The renovation of an inspirational literary burrow

From family hustle to grown-up conviviality; a Cotswolds property reimagined

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Sawrey House is a charming Georgian property. Perfectly proportioned, it sits front and centre of a quintessential Cotswolds village.

Having borne witness to twenty years of busy family life, the house had been carrying all of the precious hallmarks of relentless use! Its would-be breakfast room had been taken over by a wonderfully enthusiastic Labrador (who had persistently chewed the space into submission). The kitchen and living rooms showed the wear and tear of its ocupants' childhood and teenage years! Now, with their children busy tending to their own lives and homes and a dog-friendly lounge at the far end of the kitchen, our clients could reclaim their space and make plans for its grown-up incarnation.

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Since handing over the reins of her educational theatre company, our client Jenny has taken on the weighty role of Chipping Norton Literary Festival Director. ChipLitFest is held in April each year, brought about through a dedicated team of volunteers who devote countless hours to bringing literature to life for the community. Her husband Simon’s work as a comedy writer also takes place mainly from home, making the feel and functionality of their spaces all the more important. Both hugely creative, Jenny and Simon's home is, unsurprisingly, bursting with books and objects of interest, collected over the years and bringing personality to their already richly characterful home.

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The renovation works at Sawrey House involved a complete ground floor overhaul, stripping back a 1980s stone extension, replacing plumbing, heating and electrics, and rebuilding the space with enlarged and reconfigured openings. A large steel lintel provided the backbone to support two large sets of Crittall-style French doors opening onto a pretty walled garden. Bespoke kitchen and boot room cabinetry are hand-painted in the dusky hues of Farrow & Ball Hague Blue and De Nimes, complimented by the Farrow & Ball Sky Blue apertures and Light Blue to the existing joinery within. Tumbled limestone floor tiles (with a new underfloor heating system beneath) run through the open-plan kitchen space into the newly instated breakfast/dining room, resulting in a strong visual transition and natural flow.

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Happily, elements of reuse were organically woven into the project. The team moved the much-loved wall-to-wall shelving unit from the dining room to the snug, freeing up space for a vintage dresser and providing a new home for a portion of the household's huge book collection. Similarly, an antique pine kitchen dresser, which had been previously 'on the tilt', was carefully scribed to sit proudly upright in its newly renovated space. Every original feature was retained, repaired or refinished, staying true to the property’s heritage. On arrival at Sawrey House, the newly hand-painted front door (also Farrow & Ball Hague Blue) opens to reveal a wonderful striped stair runner (Rock 'n' Roll by Alternative Flooring) flanked on either side by original floorboards painted in Farrow & Ball's gorgeously rich Wine Dark. Antique brass lighting and ironmongery throughout take their inspiration from the property’s original brass fixings and fittings.

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“The most transformational part of the renovation is our dining-breakfast room. It used to be a glorified corridor and now it is a delightfully bright and much-used space.”
Jenny, Barr Build DTC Client
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