A place for relative values

Elkie and Joel sit with mum, Lia, around the table in the kitchen
Elkie and Joel sit with mum, Lia, around the table in the kitchen
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Lia Peters and her husband have succeeded in making their property a home and work hub for all the family. Sharon Dale reports on their thriving media production and equestrian businesses in a secluded corner of the Dales

A warm autumn sun shines down on the farm and there’s a soundtrack of birds singing to the back beat of horses hooves.

It’s Darling Buds of May meets Follyfoot and just what townies imagine when they dream of escaping to the country with a shiny 4x4, a Barbour and matching hunters.

“It is lovely today but it’s not always like this,” says Lia Peters. “It’s incredibly windy up here and we were snowed in for five weeks last winter and 10 weeks the winter before that.” She spends most of the day working outside in all weathers now that her farmhouse home is the hub of an equestrian business.

Lia and husband Chris bought what was a riding school, near Richmond, five years ago after moving from West Yorkshire.

“We’d looked around for ages for somewhere we could have horses and we initially thought of Lincolnshire because you get quite a bit for your money there, but Chris is a keen mountain biker and he kept saying: ‘it’s so flat’. ”

“When we came to see this it had everything including stables, land, hills and a lovely Dales long house that had some character.”

The couple and their son Barney, 11, moved in and set about making the house a home.

Lia is a furniture restorer and former interior designer, while Chris specialises in fitting kitchens and bathrooms and can turn his hand to any kind of building work.

He revamped the bathroom by tiling the walls and floor in marble and swapped the carpets downstairs for practical wood boards.

The sitting room fireplace was painted and treated to a driftwood mantelpiece, while space was made for their bespoke sofa covered in Andrew Martin fabric. The wheat thresher that was wall art in their previous home now has legs so they can use it as a coffee table.

There are seashells everywhere along with pictures of Venice.

“I hate repeatables, the sort of homeware that you see time and time again because it’s been mass produced. I love that each shell is unique and they give such beautiful colour,” says Lia.

“Venice is important to us as it’s my favourite place and Barney’s too.”

The sitting room is for relaxing but the kitchen is the hub and has had a makeover with new units and a mosaic the couple brought from their previous home.

It looks like a Fornasetti and adds an element of surprise to the farmhouse kitchen. Chris bought Lia a matching lampshade that hangs over the Gustavian table. Behind this is what Lia calls her “wall of fame”.

Her grown-up daughters, Chloe and Elkie, along with Barney, are all successful show jumpers who inherited Lia’s love of equestrian pursuits.

That common bond has grown into a successful business and turned the farmhouse into a multi-generational home.

“When I first came I intended to run the place purely as a riding school but then Elkie and her partner Joel wanted somewhere they could run a their business from and here was perfect, so they moved in,” says Lia.

Elkie, who has a degree in media production, competes at a national level. She won the Grade A, B and C categories at the British Showjumping Area 15 championship

Joel, who grew up in Bingley, is a former finalist in the Horse of the Year show and rode for Eros, competing on the continent. He was based at Markus and Meredith Beerbaum’s stable before moving to Henk Noornen’s yard on the Dutch-Belgium border.

He resigned his post to bring his long distance romance closer to home.

He and Elkie now run EJP Sports horses. They breed and train their own animals as show jumpers but also break in and school horses for other owners.

Those who don’t make the grade are trained as hunters or in dressage, so they can have a useful life.

The couple also run LooseBox Production, which makes films for equestrian celebrities and well-known riders, who can then sell their dvds at exhibitions and via their web sites.

Lia spends much of her time helping out as well as caring for Chris, who recently suffered a heart attack.

“It’s all go but love I having Elkie and Joel and so does Barney,” she says.

The young couple have their own bedroom and bathroom and share the sitting room and kitchen.

“It made sense for us all to stick together and the three of us work as a team. I couldn’t have done this without my mum. She is often the eyes on the ground when we are schooling the horses. Joel is brilliant and also has the physical strength we lack,” says Elkie.

“Living together is no problem. We all get on well and anyway when we finish with the horses we’re so tired we just collapse in front of the fire.”

With all the mucking out, feeding, riding, schooling and grooming, there isn’t a lot of time to think about interior design anymore, though Lia’s creative touch is still much in evidence, from the flower arrangement in the kitchen to the dramatic red and black master bedroom boasting Chinese cabinets.

“Life is so different from a few years ago and it’s certainly not glamorous. We spend all winter in ski clothes, we are knee deep in mud and the kitchen is in a permanent mess, but I enjoy it,” says Lia, who has a new addition to the family, a little foal named Bronco.

“I love working with horses and I love having my children around me.”

www.ejpsportshorses.com; www.looseboxproductions.com