When they fell in love with a sixteenth-century property in Gloucestershire, Jeremy and Louise Brown had no idea how much work – and money – it would take to make a period farmhouse habitable. Was it worth the heartache?
An extension built with reclaimed stone houses the kitchen and is attached to the original building by a glazed link
Bespoke oak units in the kitchen are a perfect match for the exposed beams
Louise and Jeremy Brown’s original budget of £70,000 was never going to be enough to repair their large, longneglected, sixteenth-century farmhouse. The pair ended up spending more like £300,000 to turn the Gloucestershire house into their dream home. And it had already cost them £445,000 to buy. With the forced sale of the Browns’ Bristol flat, and the pair having to cash in their pensions, Kevin McCloud aptly described the couple’s finances as a ‘runaway train’.
Formerly the cheese room, the master bedroom has bespoke fitted wardrobes and stripped beams
Myriad complications surfaced as soon as building work began, when they discovered that the farmhouse’s dodgy structure made it too dangerous to live in. Kevin wanted them to scale down their grand plans but Jeremy stood firm. ‘If you’re going to do something, it’s worth doing well,’ he said.
Problems aside, there was little doubt that this building was worth saving. The previous owners had left most of it unused and untouched, with fixtures and fittings dating from the mid-sixteenth century. ‘We began to develop a real attachment to the house,’ says Jeremy. ‘It had been neglected for so long, it was as if we were helping it to wake up.’
The main bathroom has modern fittings including a freestanding bath and matching double washbasins
Louise and Jeremy had a glass lid made to cover the old well that is now in the new kitchen addition
The Browns’ commitment and their uncompromising attitude to all the financial headaches was justly rewarded. Traditional lime plaster on the walls, pleasingly wonky floors and a classy mix of antique and contemporary furnishings – as well as a great deal of blood, sweat and tears – have brought this much-loved house well and truly back to life.