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January 27 2015 Latest news:
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Once a Victorian stable block, the Stockley's lakeside house near Malvern has been transformed into a beautiful, rustic home.
Something out of a fairytale
Once a Victorian stable block, the Stockleys lakeside house near Malvern has been transformed into a beautiful, rustic home.
Linda and Mark Stockley were enchanted when they found charming Lake House near Malvern. Although the town was not far away the location made them feel they were deep in the countryside.
The house, formerly an early Victorian stable block to a nearby mansion, stood in beautiful grounds surrounded by trees.
Just beyond our house was a small lake alive with ducks and moorhens and giant carp, says Linda, who runs a babywear shop in Ledbury. It even had its own little bridge and a rowing boat and it was all very quiet, as though miles from anywhere.
However, the Grade II listed house was less inviting as it had been rented out for years and had been very much neglected. There were purple carpets and orange walls in both the sitting room and the main bedroom and underneath the purple carpet downstairs was cheap laminate flooring, says Linda. The kitchen was a dated Ikea, the bathroom was truly grubby and the general effect was dark and dingy.
However, it had some charming olde worlde features, particularly the oak beams everywhere, both vertical and horizontal (and even some diagonal), and exposed rosy old brickwork. Mark and Linda felt they could definitely make something of it.
We did much of the work ourselves as luckily my husband is very much a DIY man, says Linda. But first we had mains gas laid and installed gas central heating and a new Worcester boiler. Then Mark began by gutting the house which included stripping out both the main kitchen and a second mini-kitchen (now our breakfast room). He also did some replastering, laid all the new flooring downstairs which consisted of new French oak floorboards in the sitting room and new stone tiles in the kitchen and its three little adjoining rooms which have since become our breakfast room, cloakroom/ utility room and a study.
He also plumbed in the washing machine, sanded the floors upstairs and redecorated. but this house was hard work as at the same time we were bringing up our four children, running our own businesses and renovating three other smaller properties which came with the house.
It took six months in all but fortunately the family could live in their little flat above Lindas shop in Ledbury.
We didnt do anything structural as the house is listed but we did take out a horrible shower from what is now the cloakroom/utility room and put in a loo and basin, says Linda.
Linda redesigned the layout of the kitchen then put in new handmade units from deVol painted in Pigeon by Farrow and Ball; they cleaned both the chimneys and replaced the broken Rayburn with a new gas-fuelled Aga.
As for the unattractive pot-bellied stove in the sitting room it had to go after it billowed smoke out over everything so we put a new Charnwood log burner in its place, says Linda.
Finally they were able to decorate and used either Fired Earth or Farrow and Ball colours. We wanted soothing neutral shades which are peaceful to look at, says Linda. Our cottage could have looked dark as it is old with typical smallish windows and is surrounded by trees. So we decidedto paint the house in as many lightand muted soft tones as possible and chose subtle shades such as blue-greys, green-blues, grey-browns and creams. They reflect the colours outside in the grounds and Ive been told the effect is quite magical.
They painted both walls and woodwork including some of the newer beams put in at the time of its conversion some years before they arrived but they left the original oak beams in their natural state.
Then Linda also hunted auction houses and reclamation yards for old furniture which had a nice shape that could then be brought to life by being painted or recovered with soft linen fabrics. For instance, their settle is from a Ledbury auction which Linda painted in French Grey by Farrow & Ball, while their oval coffee table is made up from old floorboards.
At last the couple could move in with Lily (17) the youngest of their four grown-up children plus their Jack Russell Harry.
The nicest thing anyone has ever said about our house is that its so
pretty it looks like something out of a fairytale with a lovely tranquil atmosphere, says Linda. It nestles among the trees beside the lake and is unique as far as its setting goes.
LOCAL CONTACT BOOK
Whitecross Farm, Bridstow,
near Ross on Wye HR9 6JU.
Tel: 01989 563015;
Tel: 01989 567756;
38 Jubilee Drive,
Loughborough LE11 5XS.
Tel: 01509 261000
Unit 1, Wonastow Industrial Estate East, Monmouth, NP25 5JB.
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Eastnor HR8 1EL.
Tel: 01531 632718
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Hereford HR1 2PR.
Tel: 01432 376810