Clair Paxman’s conversion is the perfect escape to the country, with roses round the door and free range chickens. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Simon Hulme.
Drive-by viewings aren’t always the best way to see a property as Clair and Curtis Paxman discovered after initially discounting their barn conversion.
“We’d seen hundreds of houses so we were a bit jaded and when we drove past, it just didn’t do anything for us,” says Clair.
Well-known Kirklees estate agent Simon Blyth thought otherwise. Convinced it was perfect for them, he persuaded the couple to attend an open viewing.
As soon as they stepped into the hallway, they looked at each other and agreed: “this is the one”.
“We’d only seen it from the bottom of the road but when we went inside, the attraction was instant. Then I went in the kitchen and saw the Falcon range cooker I’d always wanted and that was it,” says Clair.
The semi-detached barn, near Holmfirth, gave them more space inside and out for their son Jacob, three-and-a-half, and it was in immaculate condition. The previous owners had spent a small fortune on the fixtures and fittings.
“We’d seen a Grade II listed renovation project but it would’ve meant living in a caravan while it was done and with a young child that would’ve been hard work. This was just the opposite. We could move in immediately and just enjoy it,” says Clair.
“It was uncanny because everything from our old home looked perfect here as though it was meant to be. Even the kitchen colour scheme was the same.”
It also meant that the former estate agent could concentrate on her home staging business, I Love Your House, which helps others present their properties for sale.
She uses her experience as an agent to spot problem areas and offers everything from advice to dressing interiors and project managing.
“Coming from an estate agency background is a big advantage because you know what puts buyers off. If you live in a house for a long time and are comfortable and happy there you can become blind to its problems,” she says.
“It really helps to have an independent eye assess what might make a property more saleable because the longer it stays on the market the less it will sell for.
“It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s about putting right what buyers may see as a negative and trying to work with what you have. So it can be inexpensive things like painting an old garage door or making a drab hallway more welcoming.”
She practises what she preaches. Her barn, which has four bedrooms and four bathrooms, is show home perfect and there’s no trace of clutter, which is a bête noir for buyers.
“I hate it. I believe everything should have a place, which is another reason I liked this house. It has lots of storage.”
Her other golden rule for clients is that the entrance to a property should be as attractive as possible.
“Buyers make their minds up in the first few seconds. While you’re chatting, their eyes are swivelling round taking everything in,” she says.
Her porch is certainly welcoming and colourful. It boasts a wooden bench, which she bought for £150 from eBay and painted in Farrow and Ball. A new seat cushion softens the look. The matching side table is from Home Sense, the interiors branch of TK Maxx.
The hallway carpet has been replaced with Yorkshire stone and the stairs and landing have been treated to a smart, striped carpet from Dixon and Franks in Honley.
“The hallway is double height with a statement fireplace. It’s one of my favourite bits of the house,” says Clair, who has added a contemporary black chair and a pair of wall-mounted silver horns from her favourite shop, Rural Interiors in Denby Dale.
The kitchen was treated to a table and chairs from Lindsay’s Furniture Mill at Milnsbridge near Huddersfield. The sitting room and dining room are connected by double doors making them perfect for parties when the dining room becomes the dance floor. It leads down to Jacob’s playroom that has double doors onto the garden.
His car-themed bedroom has been customised by Clair with wall stickers and a picture she painted herself and there is plenty of storage for toys. His teddies, or dust collectors as she calls them, are limited to two or three on the bed, while the rest live in a box waiting their turn to be played with.
Outside, she and Curtis have gone to great lengths to make the garden child-friendly. They have replaced many of the prickly rose bushes with lavender and colourful annuals.
The large piece of land at the entrance to their home has been brightened with raised beds, a pond and seating areas along with lots of space for bike riding.
There’s also a large enclosure for the family’s latest additions, three chickens, which Jacob has named Boy, Girl and Thing, and two adorable pygmy goats Morris and Boris
“We wanted to give Jacob something to love and take responsibility for and he gets such a lot of pleasure from walking down every day to ‘feed the guys’ and collect eggs,” says Clair.
“It’s all part of what makes the house perfect for us and I can’t thank Simon Blyth enough for forcing us to come and view this place. He was right. It has exceeded all our expectations.”
Home staging by Clair Paxman, from £150, www.iloveyourhouse.co.uk
Lindsay’s Furniture Mill, Milnsbridge, Huddersfield, www.lindsaysfurnituremill.com
Home Sense, interiors branch of TK Maxx, www.homesense.com
Rural Interiors, Denby Dale Industrial Estate, www.ruralinteriors.co.uk
Lionhart boutique, Victoria Street, Holmfirth, www.lionhartboutique.com