Wendy and Paul Martin were so excited about their new home that they started buying furniture before they had even exchanged contracts. “It was a bit of a gamble, but we knew in our heart of hearts that it was a risk worth taking,” says Wendy.
It didn’t prevent a few sleepless nights and “what have we done?” moments before the converted granary was finally theirs, and they left their modern four-bedroom estate house, complete with all their old furniture, to start a new life in the country. “We were not actively looking to move house and came to see the granary out of curiosity,” says Wendy. “We simply fell in love with it.”
Apart from its quiet village location near York, they loved the big open rooms, original oak beams and the light pouring in through floor to ceiling doors and windows. “It offered the best of both worlds,” says Wendy. “We are home birds and knew we could make it really cosy and comfortable, but with a modern edge.”
They decided to make a completely fresh start, which meant selling most of their furniture with the old house and giving other things away. “We liked what we had but it wasn’t going to work in the granary,” says Wendy. “We agreed to buy things specifically for this place so we didn’t have to make any compromises. The only things we brought with us were some cabinets that were just right for the sitting room. Everything else, even the pictures and ornaments, have been bought new. We had to be brutal, but it was really refreshing to let go of everything and start again.”
Wendy and Paul wanted to work with the historic character of their 19 th Century home, which was originally a farm outbuilding, while creating a 21st century interior. They started shopping for key pieces, such as sofas and beds, to fit the proportions of the light, spacious rooms, and gradually built up their home with things that worked with the thick oak ceiling beams and the oak floor .
The house has been converted from a dilapidated granary by local builders, who renovated it and created the layout. The kitchen was designed and installed by Image Developments in Malton and then Wendy and Paul were able to choose the oak floor, tiles and built-in wardrobes.
“We were too excited to wait for completion before ordering furniture, and had loads waiting for delivery,” says Wendy. “We would come down armed with
sheets of newspaper and lay them out on the floor to show where the furniture would go, and how big it would be. It helped us to visualise the way it would all slot together.
“It was hard to let go of the old things but very refreshing to start again from nothing. We chose things for their texture and country colours, creating a lovely calm backdrop and then adding colour where it needed a bit of a lift. I would describe our style as modern country with a rustic."
Wendy admits she made some mistakes, like buying a £600 set of curtains for the sitting room which didn’t look right and were taken down again two days later. But they gradually transformed the granary from a bare shell into a welcoming, comfortable home.
“It really comes into its own at Christmas,” says Wendy. “We had an open fire in our last house and would never have considered buying a house without another open fire or a log burner. It’s lovely to wake up on Christmas morning, light the fire and open our presents around the tree.”
They also make the most of the huge beams in the kitchen, adorning them with bunting, foliage from the garden and festive hangings. The dining table in the corner of the sitting room, which is generally used for special occasions, also comes into its own during the festive season when friends and relatives come to share the relaxed, open plan lifestyle.
“We love the fact that the sitting, dining and kitchen areas all link together,” says Wendy. “We considered putting the dining table in the kitchen window, but we only use it on high days and holiday. So we put the armchairs in the window instead, so we can enjoy the garden all year round. It’s a very sociable house. One of us can be in the kitchen and the other in the sitting room and we can still talk to each other. It’s like one large living space but with the benefit of being able to close the doors between them when we want to cosy it up. It’s the perfect all -occasion, all-year-round home.”
Answers please: What is your best buy? We love the ornate mirror near the dining table because it really works with the beams. It cost £240 from Grandad’s Shed in Pocklington.
What is your top tip? Use newspaper spread on the floor to the exact size of the furniture you want to include in each room. It gives you an instant overview of how it all fits in and the space it will occupy.
What’s the best thing about living there? The location in a quiet village just ten miles from York gives us the best of both worlds.Where do you shop? We love York, where we head for Rodgers, Browns and Fenwicks, but we also like Grandad’s Shed in Pocklington for unusual pieces of furniture and home accessories.
Where do you get inspiration from? For inspiration: I read loads of magazines and love anything which is modern country in style. I get a lot of ideas which help me to focus on a style we both like.
Which is your favourite room? The kitchen. It is so cosy and welcoming. When we have people round we can open the doors into the sitting room and it becomes one large open plan area.