After more than 20 years spent slowly renovating a former station house while working and raising their family, Polly Medley-Weston and her husband Martin were finally happy with the result.
The only issues left to tackle were a lack of space for guests and the dilapidated garage.
“The obvious solution was to renovate the garage and put a loft room above,” says Polly.
The planners didn’t agree, but their refusal has resulted in an even better outcome. The couple now have a new garage and workshop plus a stunning, single storey annexe with sensational rural views.
The project was managed by Martin and took three years to complete, but the long haul was well worth it. The design and attention to detail is exceptional and Martin, an engineer, tackled much of the work himself with help from specialists like Hilltop Roofing of Harrogate. Thanks to his free labour and the use of some reclaimed materials, the build came in under their £90,000 budget.
“He was very hands-on and worked incredibly hard. He was on this every spare minute, so much so that he wouldn’t take holidays,” says Polly.
The couple designed the annexe layout themselves. It consists of a large, open plan living space with a bedroom and wetroom at one end and another bedroom at the other. It is full of natural light thanks to Velux and bi-fold doors that lead onto a decked patio area with raised beds made from railway sleepers.
Sustainability was at the heart of the build, so the stone was sourced from an old Yorkshire mill that had been demolished. There’s a thick inner core of insulation in the floor, walls and roof, while a log burning stove and solar gain from the windows add to the warmth. A heat exchange and ventilation system also warms the annexe and ensures that the air is always fresh. LED lights were installed to minimise energy use.
The clock tower was a gift from a good friend and they sourced and repaired a 1960s signal post for the garden, which sits beside the old railway track.
Inside, Polly, a vintage and painted furniture specialist, used all her skills and experience to create a sensational interior.
She did most of the decorating in Farrow and Ball paint and the chimney breast is in her favourite Brassica, while the walls are Elephant’s Breath and the ceiling is Skimming Stone.
“We really enjoyed the decorating and furnishing and we were able to be a lot more adventurous in here than in our home next door. We’ve used a mix of contemporary, vintage and industrial items,” she says.
The lights above the kitchen area are from an American ocean liner and she bought them from a marine antiques specialist. The beds and sofa are from Barker and Stonehouse and the French mirror from an antique fair.
Centre stage is old industrial shelving that now acts as a room divider. Martin backed it with distressed timber cladding reclaimed from a Victorian railway station roof canopy.
It houses their vintage sports collection, including everything from old cricket boots to a lacrosse net, oars and wooden skis, bought from flea markets and antiques fairs.
“It just epitomises nostalgia for me and it started about 15 years ago with an old 1930s cricket bag I bought. It had a Bombay to Venice luggage label on it and was full of kit that had never been unpacked. We carried on collecting but it was all packed away in the garage until now,” says Polly, who is well-known for her quirky vintage finds and her painted French and period furniture, which she sells from her Country-Chic workshop and store at Clint Bank, near Harrogate, and from her own fairs.
Her love of old furniture began when she was 17 and sourced second-hand finds for her first flat.
“It was needs must back then, but I really enjoyed customising the furniture and, as I’ve always loved sewing, I made all my own soft furnishings.”
She became a vintage textiles specialist and later opened a shop in Harrogate before moving to her workshop.
“I had painted furniture and chairs I reupholstered in the first shop as props to show off the fabric but customers were keen to buy them so that’s what I’ve been doing ever since,” she says.
The annexe boasts many of her creations, including a collection of old chairs that have been given new life. The armchair in the bedroom is covered in an old plaid travel rug, while stand chairs have been reupholstered in antique French linen.
“I love hunting interesting furniture and fabric down and I’ve been in the business so long I have lots of contacts, which helps,” she says.
The wardrobe in the bedroom is made from a pair of French shutters. The old locker bench makes perfect shoe storage and matches the locker room coat hooks above. The vintage chairs on the decking were found at the Home Restoration and Salvage Show at Ripley.
The kitchen units are ex-display and the walls are decorated with a variety of pictures, including railway stations that reflect the land’s former use and a set of architectural prints of Harrogate that Polly found at a car boot sale.
“It’s incredible to think that this whole area was like a shanty town before,” says Polly.
“It’s been hard work but fun to do and we love the annexe. It’s a fantastic, flexible space.”
Country Chic, Clint Bank, Burnt Yates, near Harrogate, www.country-chic.net