CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Mary taylor and Steve Grubb buy a new home in the Cotswolds

PUBLISHED: 10:18 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:40 20 February 2013

The heavy pine table and banana leaf chairs came from Whartons of Solihull.. The blocked up

The heavy pine table and banana leaf chairs came from Whartons of Solihull.. The blocked up "niche" in the wall behind the table was once where the carters would reach in for the key to the barn where they could leave their milk. The Window roman blinds a

Mary Taylor flew in from Singapore with just 48 hours to furnish her family's new home in the Cotswolds. Victoria Jenkins explains how she did it. pictures by Nocholas Yarsley

In the space of 48 hours Mary Taylor flew to the UK from Singapore and embarked on a mad-dash shopping spree to furnish her new home in the Cotswolds.


"I couldn't stay longer as I had left behind two little boys and a husband who is always having to travel at a moment's notice," she says.


Fortunately Mary had already ear-marked several items by scanning the internet and with the help of various in-laws was able to dash from shop to shop buying a huge range of items from bathroom suites to new blinds, wallpapers, tiles and fabrics. "It was great fun and I just wish I could have had longer," she smiles.


Mary and her husband Steve Grubb decided they must buy a home in England when their eldest son Ben (now 8) asked why he had to be Chinese, if his mother was Irish and his father English. "It made us think it was time to put down roots," says Mary. "Especially as by then Jamie (now 5) had arrived and we had been living in the Far East for ten years."


So the couple (from afar) searched the internet for a suitable house in the Cotswolds, an area they had always loved. Then Steve came over on a business trip and managed to view a selection. He knew immediately that The Old Dairy was the one they were looking for. And when Mary came over to see what they had bought she agreed. "The sitting room was unusually big and square," she says. "This is because the Old Dairy began as a 17th century barn. It stood on land once owned by Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII and was only converted to a dwelling in 1948. Apparently cows were kept in the lower part with a hayloft above and there were still picturesque old beams, mullioned windows and a milestone in the back garden. The front of the cottage was picture perfect too."


The couple then sold their flat in Solihull and with the help of local architect Robin Fell they planned the refurbishments.


"First we gutted the whole house," says Mary. "There seemed to be woodchip paper everywhere as nothing seemed to have changed since the 1960s. We also got rid of the unattractive secondary glazing and the green metal French windows in the sitting room, replacing them with ones of oak."


Then as they wanted to turn the L-shaped kitchen into a square this meant building on another 64 square feet. "We also laid a damp proof course, put in new gas-fired central heating, rewired, replastered and replumbed," says Mary. "We put in a new oak staircase and removed the wall that enclosed it, replacing it with banisters to create more light in the hallway. We put in new floors, new bathroom furniture and changed all the internal doors and skirting boards for ones of oak." All this was achieved from some 7000 miles away!


"We employed a builder who told us upfront he considered himself a craftsman not a jobbing builder so he liked to take his time," laughs Mary. "Luckily that didn't matter as we weren't living there."


Among the more decorative touches they added were the old railway sleeper they put in as a lintel above the stone fireplace in the sitting room (" replacing an inappropriate one of polished teak"), having a new oak front door made and laying a patio.


It took six months to finish the work during which Mary was able to plan the furnishings and decoration, still by internet as the family was still in Singapore. "We kept the kitchen units and my father-in-law very kindly repainted them," she says. "It was just a case of installing new appliances and retiling in there. Luckily Steve's sister has an interior design business in Alcester and she was an enormous help when it came to making the curtains and blinds and other soft furnishings. She would send out swatches for me to choose. All the windows seemed to be awkward shapes and sizes or present a problematic old beam but we succeeded in the end."


Then when Mary had pretty much decided what furniture she wanted she flew over to England and had her 48 hour shopping spree in which she sped from shop to store to outlet. "I wanted a clean but rustic look," says Mary. "But what dictated the entire decor was the Osborne & Little wallpaper I spotted and which is now on the feature wall in the sitting room. I loved it because I was looking for something in mink tones and it set the stage for the rest of the decor."


"Our two boys love it here," says Mary."Even though they had a swimming pool, playroom and playground in Singapore they still prefer this sleepy village. For children who have grown up in the Far East just going for a walk along the Cotswolds Way is a voyage of discovery with cows, sheep, fallen trees, streams and even cow pats - much better than any playground! Then going home to the rustic warmth of The Old Dairy with a log fire and a good natter around the huge kitchen table is bliss - I guess we just need a nice dog now to make it perfect. "


Because Steve's job means the family still have to travel from time to time The Old Dairy is available for holiday lets. Tel: 01386 858147 for details or try websites gill@cotswoldholiday.com or www.cotswoldholiday.com

0 comments

More from Homes & Gardens

Christmas in the Wilson household is a heartwarming, traditional family affair

Read more

From 1970s horror to 21st-century chic, Sami and Kate Attia have transformed their beautiful Regency apartment in the city of Bath

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Property prices across Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds have risen steadily over the last few years, reflecting the trend across the country. But which area has shown the most dramatic hike in prices recently, and how does your postcode and house type compare with others in the area? You may be surprised to see the results...

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

From mini Norway spruces to luxury Nordman firs, here are eight of the best places to get a luscious, green tree in the Cotswolds this festive season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

After a new home in the Cotswolds or looking to relocate within the region? We bring you 16 of the best housing developments in the area

Read more

Neil and Alison Smith wanted a project, but then their old coach house began to reveal its interesting little glitches

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

When your wood flooring is in need of TLC, help is at hand, says Scarlett Harris of ATC in Cheltenham

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

Martin Smart, a director at Shipston-based Hayward Smart Architects, extols the value of appointing an architect

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

We look through the keyhole of some of the Cotswolds’ most luxurious houses on the property market

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more

Sometimes it can seem like destiny plays a hand at where we end up living, as Fiona and John Owen discovered when they found their dream converted chapel in Chalford

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more

Water voles and trench warfare were just two of the problems faced by the family renovating a 1720s hunting lodge

Read more

The small, dark rooms of this 1850s cottage near Tetbury were completely reconfigured to open up the space

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search