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John and Chris Lewis renovate Cotswold home

PUBLISHED: 11:52 19 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:01 20 February 2013

Looking towards the other end of the siting room

Looking towards the other end of the siting room

Victoria Jenkins meets a couple who chose to renovate their outbuildings rather than face the hassle of house-hunting.Photography: Knight Frank LLP of Worcester

While their children were growing up John and Chris Lewis lived in a wonderful medieval farmhouse on the borders of Worcester


While their children were growing up John and Chris Lewis lived in a wonderful medieval farmhouse on the borders of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. It dated from 1400 and came with a granny annexe where Chris's elderly mother lived. And although no longer a working farm it also came with an L-shaped block of buildings which had begun as open-fronted cowsheds.


"These cowsheds dated back to early Victorian times and were built from local brick with clay tiles on the roof," says Chris, a fashion buyer. "Then before we came along a previous owner had turned it into a stable block and had filled in the open front with ugly breeze block walls and stable doors. However it was perfect for our daughter Sally to keep her pony in."


However the time came in 1990 when Chris's mother decided she no longer wanted to live in the granny annexe but to return to London.


"So as we didn't have a use for the annexe we decided we should perhaps move," says Chris.


But one day after a particularly difficult time house-hunting the couple were strolling round the stable block and realised what a stunning view there was behind it. "It may sound silly but it was a quite different view from the one we had in the farmhouse," says John, a retired IT executive. "We could see for miles across farmland towards the Malvern hills and an amazing sunset."


So the couple decided that perhaps they should move next door - into the stables, now rechristened Briar Cottage.


"The stables may be earlier than we think," says John. "There are some very old-looking beams in what is now our main bedroom (and after all, the farmhouse next door is medieval). The original walls were built from old handmade mellow bricks and looked very attractive. However the breeze block front did not so we decided to have it removed and replaced with reclaimed bricks to match the originals."


The couple also decided to extend the block by adding a sitting room, kitchen and conservatory. "We had pretty fixed ideas of what we wanted but called in an architect to help them with the technical side of the design," says Chris.


However it was by no means plain sailing as soon after the building work began a storm smashed many of the roof tiles - so the builders had to find reclaimed versions of them as well as the bricks.


"Then as if that wasn't enough there was an even more violent storm and this time it blew down an entire wing," says Chris. "The whole thing just collapsed - roof, walls and timbers."


"It's true the builders had removed the gable end to create the sitting room extension," says John. "But the building would have held up were it not for the terrific gale force winds. We took the opportunity to use larger oak beams to replace some rather spindly woodwork; although it seemed to be a disaster at the time, looking back it was a blessing."


It took a year to complete the conversion and build the extensions but now the single-storey conversion has four bedrooms, two receptions rooms, a big kitchen and a big conservatory. "Graham Sanders of Tewkesbury built us a hardwood and glass conservatory initially but after a few years we had him back to extend it as we found it so useful for entertaining we decided we needed more space," says Chris.


"Being stables there were just concrete floors when we began," says John. "These were dug up for services and damp proofing then new concrete floors were laid in the bedrooms and sitting room which are carpeted over. But in the hall and dining room floors we put down York flagstones and in the kitchen and conservatory we have terra cotta tiles. "


All the external doors and window frames are of English oak as are the internal doors in the living area. These and the oak beams have been treated with "Sikkens" wood treatment products. Other doors are of reclaimed old pine and there are real leaded lights in the windows.


"Our son David is an interior designer - David Lewis Designs - and has helped us with all aspects of design especially as regards the garden," says Chris. "All that was at the back of the stables was a 12 inch thick slab of concrete left over from the farmyard days, almost impossible to get up. David was able to create a design that minimised the amount of concrete that had to be taken up and used the remainder as a solid base to the patio. It is now the perfect country garden."


Then a few years ago the couple decided to refurbish the kitchen and designed it round the big green Aga they had put in 16 years before.


"A local firm made us custom-built oak cupboards and black granite worktops," says John. "We have a new Miele dishwasher, Miele fridge freezer, Miele hob and extractor fan. There is also a stainless steel sink, a Panasonic combi-oven and microwave (for when the Aga is switched off), a pull-out wastebin and a walk-in larder which holds a multitude of tins, jars and bottles plus all those big dishes that you only use a few times a year."


There is a separate utility room to take the washing machine and drier.


At the same time the couple decided to redecorate their living room which was then in shades of pink and green. "Again David was able to suggest the colour scheme," says Chris. "And now the general theme is in a golden beige with the walls painted in Cotton Lace by Dulux."


When it came to furnishing the house Chris chose a combination of antique and reproduction pieces. "Our oak dining table and chairs were specially made for us by Quercus in Sussex," says Chris. "But many of our old pieces came from auction sales."


As for the splendid antique French bed in their bedroom this was bought almost by accident from a shop in Truro while they were on holiday.


"It was used to display some rather attractive bedding but when we got back home the bedding didn't look so good on our rather ordinary bed," says Chris. "So I rang the shop and asked if I could buy the bed as well - surprisingly they said yes!"


"We love it here," says John. "It's because we created it ourselves. And we haven't really stopped yet as we've been given permission to add on yet another extension - this time a small addition to the bedroom to accommodate a bigger en suite (this time with a bath) and a dressing room."


"The view from the conservatory is fantastic," says Chris. "And one of the best sights is the harvest moon in autumn - it almost seems to touch the hills."



While their children were growing up John and Chris Lewis lived in a wonderful medieval farmhouse on the borders of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. It dated from 1400 and came with a granny annexe where Chris's elderly mother lived. And although no longer a working farm it also came with an L-shaped block of buildings which had begun as open-fronted cowsheds.


"These cowsheds dated back to early Victorian times and were built from local brick with clay tiles on the roof," says Chris, a fashion buyer. "Then before we came along a previous owner had turned it into a stable block and had filled in the open front with ugly breeze block walls and stable doors. However it was perfect for our daughter Sally to keep her pony in."


However the time came in 1990 when Chris's mother decided she no longer wanted to live in the granny annexe but to return to London.


"So as we didn't have a use for the annexe we decided we should perhaps move," says Chris.


But one day after a particularly difficult time house-hunting the couple were strolling round the stable block and realised what a stunning view there was behind it. "It may sound silly but it was a quite different view from the one we had in the farmhouse," says John, a retired IT executive. "We could see for miles across farmland towards the Malvern hills and an amazing sunset."


So the couple decided that perhaps they should move next door - into the stables, now rechristened Briar Cottage.


"The stables may be earlier than we think," says John. "There are some very old-looking beams in what is now our main bedroom (and after all, the farmhouse next door is medieval). The original walls were built from old handmade mellow bricks and looked very attractive. However the breeze block front did not so we decided to have it removed and replaced with reclaimed bricks to match the originals."


The couple also decided to extend the block by adding a sitting room, kitchen and conservatory. "We had pretty fixed ideas of what we wanted but called in an architect to help them with the technical side of the design," says Chris.


However it was by no means plain sailing as soon after the building work began a storm smashed many of the roof tiles - so the builders had to find reclaimed versions of them as well as the bricks.


"Then as if that wasn't enough there was an even more violent storm and this time it blew down an entire wing," says Chris. "The whole thing just collapsed - roof, walls and timbers."


"It's true the builders had removed the gable end to create the sitting room extension," says John. "But the building would have held up were it not for the terrific gale force winds. We took the opportunity to use larger oak beams to replace some rather spindly woodwork; although it seemed to be a disaster at the time, looking back it was a blessing."


It took a year to complete the conversion and build the extensions but now the single-storey conversion has four bedrooms, two receptions rooms, a big kitchen and a big conservatory. "Graham Sanders of Tewkesbury built us a hardwood and glass conservatory initially but after a few years we had him back to extend it as we found it so useful for entertaining we decided we needed more space," says Chris.


"Being stables there were just concrete floors when we began," says John. "These were dug up for services and damp proofing then new concrete floors were laid in the bedrooms and sitting room which are carpeted over. But in the hall and dining room floors we put down York flagstones and in the kitchen and conservatory we have terra cotta tiles. "


All the external doors and window frames are of English oak as are the internal doors in the living area. These and the oak beams have been treated with "Sikkens" wood treatment products. Other doors are of reclaimed old pine and there are real leaded lights in the windows.


"Our son David is an interior designer - David Lewis Designs - and has helped us with all aspects of design especially as regards the garden," says Chris. "All that was at the back of the stables was a 12 inch thick slab of concrete left over from the farmyard days, almost impossible to get up. David was able to create a design that minimised the amount of concrete that had to be taken up and used the remainder as a solid base to the patio. It is now the perfect country garden."


Then a few years ago the couple decided to refurbish the kitchen and designed it round the big green Aga they had put in 16 years before.


"A local firm made us custom-built oak cupboards and black granite worktops," says John. "We have a new Miele dishwasher, Miele fridge freezer, Miele hob and extractor fan. There is also a stainless steel sink, a Panasonic combi-oven and microwave (for when the Aga is switched off), a pull-out wastebin and a walk-in larder which holds a multitude of tins, jars and bottles plus all those big dishes that you only use a few times a year."


There is a separate utility room to take the washing machine and drier.


At the same time the couple decided to redecorate their living room which was then in shades of pink and green. "Again David was able to suggest the colour scheme," says Chris. "And now the general theme is in a golden beige with the walls painted in Cotton Lace by Dulux."


When it came to furnishing the house Chris chose a combination of antique and reproduction pieces. "Our oak dining table and chairs were specially made for us by Quercus in Sussex," says Chris. "But many of our old pieces came from auction sales."


As for the splendid antique French bed in their bedroom this was bought almost by accident from a shop in Truro while they were on holiday.


"It was used to display some rather attractive bedding but when we got back home the bedding didn't look so good on our rather ordinary bed," says Chris. "So I rang the shop and asked if I could buy the bed as well - surprisingly they said yes!"


"We love it here," says John. "It's because we created it ourselves. And we haven't really stopped yet as we've been given permission to add on yet another extension - this time a small addition to the bedroom to accommodate a bigger en suite (this time with a bath) and a dressing room."


"The view from the conservatory is fantastic," says Chris. "And one of the best sights is the harvest moon in autumn - it almost seems to touch the hills."



shire and Gloucestershire. It dated from 1400 and came with a granny annexe where Chris's elderly mother lived. And although no longer a working farm it also came with an L-shaped block of buildings which had begun as open-fronted cowsheds.


"These cowsheds dated back to early Victorian times and were built from local brick with clay tiles on the roof," says Chris, a fashion buyer. "Then before we came along a previous owner had turned it into a stable block and had filled in the open front with ugly breeze block walls and stable doors. However it was perfect for our daughter Sally to keep her pony in."


However the time came in 1990 when Chris's mother decided she no longer wanted to live in the granny annexe but to return to London.


"So as we didn't have a use for the annexe we decided we should perhaps move," says Chris.


But one day after a particularly difficult time house-hunting the couple were strolling round the stable block and realised what a stunning view there was behind it. "It may sound silly but it was a quite different view from the one we had in the farmhouse," says John, a retired IT executive. "We could see for miles across farmland towards the Malvern hills and an amazing sunset."


So the couple decided that perhaps they should move next door - into the stables, now rechristened Briar Cottage.


"The stables may be earlier than we think," says John. "There are some very old-looking beams in what is now our main bedroom (and after all, the farmhouse next door is medieval). The original walls were built from old handmade mellow bricks and looked very attractive. However the breeze block front did not so we decided to have it removed and replaced with reclaimed bricks to match the originals."


The couple also decided to extend the block by adding a sitting room, kitchen and conservatory. "We had pretty fixed ideas of what we wanted but called in an architect to help them with the technical side of the design," says Chris.


However it was by no means plain sailing as soon after the building work began a storm smashed many of the roof tiles - so the builders had to find reclaimed versions of them as well as the bricks.


"Then as if that wasn't enough there was an even more violent storm and this time it blew down an entire wing," says Chris. "The whole thing just collapsed - roof, walls and timbers."


"It's true the builders had removed the gable end to create the sitting room extension," says John. "But the building would have held up were it not for the terrific gale force winds. We took the opportunity to use larger oak beams to replace some rather spindly woodwork; although it seemed to be a disaster at the time, looking back it was a blessing."


It took a year to complete the conversion and build the extensions but now the single-storey conversion has four bedrooms, two receptions rooms, a big kitchen and a big conservatory. "Graham Sanders of Tewkesbury built us a hardwood and glass conservatory initially but after a few years we had him back to extend it as we found it so useful for entertaining we decided we needed more space," says Chris.


"Being stables there were just concrete floors when we began," says John. "These were dug up for services and damp proofing then new concrete floors were laid in the bedrooms and sitting room which are carpeted over. But in the hall and dining room floors we put down York flagstones and in the kitchen and conservatory we have terra cotta tiles. "


All the external doors and window frames are of English oak as are the internal doors in the living area. These and the oak beams have been treated with "Sikkens" wood treatment products. Other doors are of reclaimed old pine and there are real leaded lights in the windows.


"Our son David is an interior designer - David Lewis Designs - and has helped us with all aspects of design especially as regards the garden," says Chris. "All that was at the back of the stables was a 12 inch thick slab of concrete left over from the farmyard days, almost impossible to get up. David was able to create a design that minimised the amount of concrete that had to be taken up and used the remainder as a solid base to the patio. It is now the perfect country garden."


Then a few years ago the couple decided to refurbish the kitchen and designed it round the big green Aga they had put in 16 years before.


"A local firm made us custom-built oak cupboards and black granite worktops," says John. "We have a new Miele dishwasher, Miele fridge freezer, Miele hob and extractor fan. There is also a stainless steel sink, a Panasonic combi-oven and microwave (for when the Aga is switched off), a pull-out wastebin and a walk-in larder which holds a multitude of tins, jars and bottles plus all those big dishes that you only use a few times a year."


There is a separate utility room to take the washing machine and drier.


At the same time the couple decided to redecorate their living room which was then in shades of pink and green. "Again David was able to suggest the colour scheme," says Chris. "And now the general theme is in a golden beige with the walls painted in Cotton Lace by Dulux."


When it came to furnishing the house Chris chose a combination of antique and reproduction pieces. "Our oak dining table and chairs were specially made for us by Quercus in Sussex," says Chris. "But many of our old pieces came from auction sales."


As for the splendid antique French bed in their bedroom this was bought almost by accident from a shop in Truro while they were on holiday.


"It was used to display some rather attractive bedding but when we got back home the bedding didn't look so good on our rather ordinary bed," says Chris. "So I rang the shop and asked if I could buy the bed as well - surprisingly they said yes!"


"We love it here," says John. "It's because we created it ourselves. And we haven't really stopped yet as we've been given permission to add on yet another extension - this time a small addition to the bedroom to accommodate a bigger en suite (this time with a bath) and a dressing room."


"The view from the conservatory is fantastic," says Chris. "And one of the best sights is the harvest moon in autumn - it almost seems to touch the hills."


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