room

Liz’s mother Jean George designed lateral seating and chose a horizontal display of framed pictures to accentuate the room’s proportions to best effect.

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

'She sorted the wood burning stove positioning, the bespoke blue sofa, which needed to be large and take into account the post in the middle of the room,’ she explains. 

'And then she designed all the shelving in the TV and living room, as well as in the study, which was incredibly difficult as the aim was to hide the structural cruck frame posts but show symmetry at the same time. It was one of the hardest rooms to design.' 

Oxfordshire country house fireplace

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

Enter Liz’s brother Robert. 'Luckily he is a furniture maker and, aside from making me some lovely pieces, such as the whitewashed oak kitchen table and the antique walnut veneered console table in the drawing room, he built the shelving that my mother designed.'  

Oxfordshire country house kitchen

Farmhouse kitchen ideas include a bespoke kitchen by a local artisan furniture maker painted in a blue grey that works as a continuation of the blue tones used throughout the rest of the house

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

It is as much an essay on good family relations as anything else with every part of the interior lovingly designed to perfectly complement the property. But there was a great deal of renovation work to be done before the mother/brother duo could start. 

Oxfordshire country house study

This space is part of the original 16th century farmhouse with its large fireplace and supporting exposed wooden beam still remaining.

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

The family were originally living in London and reluctant to leave their high-ceilinged Victorian home, but looking to move to the countryside. 'It was a big change looking at properties in Oxfordshire – many are listed due to their age and come with wooden frames and low ceilings, which didn’t suit Tim being 6ft 3in. 

Oxfordshire country house detail

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

But this farmhouse had undergone enhancement during Edwardian times and again in the 1960s and 1980s, resulting in an unusual layout with better head height and the possibility of gaining planning permission to create an improved living space.

Oxfordshire country house dining room

Liz and Tim knocked down the 1960s and 1980s part of the house with its rabbit warren of corridors and single storey rooms and rebuilt a contemporary open plan kitchen and entertaining space with doors out onto the garden and swimming pool outside.

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

The couple contracted an architect who redesigned the house and managed to convince the planning department to allow doors onto the garden, re-render the whole of the property with lime render and replace all imitation lead windows with new wooden framed ones to allow more daylight in. 

Oxfordshire country house bedroom

The character of the original farmhouse is on full view with the stunning oak supporting framework exposed and complemented by the natural tones of the sisal carpet. A soft blue grey palette has been used to create a quiet aesthetic with a little warmth

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

Work started to remove the entire 1960s and 1980s part of the house and to create a larger kitchen/dining room overlooking the garden.

Oxfordshire country house bathroom

This pretty space under the eaves, with the structural beams on show, creates a charming and characterful bathroom. Natural textures and colours further enhance the architectural integrity of the room.

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

The result is a charming symbiosis of old and modern farmhouse style. Exposed beams, low ceilings and wonky wooden floors still depict a characterful old farmhouse, while the contemporary, light-filled addition provides a sense of space, height and immediate connection with the open skies and countryside outside. 

Oxfordshire country house exterior

A lime render on all the exterior walls seamlessly blends the new extension with the original part of the house.  Tim and Liz created the house to make sure the main frame/outlook was the garden as the previous kitchen and living area of the old house looked out over a small part of the garden parallel to the lane.  The planning permission allowed for the small diamond imitation leaded windows added during the 1960s to be replaced with wooden ones, which add charm and character. 

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

'What I love the most is the space and light and feeling of calm as well as the cosiness with lower ceilings and wooden beams. Also, how it is all connected and finished with the calm natural colours and blue palette throughout.’ And it does all work wonderfully together of course – as they say, mum knows best!

Words / Sara Emslie

Andrea Childs
Andrea Childs

I've been immersed in the world of homes, interiors and lifestyle since my first job in journalism, on Ideal Home. I went from women's magazine Options to Frank, a brand new title from the publishers of The Face and Arena. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where I stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. Two children and a move to the coast meant it was time to shift into freelancing, and I spent 14 exciting years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. When I was offered the job as Editor on Country Homes & Interiors, I couldn't resist – and now I combine that role with developing the H&G Country channel.