Friday, 15 January 2021

Real Home Feature, 'Under the Autumn Sun'



Sarah Colgan discovered the house of her dreams by chance and lovingly reinvented it into a perfect family home in the heart of Somerset.  A chance encounter and a passion for restoring period properties sparked Sarah and her husband to reinvent a dated farmhouse into their perfect family home.

Picture postcard 19th Century Somerset farmhouse

   Sarah and her husband carried out major renovation works on their farmhouse in Somerset. They redesigned the layout to include a new main entrance, built a new porch, hallway, kitchen, snug, 3 bathrooms and cloakroom. 

Somerset Photography by Jo Sheldrake

A 'Purfect' playground for Jess

Jess enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

    It was purely by chance, whilst exploring the local countryside that Sarah spotted a farmhouse in the distance, nestled within a wooded valley. ' I knew instantly we had found a hidden gem,' recalls Sarah,' I remember mentioning how i'd love to live there.' It was some months later, whilst browsing online, that Sarah noticed the house was for sale. Seizing the opportunity, they made an offer and it wasn't long before the whole family moved in during the autumn of 2014.
    The converted farmhouse sits within a magical rolling landscape with over two acres of gardens and far reaching views across the Somerset levels. Although picturesque on the outside, the properties decor was dated. Over the years the farmhouse had been extended into adjacent farm outbuildings, part of which were used as a B&B. Having successfully renovated their previous homes, Sarah decided to live in the new house for 6 months before making any changes. 

The new entrance and porch with its sweeping steps has transformed the south elevation of the house.

    With planning applications approved, work began in the spring. Sarah meticulously managed the entire project, enjoying gathering ideas from magazines to create mood boards to work from. The first task was to replace the old asbestos cement and clay Roman roof tiles. However, no sooner had the roofing and asbestos contractors started, work came to a halt for 6 weeks when bats were found in the attic. 'The last thing I wanted to hear was how excited the conservationist was identifying several protected species. The roof had to be adapted for roosting bats. The recommendations included an access gap and special felt which hadn't been factored into the original plans or budget,' recalls Sarah.
    The plumbing and electrics needed urgent attention and involved major work and manpower. The heating system was some 30 years old, inefficient and continuously running, so a significant part of the budget was spent installing a new system. 'It was disruptive and we often had 6 plumbers on site, ripping out metres of old copper pipe,' recalls Sarah.' Finally, after 2 weeks of chaos and 23 radiators were in place and the family could at last enjoy a warm home.

The family sitting room was formerly a dining room. Sarah made a feature of the bay window by having a window seat custom made. 'It's a great place to sit on a Sunday afternoon by the warmth of the fire, looking out over the gardens and beyond,' says Sarah

The pretty scatter cushions are covered in Tulip and Roses fabric from Cabbages and Roses.The original wooden parquet floor was exposed when the carpet was taken up. Having sanded it back Sarah made the bold decision to stain it in a dark colour, Pale Wenge by Mylands of London. 

'I love the effect of a dark floor as it anchors the furniture and design of the room,' says Sarah, 'and balances beautifully the simple natural edged seagrass rug boucle from Clifton Design Flooring.

    The next stage of the renovation was to redesign a new kitchen in a different room of the house. The original kitchen was in a small north facing room which was cold and dark. Sarah felt this room would work better as an office. 

Once again Sarah's choice of colour, textures and furniture blend together perfectly to create a stylish, calm and beautiful new room. The natural hand finished rug bought from Roger Oates compliments the grey stone floor.

The comfortable and cosy snug, sits on the right of the new entrance hall, formerly a second kitchen. the walls are painted in Old White from Farrow and Ball and a grey limestone floor from Mandarin Stone replaced tired carpet and lino. Sarah reupholstered the antique footstool using a Bulgarian hemp grain sack she found at a flea market. 'Repositioning the kitchen and adding a snug to the new entrance was more practical for us as a family,' says Sarah, 'I envisaged a simple and unfitted kitchen, full of interest colour and textures, overlooking the south facing gardens and views beyond.

The central island unit is balanced by the rise and fall pendant light from The French House. 

'I love finding simple statement pieces of furniture old and new that are not only practical and stylish but help bring everything together.'

Natural flagstones were laid throughout the new kitchen 

    Hanging over the dining room table is a large antique, crystal and glass chandelier ( from Ornate Gilt Mirrors in Wells Somerset) which looks magical when candlelit. An original Victorian bevelled glass mirror ( from Ornate Gilt Mirrors in Wells, Somerset) hangs above the Charnwood stove. Recycled church pews sit alongside a pine table with painted black legs.
    The new design included a complete renovation of 3 bathrooms, cloakroom and traditional wooden sash windows replaced old casement windows.  Sarah made a bold decision to sand and stain the floorboards black throughout the new sitting room, master bedroom and dining room. 'I wanted to be honest to the fabric, structure and age of this property, trusting my judgement and only using quality materials and workmanship to which reflects its rural surroundings,' says Sarah

The fireplaces in the dining room and snug were stripped back to expose brickwork and stylish Charnwood stoves replaced dated gas heating appliances. 

The master bedroom is given a touch of glamour with a french chandelier and the oval mirror from Ornate Gilt Mirrors in Somerset and a gold nursing chair from Clifton Village Antiques. The iron bed was bought from Feather and Black. Another one of Sarah's thrifty purchases was a traditional Welsh blanket which lays across the bed. Sarah reupholstered the ottoman using french vintage cotton ticking.

Sarah chose natural fibre and sea grass to replace the tired patterned carpet. 

The 100% cotton voile drapes which soften the lines of the four-poster bed are from Ikea.

The bathroom is enhanced by tongue and groove panelling creating a traditional effect. Farrow & Ball whites were used to paint throughout. A perfect backdrop for the vintage dark wooden mirror and the charming pedestal sink. All the sanitary ware is from Burlington in Bristol.

    When it came to painting the interior, Sarah chose Farrow & Ball's Wimborne White and Off White throughout. Although they were bringing a lot of furniture from their previous house, Sarah enjoys searching for bargains online, at flea markets and antique fairs. Characteristically, repurposing new and old pieces of furniture to create a unique, uncluttered and stylish look. Sarah loves the creative process of transforming a property into a wonderful, comfortable place to live. 'This is a house for all seasons and we are so happy here,' says Sarah, during the summer we throw open the doors and live outside, breakfast on the lawn and dinner under the stars. Winter is a time to hunker down by the fire watching films. However , it's during the autumn months that the house sparkles when the golden afternoon sunlight streams through the windows. We are so lucky to be surrounded by the spectacular wooded landscape especially our Swamp Cypress which changes from green into an amazing , rich russet brown colour.'

Sarah has created something unrecognisable from the house that she first spotted on their walk. 'I think my family agree that this is a perfect family home for us.'


Pete Bilder ( Builder ) 07850 787532
Lambrook Pine, Glastonbury 01458 833397
Span Roofing Contractors 01934 628445
Design Flooring Ltd 0117 942 6189
Mandarin Stone 0117 973 1552
Farrow&Ball 01202 876141
Mylands Paints 0208 670 9161
Cabbages & Roses 0203 696 1310
The French House 0207 859 4939
Johnstons of Elgin 03442 252 252
Feather and Black 01243 380 600

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Somerset Splendour as seen in 25 Beautiful Homes Magazine 2018

Sarah Bailey showcases her passion for Interior Design by blending the best features of a historic Georgian property with modern style and comforts to create a stunning family home.

Finding the right house in the perfect location is all about timing, as Sarah Bailey discovered in the summer of 2015, when a local agent found her the perfect centrally based property in the  city. This historic building, formerly used as offices and in a neglected state , was in the process of being renovated. Sarah could see past the building site and her interest sparked. Drawn to the classical Georgian architecture, with its elegant facade and stylish symmetrical simplicity.   ‘I fell in love with this house immediately,’ says Sarah, ‘particularly the long sweep of the entrance hallway leading to a beautiful, staircase with its winding handrail and light flooding down into the whole house through a light well. The rooms were spacious and well proportioned with original features and ample off street parking. With the location, space, garden and parking boxes ticked, Sarah could see the potential and once restored, she could lovingly create/turn it into a stunning family home to share with her two daughters, Morgan and Freya.

It felt like a lifetime waiting for the sale to complete and they moved in ten days before Christmas! Sarah hadn’t even made a start on her Christmas shopping as she wanted the move to be as light as possible. ‘It was all hands on deck buying and wrapping presents, creating a cosy family home to host dinner for twenty five on Christmas Day.’ The exciting vision of her beautiful Georgian home complete with 3 huge Christmas trees became a reality.

Sarah, runs her own interior design business in Bristol. Her creative flair and passion for beautiful furniture and furnishings is evident throughout her home.  She has effectively blended the property’s classical style influences with relaxed and cosy living areas. It works well as a transitional space between the grand Palladian facade and the stunning interior which showcases Sarah’s passion for Interior Design.

Sarah, runs her own interior design business in Bristol. Her creative flair and passion f
From the outset, Sarah’s financial constraints were her biggest frustration but she is a great believer that with patience, imagination and creativity you can transform anything within reason and budget. ‘ I am a perfectionist and wanted to create a perfect home,’ says Sarah, ‘this is a very large, 4 storey home and needed a lot of furniture to make it feel complete and homely.’ 

The large drawing room is has two zones, a relaxing one with the fireplace has the focal point and a dining area with a large extendable table seating. Sarah has reupholstered her chateau style dining chairs using brightly colored damask material. This adds a stunning pop of colour and compliments/blends in with the walls. Sarah chose a floral damask wallpaper from the Anna French, Seraphina collection inspired by a English gardener for the dining and drawing room.  ‘The rooms are large and we got through a lot of wallpaper!’ says Sarah, ‘I wanted to wallpaper all the walls rather than just a feature wall and this subtle, floral design doesn’t overpower the rooms. The soft yellow colour in the drawing room is a perfect compliment to the wooden floors.   Readapting the rooms started with the kitchen which was in a  country kitchen style.  She personalized the oak cupboards by painting them pale grey and replaced the small dark handles with large silver knob handles.  To create a contemporary sophisticated look a white stone worktop replaced the busy worktop. Sarah created a breakfast bar by replacing the original worktop on the island with an oversized one.  The overhang now accommodates seating for up to six people and the industrial stainless steel stools add a touch of urban chic to the room. The floor was initially painted in the same dramatic dark colour as the master bedroom but Sarah found it quite dark. ‘It’s at the bottom of the house and doesn’t get any direct sunlight, so I repainted the floor boards to a bright white and this transformed the space making it feel really light and airy,’ says Sarah

Choosing the right lighting transforms the mood and ambience of a room and Sarah’s love of grand chandeliers with a modern twist enhance each room. She is also a big fan of using feature mirrors wherever possible to create more light. She had to wait nearly a year for the stair runner but luckily her friends at Tailored Flooring made her an offer on her beautiful stair runner that she couldn’t refuse. It was the final touch to making the house feel really homely. ‘The look is very much about light, colour and texture,’ say Sarah

‘I have been involved in property all my life but this property was a real aspirational buy me,’ says Sarah, ‘ We are blessed living in a such a grand and beautiful historic house.’  Now lovingly restored into a warm and cosy home, makes her and her family now think of it as any normal home.'


 Kitchen: Sarah has personalised the traditional kitchen by painting the cupboards and adding polished chrome round knobs and cup handles for a more contemporary look. The kitchen is from Neptune range and painted in Dry Barley £66 for 5 Litres Conran, Terrano Adjustable Stool £219 SJP Interiors

Breakfast Room: Large, elegant, glass Chandeliers can totally transform a room, a classic choice making a big impression and compliment the period features of this room. Wallpaper is from the Seraphina Collection, Verey - Grey, £52 per roll. Anna French. The Mariah 14 arm black glass Chandelier, £795 Alexander & Pearl, is similar.  Elm Parquet Top Round Dining Table , £1418, Bedsite is similar.

Drawing room: Sarah has chosen yellow which compliments the touches of grey in this spacious light filled room. The wall paper from the Seraphina Collection, Verey- Citron £52 per roll  Anna French. Bespoke sofas from Andrew Martin 

Guest Bedroom: Sarah has used antique pine furniture and some contemporary pieces to create the perfect blend of old and new. Original King Size Vintage Sleigh Bed, £895, French Finds Lts are similar, Chateau armchair £399 SJP Interiors. Scatter Cushions, from £25, John Lewis


Master BedroomThe floorboards, skirting and fireplace have been painted in a deep hue to contrast the pale grey walls for a dramatic effect. Floor painted in  Studio Green £110 per 5 Litres and the walls Dry Barley, £66 per 5 Litres, Conran. Super King Button Bed, £959, SJP Interiors.  Mimi Bedside Table, £225, Loaf is similar

Bathroom: The freestanding Tub adds a luxurious touch, while the marble tiles are practical and durable or The Freestanding tub offers a bath with view perfectly positioned next to large Georgian sash windows. Landmark Bath in Gun Metal Grey, £2499, Bathstore. Walls are painted in Purbeck Stone, £78 for 5 Litres, Farrow & Ball. 


  • SJP Interior Design 0117 973 0880
  • Conran paints 0344 848 4000
  • Anna French 0207 737 6555
  • Andrew Martin 0207 225 5100
  • Neptune
  • Tailored flooring 0117 973 3393
  • Alexander & Pearl 0208 508 0411
  • Bathstore 0330 053 5661
  • Bedsite 0161 639 0994
  • Wayfair 0800 1690423
  • Farrow & Ball 01202 876141
  • John Lewis 0345 604 9049
  • Frenchfinds 01270 842445

 Words and Photos by Jo Sheldrake for 25 Beautiful Homes Magazine 2018