Jeremy and Louise Brown bought Upthorpe Farm in Gloucestershire,
they envisioned the Grade II listed 16th Century farmhouse becoming
their dream home.
then it was practically untouched, still retaining many of the original
features like beams, doors and so on. But with the property being
completely unmodernised, it required an ambitious renovation plan
to bring it into the modern era.
a series of problems sent their budget spiralling to around £300,000
- far above their original estimate of £70,000.
changed their lives to realise their dream - they sold their Bristol
flat and moved into a caravan to save money. They also put their
pensions on hold to generate extra finance for the project.
stuck at it and their dream home is now a reality. It is a combination
of the modern and the old, and they've invited us in to take a look
around their pride and joy.
the first part of our series, Jeremy and Louise tell us the story
of their dining area with its enormous Inglenook fireplace. Jeremy
explains their approach to the room:
is the dining room, in effect, but because of the front door it's
almost like a dining room/hall. It's
such an old house that there's no front door, there isn't a proper
hallway as such so we've tried to combine the two. That's why we
haven't put much furniture in here, it's quite simple."
a very nice room too. There are some fabulous slender light fittings
and a huge, glorious dining table which looks a bit special in itself.
Louise takes up the story:
walnut and there's an inlay of oak there. It was made by a Japanese
designer. We're really pleased with it because there's so much going
on in this room with the beams, the wooden surrounds around the
doors and the big Inglenook fireplace - we just wanted to keep it
as minimalist as possible, really."
Inglenook Fireplace is immense, at least two and a half metres long
with a huge beam above it. However, it wasn't visible when they
first bought the property. Jeremy explains:
whole fireplace was actually covered up when we moved in. There
was a small, Victorian-type fireplace originally and then we uncovered
found there was a slightly bigger fireplace behind it, we uncovered
that and we came back to the original Inglenook.
two stone jams either side are the originals but the beam over the
top, the two ends were there but the middle section had caught fire
over the years so that was missing completely. We've replaced it
with a new oak beam, which is already full of woodworm!"
is a gorgeous piece of wood and it's obvious that having such original
features around the place makes it a very attractive and unique
property. Louise agrees as she remembers what made them fall in
love with the building in the first place:
think it was the fact that it was just completely unspoiled because
you find a lot of these old properties over the years have had stuff
ripped out. I think we were really lucky that there was still so
the architect first saw it, he was absolutely amazed. He was so
excited because he hadn't seen so many things for years.
think it was the first thing that attracted us to the house. Obviously
we couldn't see all of the things, we had an inkling that they were
there and in some cases we've had disappointments - for example,
the beam was destroyed. But in a way we ended up with this fantastic
fireplace which was a lot bigger and a lot better than we could
have hoped for, really.
was quite traumatic, that fireplace, because they had to rebuild
the whole of that gable wall - all the way up to the top."
brings us to the moment when Jeremy and Louise almost lost the entire
gable wall and with it, possibly, the entire house. To save money
on the renovation work, Jeremy took on some of the demolition work
himself. It was while working on the fireplace that they discovered
the gable wall was built on less than ideal foundations - rubble.
was just to save money, really. I'm not very DIY orientated so the
only bits that we did were demolition's and that was quite a dangerous
bit of demolition.
builders actually kicked me out and evacuated the whole house because
it was that dangerous so that was quite hairy."
must have been a low point of their renovation project because it
must have seemed like their dream had suddenly become a structurally
unsound horror that was going to drain cash from them - a true money
pit! However, Jeremy and Louise were determined to see their dream
fulfilled and, besides, it was wasn't the first setback they'd encountered
since they'd begun the project. Louise explains:
think the worst thing was when we uncovered this wall that we had
already had three pretty huge nightmares before that so we hoped
that we'd seen the worst of it but, actually, this was a major problem.
of the builders had been in the trade for fifty odd years and they
said they'd never seen anything so bad.
was a bit stressful because we really thought that we'd done most
of the structural repairs at that point. It was quite scary."
they faced the problem as they had with the others and overcame
it. Now their dream home is finished to their specifications and,
as can be seen with the dining room, it's all rather spectacular.
the next part of Jeremy and Louise's renovation story in The
money pit - part 2.
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