When we bought the house it was in an ideal condition: it looked rundown but, underneath, it was sound. Most of the work was, therefore, cosmetic. The drawing room was given pseudo C18 panelling and the library, previously a bedroom, some ‘Georgian’ shelves as though from a townhouse. The kitchen got a recycled quarry tile floor and its components moved around to look like an old farmhouse. Bathrooms were given freestanding baths with old French tile splashbacks and we discovered huge, log-burning fireplaces in three rooms. Victorian floorboards were removed to show much earlier oak and elm boards underneath - a real find, like the beams in our bedroom and the gothic door in a spare room.
Nearly everything was painted with Farrow & Ball in tones of string, stone, mouse’s back and pointing - colours which are calm and light-enhancing. Then there’s the furniture: we bought almost everything for the house at auction from a huge Italian walnut table in the library to 18 prints of England’s kings and queens. Then added two teak Burmese earth spirits, a life-size Chinese wooden deer and a whole fleet of decoy ducks from America. People tell us it’s getting like Snowshill, a National Trust house where the owner had finally to move out to fit in his Japanese armour, medieval musical instruments and penny-farthing bikes. They could be right.
When you visit, there’s always something new. A dozen 18th century Chinese plates and three Angie Lewin sketches and woodcuts are the latest buys.