Take a look inside this fairytale Cotswold home
PUBLISHED: 14:56 12 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:10 19 May 2016
Sixteen years ago, a young couple drove along a remote country track to discover their Cotswold fairytale home, with its 23 acres of wild countryside, lying at the end
Back in the 1970s Lyn and Jeremy le Grice rescued a Grade 2 listed 16th-century barn near Stow-on-the-Wold and converted it into their home. Lyn is well-known as a stencillist and interior designer, and subsequent owners found examples of her colourful stenciling in many of the rooms.
Then, some 16 years ago young couple Deirdre and Henry Boyle drove down the steep track leading to the barn and loved it on sight. “Despite the dreary weather we were delighted; Henry because it came with 23 acres of wild countryside and he loves wildlife, and me because it was obviously big enough for the parties I love to hold,” says Deirdre.
The Boyles were living in a small cottage nearby and needed somewhere bigger for their family of three small daughters. “This had five bedrooms and three bathrooms, and the 23 acres included three lakes, several springs, a boat house, a tree house, tennis courts, two terraces and a barbecue area,” says Deirdre. “Perfect for our girls Danielle, Lucy and Maddie. And then for Cordelia who came along soon afterwards.”
Just two weeks after the new millennium the couple bought the barn and at first did not feel they needed to change very much.
“The next family to live here after the Le Grices had built on an extension and invested in good-quality fittings such as the beautiful joinery in the library area, as well as building the boat house, tennis courts and so on,” says Deirdre. “We kept most of the curtains the previous owners left behind too and some of their furniture.”
Over the years, however, the Boyles repainted the dark green Mark Wilkinson kitchen cabinets in Little Greene’s creamy Travertine, enlarged a tiny kitchen window and put in new Argon-filled double glazing throughout plus some new hardwood frames. The previous owners had taken away the pan rack above the island so Deirdre asked Mark Wilkinson to make her another at a much lower price than normal. “Just as I hung it up the previous owners offered us back the old one!” she says.
“We also upgraded the plumbing, insulated the ceilings and put in a brand new bathroom for the children,” she continues. “We put in two new wood burners to assist the oil-fuelled central heating, and two new Velux skylights on the children’s landing. Then we fitted them and three other skylights with solar-powered blinds.”
The couple also obtained planning permission to create a little study area within the eaves, fitted with a light shaft to bring the sun in.
“As the existing front door was a rather ordinary ledge-and-brace affair which didn’t suit the house, I went to Cox’s reclamation yard at Moreton-in-Marsh in search of another,” says Deirdre. “There I found an oak and glazed door which amazingly fitted like a dream. Then we painted the exterior woodwork in Ball Green by Farrow & Ball.”
Part of the extension put in by the previous owners included a woodshed, and the Boyles turned it into a self-contained annexe, installing underfloor heating, folding doors to separate a rather big room, and a small kitchen made by a joiner. The couple are keen on recycling, and the marble worktops came, via a reclamation yard, from the cladding of the bombed Nat West building in the City.
“However, once we’d paid for them to be cut to size at Granite Planet it would have been cheaper to buy them new!” says Deirdre. “It’s the sort of place where the girls can play on their drum kits as loudly as possible and thankfully the neighbours would never know.”
Finally, the couple insulated and decorated a little one-storey bullpen in the garden for Deirdre’s study. The biggest improvement here came from the spotlights which added a sense of depth and interest. “Good lighting can make any space seem less utilitarian,” she says.
When it came to furnishing the place Deirdre went to a lot of trouble finding the right items. “I recommend buying the best quality you can afford, and often the way to do that is by going to auctions,” she says. “That is how I bought my six beautiful antique rugs from Christie’s.”
It was on a trip to Paris that Deirdre found the perfect tapestry for her sitting room. But to be sure it would look right, first she photographed it then projected the image onto the wall. “It looked wonderful so then I had cushions made with colours to match the tapestry,” she says.
She also spent a long time looking for the right paint for the walls and found Oak II by The Paint and Paper Library to be the perfect shade to go between the old oak beams and enhance the honey-coloured Cotswold stone.
“Part of the name of our village means rushing waters,” says Deirdre. “At one time the Windrush did indeed rush along, which is why there were so many mills here. Now, however, the river doesn’t race along but that hasn’t stopped a local team from planning a scheme to harness hydroelectric power from the old millrace with the intention of running it on a communal basis. The whole village is keen, as we are all very ecologically-minded round here – as anyone would be in such a beautiful setting which the Romans loved.”
However, now their daughters have grown up the Boyles are planning to move on and their beautiful country home is up for sale.
For more information and to arrange a viewing, contact Butler Sherborn, Stow-on-the-Wold, on 01451 830731.
Cox’s Yard, 01608 652505, coxsarchitectural.co.uk
Cotswold Restoration Service, 01242 604403
Monroe Collection, Kichler Lighting, kichler.com
Nestor Martin, 01706 813393, bowlandsstoves.co.uk
Paint Library, 020 7823 7755, www.paint-library.co.uk
Prestbury Upholstery, 01242 210200, www.prestburyupholstery.com
The Fountayne Interiors, 07791 081691, www.thefountayne.com
The Old Pill Factory, 01993 701013, www.theoldpillfactory.com