After a long day outdoors there’s nothing like coming home to the warmth of a country kitchen with a cosy Aga.
Claire Lupton loves this contrast between outside and in, so much so that she has worked hard to make sure that the distinction is highly visible.
The interior of her farmhouse home is glamorous and pristine. It’s the perfect retreat from the muck and mud that comes with keeping horses and other animals.
“I’ve always been interested in interiors and I like everything just so. This is definitely not the kind of farmhouse where you can traipse through with muddy wellies,” she says.
Claire and her family bought the house in the hamlet of Risplith, near Ripon, after a long search for a property with land in a good location. The pretty stone exterior won her over, along with the six-and-a-half acres, plenty for three ponies, three horses and her pets, which now include two Jersey cows that she saved from becoming minced meat.
“They belonged to a local farmer and they were both unable to calf, so they were going to be sold for meat. They are just field ornaments really but they do keep the worm count down and they get on with two of our horses, Rosie and Heidi,” says Claire, a former riding instructor, who also has three dogs and two chickens, Maud and Martha.
Much of her time is spent looking after the menagerie and preparing the horses for the shows that she and her daughters, Maddie and Sophie, take part in.
Claire has put considerable effort into the outdoor space, which has stables, an arena and a field shelter. She also made changes to the house, which is made up of two Victorian cottages and a more recent extension.
The first job was taking out the kitchen island and replacing it with an enormous dining table and chairs. The cream kitchen cabinets were repainted in Farrow & Ball’s French Grey.
The formal dining room is full of colour thanks to the rosette board made by Soft Sew in Ripon. It has pride of place above the fireplace, while a dresser holds Claire’s collection of Emma Bridgewater pottery.
“I love her designs and I’ve got almost every one of them. The best thing is that, although they are all very different, they seem to go together,” she says.
While there is central heating and wood-burning stoves, the property was cold and draughty so the single-glazed, sash windows were replaced with new energy-efficient, double-glazed, wood composite versions. Claire also insisted on swapping the narrow floorboards for wider versions, which make the rooms look bigger.
One of the biggest projects was stripping out the contemporary bathroom suite and replacing it with a fabulous £3,500 copper bath and matching sink from Dorset-based William Holland. A Thomas Crapper high- level cistern toilet completes the look.
“I didn’t think the modern bathroom suited the house. I wanted more of a period style so I had the walls panelled and I bought the new bath, sink and loo. I love the way it looks and the bath is incredibly comfortable. It hugs you and it retains heat, so your water stays warmer for longer, which I was really surprised at,” says Claire, who isn’t averse to taking a sledgehammer to a wall in pursuit of hidden historic features.
“I convinced myself there was an old fireplace next to the stove downstairs so I knocked the wall out only to find it was just a recess. It was disappointing but I put a plate rack in there instead,” she says.
The furniture is a mix of treasured pieces, bespoke built-in wardrobes by Ripon joiner Mike Taylor and new buys from one of Claire’s favourite shops, The Castle, in Ripon.
She also has an impressive selection of auction finds, including inexpensive oil paintings she chose for the colours and the subject matter. Her best buy is a £50 painting of a horse and rider. Research revealed that it is worth much more.
Her pictures sit against a backdrop of greys, pale greens and off whites. Texture and softness come from the blinds and padded pelmets, the cushions from Voyage that feature wildlife, and the tartan and tweed lamps from House of Bruar in Perthshire.
“I love anything that has a country style,” says Claire, who is preparing to pack up and say goodbye as the family is selling the house. She is searching for a project, a property that needs complete renovation, with land for the horses, of course.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she says. “But I will be sad to leave this place. It’s such a beautiful spot and I will miss coming in and standing by the Aga after mucking out in the morning.”
• Watson’s Farm, Risplith, is for sale with Hopkinsons, £975,000, www.hopkinsons.net
Soft Sew blinds and curtains, Marina Way, Ripon
The Castle interiors store, North Street, Ripon
Fig and Willlow candles, Queen Street, Ripon
Thompson auctions, Harrogate, www.thompsonsauctioneers.com
House of Bruar, www.houseofbruar.com
Thomas Crapper toilet, www.thomas-crapper.com
William Holland, copper bath and sink, www.williamholland.com