The 19th-century stone farmhouse is set a short distance from the Jurassic coast, within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and with unspoilt views of the rolling Dorset countryside in South West England.
The property had been in the same family for more than 60 years and was in desperate need of love and attention. But with its adjoining barn and series of dilapidated outhouses, plus 16 acres of wild gardens and meadows, it was a project that needed heart and soul.
‘We both have a passion for interior design and wanted to modernize the property in a way that bridged the gap between contemporary and traditional living,' says owner Alice Cobon. Converting the barn was high on their list.
'We quickly earmarked the large, adjoining barn as the new kitchen/living area, and drew up plans to maximize the space upstairs by reconfiguring the warren of small rooms connected by a narrow winding corridor.
'Restoring period character back into the property was also top of the list. With London as our main base and a trusted team of builders on site, we were able to jump into a full renovation without worrying about the impact on our everyday lives.’
Over the following six months the farmhouse was transformed. A mezzanine level was knocked out in the barn, revealing the beautiful, vaulted ceiling (see above in the kitchen), while full-height doors and new windows flood the space with light.
‘Alice and I both love to cook, so it seemed fitting that the biggest and brightest room would be the kitchen,’ Matt says.
A glazed side addition was built, connecting the barn to the main house and outside space, with a hidden pocket door linking through to the snug (below).
‘The rest of the downstairs layout stayed the same, but we worked hard to restore the original features, including the inglenooks and flagstone flooring that had been painted over or covered up.
'The three reception rooms are all cozy spaces without a huge amount of natural light, so we embraced the darkness by decorating and furnishing them in rich, opulent colors and textures.’
The living room (above) comes into its own as the nights draw in. ‘We wanted the room to have a speakeasy feel, so opted for dark painted walls with maximalist décor and furnishings,’ says Alice.
Upstairs, four rooms were knocked into one to create a primary bedroom with stunning views, and an ensuite, where a large copper bath now resides. There are also three more bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Now a family of four, the Cobons have continued to develop the house over the years, but with more of a family focus. The old kitchen is now a playroom and in the gardens you’ll find a play area, a big Mediterranean seating area and an outdoor kitchen complete with a pizza oven.
‘Our home is comfortable and stylish in equal measure. Breathing life back into its walls has been such an enjoyable and creative process,’ says Alice.
Find the farmhouse on Airbnb at Reinventing the Farm.
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Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.
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