There are some houses that might have been designed especially for Christmas. This family home is a case in point. On a brisk winter’s morning, you glimpse well-stoked fires and snoozing dogs through the stone mullioned windows and there is a deep porch for removing snow-dusted boots.
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Although it is only ten minutes from the heart of Bath, this mellow, Victorian rectory feels as tranquil as a country house. It is therefore surprising to learn that the homeowner’s never planned to move here. ‘We'd been happy living in a smaller townhouse in the centre of Bath, but one day I spotted this house online and decided to visit,’ says the owner. 'I knew this was where our family home should be. It felt right: the peace, the muntjac deer in the garden. It's a haven.’
Built in the 19th century, the house had later been divided into three flats. The couple started from scratch, turning it back into a convivial family home with six bedrooms and six bathrooms ranged over the three storeys, including a capacious, converted attic. For design help, the owner turned to her friend, interior designer Fiona Parke. 'Fiona pushes me out of my comfort zone without it being too much of a stretch. She works with your ideas but brings them together coherently.'
Seven months later, the house was transformed. At the top, a new staircase leads to the converted attic with games room. On the first floor, the requisite suite effect was achieved by turning three rooms into a walk-through wardrobe, bathroom and bedroom. Upstairs, the couple's daughters have pretty en-suite bathrooms; downstairs, there is an inviting family room and a shared study.
A real ottoman adds sumptuous colour, while mirrored inserts either side of the new fireplace amplify the sense of light and space.
This shared space capitalises on the views of the garden, which wraps around the house adding to the air of rural peace.
The bespoke cabinetry was designed to include contrasting finishes such as sliding glass doors and tongue-and-groove units, which conceal the kettle and coffee machine.
The house was redesigned include peaceful corners to relax read in. Here, original, tall windows fill the space with natural light.
A shapely but compact bath allowed spare in the design for a walk-in shower.
The master suite has a walk-in wardrobe that connects the bathroom to the bedroom, which overlooks the garden.
Photography/ Mark Bolton