Luxury Rural Retreat in Somerset

As featured in 25 Beautiful Homes Magazines September 2016

Marcelle and Nick Connor have created a luxury rural retreat/escape by converting the derelict coach house within the grounds of their 16th Century Farmhouse.

A 16th Century Coach House in Somerset
The Property: 16th Century Hamstone Farmhouse in South Somerset purchased in 2010


A picturesque setting


Favourite Room “ The bathroom with its luxury Double Nickel Slipper Bath – perfect for a relaxing soak after a day in the garden or picking apples in the orchards”

Luxurious double-ended nickel bath from Bateau Bath £5,400
Nick Connor designed, built and fitted the oak cabinetry himself.  Pendant Lights – Cox & Cox, Lancanche Range Cooker, £4,2500 John Lewis
Escape and relax in this hidden garden

Bath Stone window sills crafted locally at Ham Hill Quarry

Imported Moroccan Lime Stone Floors – Clifton, Bristol

Bespoke Oak mullion windows and doors – Wellington, Somerset

Restored sympathetically in keeping with the period of the property

Rough sawn floor boards, white washed to create “The Hamptons” feel

Design Advice : “When restoring an historic property make the most of local artisans and utilize locally sourced materials that are natural and of the highest quality”

“To match and reproduce the last remaining original structural beam we used a sawmill to cut the large chamfers required”


Marcelle and her husband loved their previous rural Devon home but a desire to enjoy village life led them to move to their idyllic and beautiful hamstone home.

On viewing the property they fell in love with the stunning location, gardens and orchards and were drawn to the potential offered for the conversion of the outbuildings to enhance the property. They also loved the proximity of several beautiful historic National Trust gardens and the Jurassic coast.

“We viewed it only once on the Tuesday and had our offer accepted on the Friday”. The Coach House was in a dilapidated state; housing an old oil tank, animal troughs and furniture from previous occupants who may have been grooms to the carriage horses stabled there.The ground floor was divided into three separate rooms, one being a tack room with original bridle hooks and saddle racks dating from the early 1900’s.

Inspiration/Vision:  To transform the Coach House into a fresh airy space Marcelle had a vision to replicate a “Hamptons style” theme, blended with a French, chic look.

The couple have managed to pack plenty into the new open-planned layout

First Jobs : We had to ensure that the surroundings were enhanced to complement the project so the first job was to erect stabling and a 3 bay garage constructed in a traditional heritage style with a new granite cobbled courtyard. We could then start the renovation of the Coach House!

To include: Removal of the roof, replacing all timbers, repointing, floors, installing under floor heating, central heating, wiring, water and gas installation.The roof modification was necessary to create spacious, vaulted upstairs rooms, which we finished in a beach house style.

Works were carried out by Nick and locally based craftsman, the repointing of the Hamstone in traditional lime mortar was undertaken by an excellent builder from the Village.

The Bath was raised on a platform to create a focal point, that combined with the use of organic materials, including a whitewashed timber wall ensure a relaxing peaceful space.

Fabrics, crockery all chosen for their English Garden theme – Susie Watson


I drew a lot of my inspiration from homes in the Hamptons, white timber floors, adding texture with seagrass rugs, stone windowsills, ceramic pendant lights and glass hurricane lamps. Combining hues of soft greys, blues, various tones of white – with accents of colour – using a mixture of Farrow and Ball’s white’s – Blackened, (Kitchen), White Tie (Walls and Ceilings) and Wimborne White (Furniture)

Beautiful crafted kitchen, with full oak stave work services, Belfast Sink, Lancanche Range, Gorenje Fridge and wine cooler

Picture Captions;

Main Living Area:  A New England vibe was developed using white washed timber planks and sumptuous soft furnishings

Choosing natural Farrow & Balls ‘white tie’ adding accents of sage greens, brings the outside in. / Bespoke Oak mullion windows and doors – Wellington, Somerset
Curtains – Susie Watson – Fabric title – Linen Hydrangea & Butterflies – £52 per metre .Roman Blinds – Embroidered Leaf Duck Egg – £36 per metre. Walls painted Farrow & Ball – White Tie – 2.5 Litre Litre Pot – Price £39.50.Table – Reclaimed Pews – Pine Table.White Crockery – Sophie Conran – Portmerrion Range; Choosing natural white tie – accents of sage greens – bringing the outside in

Kitchen:  Imported Moroccan Lime Stone Floors/ Bespoke kitchen handmade, fitted and installed by Nick and the cupboards painted in Farrow & Ball ‘Blackened’

Imported Moroccan Lime Stone Floors/ Bespoke kitchen handmade, fitted and installed by Nick and the cupboards painted in Farrow & Ball ‘Blackened’ or Beautiful crafted kitchen, with full oak stave work services. Similar Pendant Lights, £70 Cox & Cox. Flower Holder £25 Floral Supplies.


Bathroom: “Nickel bath is a focal point and a luxury statement piece”.

“Vista from the Bedroom looking at the Nickel bath – statement piece”. Nickel Bath –Imported. Towel Ladder – Biggie Best, Sherborne. Drink Water/Champagne Bathroom Artwork – Living Pretty, Curry Rivel, Somerset

Snug:  Calm, restful place to relax . A palette of calming tones and simple décor creates a cosy atmosphere.

Day Bed – Forever England, Sherborne. Lamp – Driftwood from the beach – made in to a lamp Calm, restful place to relax. Seagrass – Summer Hamper – Alternative Flooring

Bedroom:  Colours – Calm, relaxing, inviting, luxurious with views of Stanley and Sidney the miniature Shetland ponies in the paddock. 

Bed Linen/Throws – The White Company and Sleep & Soak, Forever England.Bedside Tables – Biggie Best, Sherborne

The result is a wonderfully luxurious retreat for the family and is also available for guests to also enjoy the relaxed elegance the Coach House offers.

Available to let:

Heritage Outbuildings:

Beautiful crafted kitchen, with full oak stave work surfaces.. Similar Pendant Lights, £70 Cox & Cox. Flower Holder £25 Floral Supplies.

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White House








LOCATION South Somerset

ROOMS Hallway, Sitting room, Kitchen family room, utility, snug, gym, 5 bedrooms (3 en suite), wet room, TV room, games room

Purchased in 2009

PREVIOUS PROPERTY ‘We lived in our first self build in a Village 6 miles away’

Favorite item: ‘The children bought me an original ‘Lhouette ‘painting, a contemporary artist, as a birthday present. It adds a splash of colour to the kitchen.’

Best Buy The Pool table for family gatherings and coffee machine for Stacey daily fix of caffeine.

Decoration Tip: ‘To achieve a contemporary and minimalist look start with a white canvas and make sure you have loads of storage!’ says Lisa

Lessons learnt: ‘Never ever believe you will stick to your budget. The build in all round took 3 years to create’, says Lisa

Through sheer determination and hard work, Lisa and Stacey have created the family home of their dreams whilst building their business during the recession/ Despite the challenges of building a business through a recession, Stacey and Lisa built the family home of their dreams.

White House
Lias and Stacey enjoy sharing this light filled open plan contemporary space with family and friends.

When Lisa and Stacey, who run their own successful company, Pro-fit Windows and Doors, were already enjoying living in a house they had built themselves and were not looking for another home building project. However one day on a family day trip, they found themselves drawn to a new village location and by chance, discovered a plot of land with a vast garden. Lisa recalls her first visit to the property: “ Although the existing house was very run down and would need demolishing, our minds were made up as soon as we saw the location and garden,’ The couple both shared the same vision to create a beautiful, stylish and contemporary home from scratch for their young family. The new build was underway!

The White House
White Pool table from £1000, Mercury Leisure
Walls have been painted in Dulux Diamond Pure Briliant White Matt, £24.98 per 2.5 litres, B&Q. Pool table from £1000, Mercury Leisure.
Retro Curved Dining chairs, £130 each, Stanford Furniture Polished concrete floor £100 per sq mtr, Lazenby

The couple worked together with local architect Justin Paterson from BoonBrown, planning and designing their dream home. The layout and design for a spacious, light filled, 3 storey minimalist house soon came together. ‘Less rooms but larger spaces, clean lines and a white canvas is what we love,’ says Lisa. A house full of family and friends with loads of space to enjoy.’ Although the plans faced opposition from some of the locals, planning permission was finally granted after 6 months in November 2009. Lisa and Stacey, together with with their two children Jazdon now 11 and Honaya,10 rented a property nearby for the duration and work began in Spring 2010.

White House
Modular design white sofa from £3195 Denelli

The existing house was knocked down and having paid a considerable amount money to remove soil from the site, they had to pay for it to be returned to raise the foundations due to the water level. We faced many challenges recalls Lisa: ‘It was not good timing as the recession was hitting hard and whilst Stacey was working hard building up their business, he project managed and worked along side contractors late into the evening in order to keep costs down.’ This became family life for quiet a considerable amount of time. Nevertheless the timber framed house, constructed partly from Blue Lias stone, cedar wood cladding and vast sliding double glazed windows and doors under a slate roof started to come together. ‘We fitted our own windows from our company which has given the property a unique feel,’ says Lisa.

 White House
Profit-Fit Windows and Doors 01935 474550

Inspired by American homes, a centrally placed impressive glass stairway divides a large entrance hallway and landing. Stacey wanted the children to have large ensuite bedrooms and Lisa wanted dressing rooms. ‘Our children had an input into the their new home and helped choose their bathroom floors and wardrobes’, say Lisa, ‘it has made them appreciate the house more by being part of the process and seeing all the hard work that has gone into it.’ The stunning light filled kitchen/dining/family room with its extensive stylish Rot Punkt fitted kitchen and quartz work surfaces provides the family with open plan living, loads of storage and a white pool table adds a sense of fun. Large floor to ceiling sliding doors lead out onto a fully equipped terrace where their family and friends can relax and enjoy another outside room. Stacey ensured that A rated energy efficient tinted glass windows were fitted through out. Tinted for privacy and sun protection which keeps heat in and reflects the sun out,creating a cool environment and warmer environment in the winter. The vast open garden has been newly planted with trees and hedges for much privacy.

This fun and bright personalised football style room with bespoke built in wardrobes for lots of storage.Lira Contemporary Kingsize Bed , £370, Trendy Products. Similar Porto Red 2 seater sofa bed, £550, Habitat. Cushions from £20 Azest.
This room is a princesses dream bedroom where Honaya can enjoy the space and relax.Similar Isabella White Slay double bedbase, £425. Next. Tadpoles Pink 4 light Chandeliar , £171, Amazon. Made to measure Blinds from Azest
Kylie Minogue Velvetina Bed Set from £50, Debenhams
This elegant and spacious relaxing bedroom overlooks the garden through their own Glazed sliding doors.

During the build, Lisa enjoyed putting together a mood board full of decorating and furnishing ideas. One of the key features of the design was to create a white canvas, so they painted the entire house in Dulux Diamond white. Adding pops of colour here and there, such as the painting in the kitchen, help to lift and enhance the rooms. Despite the challenges they faced throughout the build, continually being able to tweak the plans and personalise the spaces was a definite on going benefit which they took advantage of. For example, they built a gym instead of a dark patio at the back of the house. A polished concrete floor with under floor heating covers most of the ground floor area and ‘although it isn’t cheap,’ says Lisa,’ it is durable, practical and stylish.’ She spent hours and hours on the internet sourcing furniture, lighting flooring furnishings etc’

White House
Art deco glass fronted dressing table from £465, Outthereinteriors


Three years on despite moments of despondency, frustration and sheer exhaustion the couple worked on until the day they could finally move into their newly built dream home in May 2013. ‘It was definitely worth it,’ says Lisa and referring to an inspirational word plaque in the downstairs cloakroom, ’some people want it to happen, some wish it , others make it happen!’

This is a simple and bright bathroom with its high quality sanitary ware has a therapeutic and relaxing feel to it.




White House
Victoria and Albert Napoli volcanic limestone freestanding oval Bath 1909mm L, £2153.. The Alternative Bathroom Company Similar Large stone candle holder, £24. L’Adore décor. Long and Low Chrome Towel rail, £300, Plumbase.
Antique river wash floor tiles in Tumbled 62 finish, £62 per sq metre.


Sitting Room

Clever use of accent lighting and a purple sofa have introduced warm tones to the white walls.

White house
Similar Purple Velvet Sofa,from £2100, Rupert. Venetian Mirrored Coffee table , ££300, Home Living.

 Stockist List

 Profit-Fit Windows and Doors 01935 474550

Lazenby 01935 700306

BoonBrown Architects 01935 420803

Debenhams 0344 800 8877

Azest 01935 420200

Amazon uk

Wells Reclammation Yard 01749 677087

Home Living 01753 553319

Dulux 0333 222 7676

Trendy 0845 299 4211

The Alternative Bathroom Company 0203 375 9001

Denilli 01908 216200

Stanford Furniture


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Rustic Retreat in Somerset

Rustic Retreat in Somerset


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Tina and Martin’s 15th Century stone cottage has an idyllic setting in a village close to the borders of the Somerset levels. They fell in love with the charming little bridge over the rhyne which surrounds most of house.

Restoring/Bringing this beautiful period property back to life has been a labour of love for Tina and Martin Philpott. Rediscovering the period charm of this 16th Century farm cottage has been a labour of love for Tina and Martin.Built around 1550, Tina and Martin’s Somerset home was originally two farm cottages which were converted into one house in the 1970’s. The original wash house, once used for stringing pearls still remains in the grounds of the 2 acre garden, as does the old brick toilet. Tina now uses the old wash house as a studio for her wedding flower and chocolate box business and Martin uses the disused toilet as a garden shed.

The original stone wash house still remains within the garden. By installing a wood burning stove and some furniture, Tina enjoys spending time here creating her chocolate boxes and beautiful fllower arrangements.


Entranced by the beautifully preserved blue lias flagstone floors, original mullian windows with seats, natural oak beams and an impressive historic inglenook fireplace, they put aside their concerns about the neglected condition, determined to restore it back to its original charm.

The original period features of the Mullion windows, Inglenook fireplace and Blue Lias flagstone floor are complimeted by the rich colour scheme and French style of furniture.

‘We hoped that together we could create a comfortable and beautiful home as a project for our retirement’, says Tina. Also they were both drawn to the garden which was overgrown and neglected. ‘When we acquired the field it was full of prize winning stinging nettles’, says Martin.From an early age Tina had been drawn to everything that was old and full of character. ‘I have always believed I was born in another time’, she says. Having already enjoyed restoring a couple of properties, she suggested to Martin that it may be a good time to look out for a new project. ‘This historic stone house was definitely ‘old and interesting’, says Tina. ‘ It was in quite a bad way in parts and although we knew it was going to take a lot of time and effort, it would be worth it in the end.’ Still living in their cottage in the Chiltern Valley they would journey down to Somerset on their days off to work on the house.

This enchanting light filled extension, with the original blue lias flagstone floor, leads into the garden. An unglazed urn from La Fleur Antiques in Langport filled with white hydrangeas is another stunning arrangement by Tina.

The first job was to hire a skip and take up all the carpets. Working as a team with their good friend Vincent, a builder by trade, they slowly renovated this beautiful old stone property. ‘We pulled the plasterboard down together, Martin would then work on filling the walls and Vincent plasteredand painted, says Tina. One by one, the ceiling plasterboards were taken down, starting with the one in the guest bathroom exposed ancient natural oak beams. ‘We immediately suspected that underneath all the plasterboard encasing the rest of the house, we were about to discover the same’, says Tina. Sure enough the house soon started to open up and come to life. Stripping away the old décor was hard work but revealing the house’s natural hidden beauty was well worth it.

Tina’s love for pieces of original furniture, has created a distinctive country style kitchen full of charm and character. An Irish pine dresser form Derek Stacey in Somerton, filled with an eclectic mix of vintage glassware and china is eyecatching. The kitchen table, made by Derek Stacey from reclaimed oak floor boards found at a local school, is complimented by Tina’s flower arrangement using Artic Roses, Eucylyptus and wax flowers in a lined metal planter.

The beautiful ancient oak beams, some with old markings from previous carpenters, were such a delightful discovery.

Creating a feature wall by painting it ‘Raspberry’ by Laura Ashley adds balance interest and depth to this high ceiling room with its horizontal oak beams.

In the master bedroom they raised the horizontal beams, which were individually numbered, upright against the wall to make a feature of them. Throughout the upstairs old reclaimed floorboards that were painstakingly sanded and oiled replaced all the chipboard on the floors. ‘Sanding and oiling all those boards was a labour of love but well worth doing’, says Tina.

The bedding is from the Life is a Bed of Roses Bedding by Lulu Guinness – Dotmaison. A collection of antique cotton, linen and lace scatter cushion adorn the handmade French pine antique bed

The renovations yielded an unusual and unexplained incident one day while some plumbing was being done upstairs in one of the bedrooms. ‘Water started running down the walls in the dining room,’ says Tina, ‘we immediately turned the water off at the mains and checked under the floor but couldn’t see where the water was coming from.’Once the kitchen was gutted, Tina enlisted the skills of a local craftsman who built, fitted and hand painted the units in cream colour. Integrating a bespoke ceiling to floor larder unit in the corner of the room has not only added more character to the room but is useful for extra storage. ‘It looks like it has been here forever,’ says Tina.

The kitchen table, made by Derek Stacey from reclaimed oak floor boards found at a local school, is complimented by Tina’s flower arrangement using Artic Roses, Eucylyptus and wax flowers in a lined metal planter.

Knocking through the wall and fitting classic French doors instantly opened up the kitchen out onto the terrace and subsequently created a light filled family space. The small floor tiles were not in keeping with the period of the property and were replaced with Terracotta tiles throughout the scullery and kitchen, and their good friend Vinney built the plinth for the Butler sink and plumbed it in. ‘I had some stonework added around the door frame to compliment the stonework surrounding the original back door opposite, ’says Tina. ‘ I have spent a lot of time over the years learning to create an ambience through taking time over detail.

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It is possible to create a beautiful and welcoming home on a limited budget.’ Tina loves collecting pieces of furniture, antiques and collectibles. She enjoys creating atmospheres in each room, for example the simple collection of terracotta plant pots, vintage wicker baskets and beautiful French linen cushion covers in the garden room.

Tina and Martin inherited the discarded roll top bath from a friends house renovation and painted it in a Burgundy colour from the Hammerite Metal range to match the metal washstand frame.

Her attention to detail is impeccable and fresh flowers and candles in stone urns, planters and holders adorn each room. ‘Our home is full of beautiful and interesting collectable junk,’ says Tina, ‘ I love it.’


There is a definite French influence throughout the house. The rich colours of the walls, some painted in Farrow&Ball’s ‘Orangery’, are a backdrop to the neutral tones of much of the furniture, such as the built in larder cupboard in the kitchen and the stone table in the drawing room.

The candle holder on the oak pillar gave me the inspiration to make similar wall lights using German Ridge Tiles’, says Tina. The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball, Orangry.

Tina had the French rattan sofa and chairs in the drawing room repholsterd using a soft gold silk. ‘I tend to use chalk paint when upcycling furniture because it is easy and gets the natural effect that I like’, says Tina. The occasional table in the kitchen was painted in a stone colour from Annie Sloan range and then distressed with sandpaper.

Tina upcycled this occasional table by painting it in Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in a Stone colour. A simple arrangement of Fresias in a vintage teapot and a single rose in a small glass vase add interest and charm.

Having lived in this beautiful house for nearly 12 years, Tina and Martin have created a unique, beautiful and comfortable home.


They love it in the summer when the roses bloom and the wild meadow is full of cow parsley, poppies and heady scented lavender. ‘I love wandering through the meadow on a balmy summer evening enjoying the peace and tranquillity’ says Tina ‘at the far end of the meadow is our wonderful summer house, which we call Skip Hall!

The summer house also affectionately known as ‘Skip Hall’ has been hand built by Tina and Martin using the entire contents of a friends skip!

This was built from the entire contents of a neighbours skip,’ The house is constantly evolving and changing because Tina is always moving things around adding new pieces of furniture, flower arrangements and reorganising her much loved treasured collectables.




Don’t be afraid to move things around from room to room

Tina enjoys creating beautiful, interesting spaces and is not afraid to move pieces of furniture, mirrors, lamps or ornaments around the house. ‘I am always moving things around to create a certain mood or new look’, says Tina,’ the chandelier in the kitchen is often moved into the dining room when we have guests for supper’

A project, whether large or small is achievable on a budget! It’s not always about how much money you spend but is more about how much time and input you are prepared /able to invest in it. It is possible to create unique spaces and fill them with beautiful things on a budget! Get creative!

Try to source the original piece of furniture or have something made from scratch ie reclaimed materials as these will stand the test of time, look authentic and be a great backdrop to other less expensive curiosities or items of interest. For example, the country style kitchen table was made up from old oak floorboards reclaimed from a local school. The inexpensive wired planter filled with heavenly scented flowers fills the room with scent and immediately creates an individual and stunning table setting. Having made a complete summerhouse out of reclaimed timber and materials from an entire skip, proved cost effective and provides the garden with an sense of individuality and fun. Mexican Chimeneas can be found for as little as £50 The Rattan Garden furniture, umbrellas lamps, baskets and trellis can be sourced cheaply online, on sites such as Ebay and Gumtree.



Angie at Cottage flowers 01460 53020 (Please include)

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Mark and Rhonwen Inderwick like to tell people they live in a 350-year-old council house. It’s a half-truth, since they did buy their Dorset farmhouse from the council, via auction. Historically, the property had been let to tenant farmers, in the days when the land they tended might only add up to 20 acres or so. As farms were gradually consolidated, buildings like this became too small and impractical for modern farming, and were rented out as regular housing.


Build it Magazine Dec 2014
Build it Magazine Dec 2014

Tatchell Case study 1

Tatchell Case study 2

Tatchell Case study 3

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The Essence of a home’s design

Architecture: Harness your home’s potential by working in sympathy with the building itself. Start by exploring its strengths and features. Look at both off-the-shelf and bespoke solutions in your design for each room, without compromising practicality, luxury and aesthetic beauty. Work in harmony with the building; try to restore it to its best by paying attention to detail and quality.


The design of new style stairway here adds structural balance to this hallway
The design of new style stairway here adds structural balance to this hallway

Design: A property’s true potential and value can be enhanced with elegant and simple elements of design. Whether you enlist the services of an Interior Designer or work on your own, it is essential that you stay close to the project to ensure your vision is achieved and your expectations met. Inspirational concepts and ideas at Hertfordshire interior design practice, The House Clinic. Develop good relationships with craftsman and artisans to ensure bespoke furniture, fittings and furnishings are finished to the highest quality as possible.


The Interior Designer has opted for a neutral colour palette, clean lines in the furniture and a white paint washed pine floor to create a light, practical and stylish feel to this dining room.
The interior designer has opted for a neutral colour palette, clean lines in the furniture and a white paint washed pine floor to create a light, practical and stylish feel to this dining room.

Craftsman: Finding a quality craftsman to deliver a quality bespoke service should run parallel to tailor made creating a distinctive look on each project. From design to finish keep a close eye on logistics, budget and timelines. This will ensure the result is not only beautiful and handcrafted but cost effective.


This truly bespoke stunning kitchen, with its vibrant colour scheme was designed and handcrafted by Mark Butterfield in Somerset. “The family wanted something fun, bright and colourful,” says Mark,  “It is made from painted tulip wood with birch plywood panels and the worktops are pine floor joists which were up cycled from the original kitchen”.
This truly stunning bespoke kitchen, with its vibrant colour scheme, was designed and handcrafted by Mark Butterfield in Somerset. “The family wanted something fun, bright and colourful.” says Mark, “It is made from painted tulip wood with birch plywood panels and the worktops are pine floor joists which were up-cycled from the original kitchen.”




Beautiful Furniture: Sourcing individual pieces of furniture, sculpture  and art adds a personal touch to your home. Lamps have become a fashion accessory for the home; the jewellery of a room. A classically-shaped sofa will work in any setting. Just re-cover it every few years. Source beautiful fabric cost effectively online, or at Antique fairs. Local artists and sculptors provide inspirational and interesting elements to areas within the home


Large-scale classic pieces of furniture and contemporary art and sculpture create a more dramatic atmosphere
Large-scale classic pieces of furniture and contemporary art and sculpture create a more dramatic atmosphere




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Holiday Destinations

Domus Nova, Umbria

If you are looking for a holiday destination for next year, then Domus Nova in Umbria is a wonderful place to consider. Why, you ask? Well it is a personal favorite of mine and I would therefore thoroughly recommend it. This beautiful old rustic house is a converted farmhouse owned by Luigi and Maria Mungo, who have lovingly restored it into separate apartments for their many happy guests to enjoy.

Welcome to Domus Nova

Welcome to Domus Nova

 Domus Nova is situated near the city of Qualdo Tadino, nestling in the majestic Appenine mountains and within the green heart of Italy.  Medieval towns such as Assisi, Gubbio, Spello and Perugia are all within easy reach. May & June sees wonderful wild orchids of rare beauty, September & October ideal for sightseeing and walking. The house has amazing views over rolling hills and mountains.


View from the bedrooms
View from the bedrooms


Apennine Mountains
Apennine Mountains in Umbria

Maria and Luigi make our own wine from our terraced vineyard ! Everyone enjoys the homemade jams, chutneys and vinegar we provide too. A holiday at Domus Nova is like staying with friends. Guests sometimes get together to make pizzas or have drinks in the evening. As each self catering apartment has its own independent entrance, there is no feeling of being on top of each other. You can even learn some Italian or how to make pasta with Luigi, if you can drag yourselves away from your sunbed by the pool!


La Casetta
La Casetta

The house is surrounded by a well planted garden that includes ornamental shrubs and fruit trees with a well established vineyard of approximately 120 vines producing about 150 litres of wine.The heating is powered by a GPL gas cylinder sunk into the ground and is controllable in different sections from two boilers. Mains water is supplied and there is also a 100 foot well used for filling the swimming pool and to water the garden using a system of well positioned taps. The pool is heated by solar panels, and is proving to be cost effective and energy efficient.


Tranquil and picturesque.
Tranquil and picturesque.

The views from the pool are stunning overlooking rolling hills and the Appenine mountains. There are two pool terraces with comfortable sunbeds and a large umbrella. The pool is for everyone’s use. It is eight metres in diameter. It is a very sociable  with families playing ball or creating a wave effect! It’s easy to find a shady spot either by the pool or in the vineyard to read that book you’ve been meaning to read for ages! Wander round the garden taking in all the smells of the wild herbs and lavenders. Pick some basil or rocket from the vegetable patch. There are two Umbrian barbecues and a table tennis table.We also have a selection of toys, buckets and spades for the little ones. Each apartment has its own private terrace area too. Our lovely large garden is planted with ornamental trees, roses and shrubs plus fruit trees and, of course, the vineyard. Sometimes we have figs and other fruit to offer our guests. It depends on the season!


The swimming pool at Domus Nova is heated by Solar Panels.

The swimming pool at Domus Nova is heated by Solar Panels.

 The house is in open countryside with spectacular views towards the mountains and would lend itself to be used as holiday apartment lettings. It is close to many good restaurants, supermarkets, shops and has excellent road and rail links to the coast, major cities and Ancona and Perugia airports..

For further information and bookings please visit Owners Direct

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Revamping your bedroom

One’s bedroom is a haven from the pressures of everyday life; we use bedrooms to relax, unwind and recuperate from the day’s events. With winter closing in around us, there is no better time to give the interiors of your bedroom a revamp and add a few decadent touches.




If you want to achieve a sense of luxury in the bedroom, the most effective colour schemes are neutral palates such as creams and browns, and metallics like gold and silver. Gold will achieve a warm, decadent feel and can feel more traditional. Silver is equally effective at creating a luxurious atmosphere, it’s modern and glamorous.


Casa Forma
All Photographs courtesy of James Balston



Storage is a necessity in bedrooms, although practicality doesn’t have to come at the expense of stylish interior design. There are lots of options that will help you to achieve a sense of luxury, and it’s fair to say that nothing works quite as well as wooden furniture. The piece can be complemented with matching bedroom furniture, such as this charming beside table. The open space is perfect for storing books and other bedside items. If you want to create something really special, why not use this space to display a brightly coloured lantern or a glossy potted plant?



Bedding is a fantastic means of including metallics aesthetics in you room. Your bed should be the dominant feature of the room, so add lots of cushions and throws to make it appear large and comfortable. A down feather mattress cover adds a bit of plumpness to your bed, not to mention it makes your bed very comfortable.


Casa Forma
Interior design by Casa Forma



The next time you’re staying in a boutique hotel, take note of the lighting used in the design of the bedrooms. You’ll discover lots of shimmering jewels and crystals, dripping from elegant chandelier-style ceiling fixtures. You can achieve the same effect in your bedroom, with a similar light fitting.


Casa Forma
Interior design by Casa Forma

You should avoid designs which hang several feet from the ceiling; this can make the room feel smaller and is more effective when placed over a dining room table.

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The Post House Bed and Breakfast Somerset

The Post House
The Post House
The Post House Bed and Breakfast Chewton Mendip Somerset

The Post House Bed and Breakfast is located in the heart of the beautiful Somerset countryside near Bath.


The Post House is a thriving bed and breakfast business but is also a stunning home to Karen and her partner John.  Karen bought the Grade II Listed former village Post Office, and adjoining bakery, 5 years ago and began a comprehensive programme of renovation that turned it into the stylish home it is today.  The original post office counters and display cabinets were still in daily use when Karen first saw the house, not having been changed for more than 80 years.   The Bakery with its vast old bread ovens were still supplying bread daily.  Both the Post Office and the Bakery were a centre of village life and bringing them into use as a B&B has continued the tradition of welcome.The Post Office is now a spacious and contemporary home whilst maintaining all its original charm with a clean, French rustic ambience.

Karen welcomes guests into her beautiful home

With guest’s comfort uppermost in her mind, Karen embarked upon restoring the house whilst retaining the original style choosing simple rustic French furniture sourced from the South West of France, where she lived previously.  The cool unadorned interior makes a perfect background for her collection of Sacksick artwork.  Situated as it is close to the Chic Cultural Centre of Bath and the Historic City of Wells (the smallest City in England) it was easy to continue finding treasures in the numerous reclamation yards and antique shops that abound.  Visitors to the BB are spoiled for choice when it comes to shopping and eating locally.

The Post House B&B
The Living Room in The Post House was still laid out as the Village Post Office when Karen bought the property.

The house changes its look according to the seasons, Karen believes that a living environment should renew itself according to the time of year – guests can enjoy long lazy summer evenings in the courtyard with candles and a bottle of wine in summer, or crisp winter walks and cosy log fires in winter.  Fabric and light determine the balance of interior decoration; rich and warm in winter, cooler and simpler in Summer.

The Post House
Courtyard Shot: This French style courtyard is a wonderful setting where guests can relax with a glass of wine

The long entrance Hallway is home to a lovely old Armoire bought in Burgundy and leads onto the sitting room with comfortable chairs and sofas upholstered with imaginative flair to accommodate the many guests.  Lamps and window shutters create a soft glow and crackling logs fires, a cosy welcome.

The Post House B&B
Bespoke wooden shutters, a flag stone floor and an open fireplace in the living room create a rustic, French country ambience.

Karen has returned life to the house in a way that reflects her own artistic beliefs and her experience of living in France.  The accommodation is very versatile – the old bakery can be let as self catering accommodation with its own serene, enclosed courtyard garden with high walls and espallied fruit trees echoing the colours and planting of Provence.  The furnishing is simple but luxurious, a serene and stylish space making a perfect retreat.Lime washed walls and unusual hues give a contemporary but old look that enhances the building.  Colours and textiles reflect the French influence and guests can relax in a house that is both comfortable and interesting.Karen has succeeded in her aims to make the Post House a haven for her guests – rooms retain an ancient feel but are contemporary and comfortable giving no hint of the huge renovation project.  Karen also uses the benefit of modern technology – wifi is available throughout the house and plasma TVs are strategically placed for watching in bed! The French feel of the house is overturned at breakfast time when a sumptuous English breakfast is served in the dining room with its old flagged floor where a fire burns in the hearth in winter months and fresh flowers scent the air on summer mornings.  The floors, travertine, wood and the original uneven flags lend the house a timeless air and the French doors flung open to the topiaried front courtyard lead one on out through a rose covered archway to the lawned gardens beyond.

The Post House
Enjoy a glass of wine in the french style courtyard

Throughout the house the original floors were retained where possible and used as a basis for the whole decorative approach.  They lend colour and patina, as well as warmth, and catch the eye as soon as you enter the house.   Karen used their colour and influence to complement her traditional furniture from Provence with her collection of both art and textiles.  Disliking clutter and rooms that are too full, she took stock of her and Johns existing furniture, sold the heavier and more traditional pieces to marry past and present.  The house continues to grow and change, combining her love of sumptuous, comfortable living with her aesthetic integrity and creating a home which is the essence of French style and her love and passion for light and tones.  Lime wash and its use is Karen’s most loved medium using natural hues and cool refreshing shades.  Lime wash gives a pleasing subtle effect that gently fades with time.

The Post House
A headboard made from an old tongue and groove bar panel adds to the rustic charm of one of the bedrooms. Like much of the house, it is painted in Farrow and Ball’s “Old White”.

The three guest bedrooms each have their own special features.  In The Post House there are two contrasting rooms.  The first is versatile, and convertible, either into comfortable twin beds or into a king-sized bed.  This room has its own private bathroom, with plenty of space and a cast iron, roll top bath, in which six footers can easily lie full length.  A great way to relax at the end of a busy day of sightseeing.

The Post House B&B
White painted bedside tables give this bedroom a calm country feel.


The Post House
A Victorian style pedestal basin and cast iron roll-top bath bring a classic period look to this bathroom.

The other bedroom, features a square bath within the room and an en-suite loo and basin.  The room itself is set in the eaves so there is great character and uniqueness.

The Post House
A square Japanese style bath tub fits snugly in the space under the eaves in another guest bedroom.

There are many little touches in all of the rooms, not least of which is a welcoming jar of Karen’s homemade biscuits.  It is a complete mystery how they always disappear overnight! The third bedroom is in The Old Bakery, which was used to store the flour and other raw materials for baking.  It has a beautiful French oak floor and an en-suite bathroom.  It is an intregal part of this whole conversion from a long used workplace into a self contained, self catering cottage.

The Post House B&B
The natural French oak floor in the Old Bakery bedroom is complemented by a headboard made from a panel found in a local reclamation yard.

The ground floor runs from the front door through a fully equipped and well thought out kitchen, into the main feature, which is the living space.

The Post House
Freestanding antique units and modern appliances in the Old Bakery kitchen continue the uncluttered look.

The ceiling rises into the roof eaves with thick old beams, painted in Farrow and Balls “Old White”, giving it plenty of character.  The fireplace is a unique feature, of age and gravitas which entirely suits the room.  There is space for at least six people to sit at leisure or to dine at the large French refectory table.The room is finished with French doors out into the charming courtyard, where on a sunny day there is total privacy and quietude among the well chosen fruit trees and roses.

The Post House
The Bakery with french doors leading out into the Courtyard
The Post House
Lime washed in Farrow and Ball’s Yellow Ground; the Mediterranean Courtyard.

Karen has created a wonderful, uncontrived haven, somewhere where you can gather your thoughts and take time out.  It combines traditional, simple style with a flavour of Southern France.  A place to relax whilst being only a stones throw from Bath and Bristol with all their cultural facilities.

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