Great teamwork and attention to detail combined to create this beautiful country house near Burnsall. Sharon Dale reports.
Set in a glorious location in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, historic High Woodhouse appears to have little in common with the flashiest apartment scheme in London.
But the period rural idyll and One Hyde Park have one striking similarity. They both boast sitting rooms that are virtually identical.
The owner of High Woodhouse, George Rayner, was inspired by pictures of the world’s most expensive flat, designed by Candy and Candy, and decided to replicate the look with lilac and gilt sofas and contemporary cabinets from Julian Chichester and Porta Romana lamps.
His wife Carol was unsure that the design would translate, but it works perfectly with the rest of the property, which is decorated in classic country house style: “It’s very contemporary and not what we usually go for so I did wonder whether it work but I trust George and he was right,” she says.
The makeover was part of a major facelift that began when George and Carol bought the property, near Burnsall, 13 years ago.
They are serial renovators and have moved 11 times over the years, unable to resist a project. This is by far the longest they have stayed anywhere, which says a lot about the home they have created, though they are now selling up.
“We’re moving because we fell in love with another house in the area. It’s another project which we’ll enjoy. Renovating is our passion. We like sourcing things and take great pride in what we do,” says George.
Their home shouldn’t be a hard sell thanks to the location, just outside the village, and the magnificent views over the river to the fells beyond. The interiors are also picture perfect, thanks to teamwork and attention to detail.
The couple work in business, but property is their hobby and they love everything from living amid the dust and rubble of a renovation to adding final touches with no expense spared.
“We work really well and share the same taste,” says Carol. “George is very interested in interior design. If I say ‘let’s go shopping for a new chair’, he is there like a shot.”
They bought High Woodhouse after falling in love with Burnsall. They rented a house in the village while they were converting a barn but decided to stay.
“We fell in love with area. It has a really friendly community but properties here rarely come on the market and we waited about two years until this came on,” says George.
It wasn’t love at first sight as the 16th century house, remodelled in 1901, was shielded by a high hedge and the interiors were not to their taste.
They began by re-plumbing, rewiring and adding architectural detail like the limed oak panelling, coving by Shipley-based Andrew Steane and new fireplaces, including one in the snug from Knaresborough-based stone specialists Lapicida. It is made of marble harvested from the River Tiber. Centuries ago offcuts were thrown in there and are now being reclaimed.
The kitchen has bespoke units by Jeremy Wood, a cosy black Aga and the French-style Byron Square floor from Broadleaf. The utility has a free-standing larder unit by local joiner, Simon Newbould, who also made the wardrobes and built a new staircase.
The old uPVC conservatory was demolished to make way for a timber garden room with roof lights and large areas of glazing, and the 14ft high hedge has also gone, revealing magnificent views.
Upstairs, the four bedrooms and three bathrooms were all refurbished and the stained glass window on the landing was replaced with clear glass to bring in light and views.
Furniture is a mix of pieces they have collected over the years from favourite shops like Menston Antiques, though the dining chairs were bought at Brown Muffs 38 years ago and have been recovered, while the 1940s children’s beds have been revamped with a coat of paint. New buys are from Julian Chichester in London and Middleton Design in Durham.
Walls are painted and papered in Farrow and Ball and are full of art, which is George’s passion. He likes both traditional landscapes and contemporary work, some of which was painted by daughter Alex, a photographer with a degree in Fine Art.
The garden is by John Chapman, whose brief was to create “somewhere nice for a gin and tonic”, and includes a landscaped “chill out area” area on one side and lawns to the other.
The final part of their project was converting the garage into an annexe for visitors. Peanut Pad includes a large living area, small kitchen and a double bedroom with bathroom. Detail is what George and Carol excel at and here it adds interest to what could’ve been a bland box. They chose exposed punched stone from Lapicida for the walls and installed reclaimed beams from Machells. A four-poster in the bedroom adds wow factor.
The couple are now busy planning their next renovation.“We will be sad to leave this house and we’ll certainly miss the view,” says George, “but we are looking forward to the next project.”