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When Debbie Ball first saw her home she instantly fell in love with it, and it was big enough to house her vast collection of china too.

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Space for the china

When Debbie Ball first saw her home she instantly fell in love with it, and it was big enough to house her vast collection of china too.

Stopping for lunch in a pub in a little village near Stratford-upon-Avon resulted in a life-change for the Ball family. I felt so at home in the village that I announced I wanted to live there, says Debbie Ball. So I started looking in the local papers for houses for sale which is how we came to see this one.
Their Grade II listed home is like a Georgian dolls house as it is double-fronted with the front door in the middle. And as soon as Debbie stepped inside she knew she had found her future home. I loved it on sight, she says. Ive never felt like that before about other houses. Even though the decor was stuck in the 1980s and the kitchen was a flat-roofed extension with a leaking conservatory I could see past all that.
There were still some beautiful period features in place such as the marble fireplace in the drawing room, high skirting boards, six-panelled doors and even the original blown glass in some of the latticed windows. There was also a cellar which John ear-marked for his wine collection.
So just over seven years ago the Ball family Debbie, her husband John and their three (now) grown-up children Charlotte, Adrian and Ollie moved into the six bedroom house which includes a two bedroom annexe that Adrian has now taken over.
The family knew part of the annexe roof needed repairing and that the kitchen, with its 60-year-old Aga, needed refurbishing. They were fine about replacing the guttering and a rotten bay window and redecorating throughout. But they were somewhat surprised by what they found in the cellar. We had an idea it might be damp so we put on our wellies and ventured down there only to find the water had risen high enough to slop into our boots. The pump had broken so that had to be fixed quickly,
says Debbie.
After buying a new four-door Aga and repairing the conservatory the couple still felt dissatisfied with the flat roofed extension. It was still leaking and had definitely reached its sell-by date, says Debbie. But what clinched it was that my two sons are both six-foot tall rugby-players and when they brought their friends home we were all so jammed together in the kitchen it felt as if we were on the Tube. I also felt a mite worried about my collections of china with these big strong lads around. So last year we had an architect design a larger, and more attractive, kitchen-dining area and had the old kitchen and conservatory demolished.
It took five months for the building work to be done and to have the new kitchen installed but luckily the family could manage by using the annexe kitchen. The dining room was full of kitchen equipment and our precious new Aga was swathed in waterproof wrappings while the back part of the house came off, says Debbie. Of course we had to pick a very wet summer! But it was all worth it in the end for the wonderful large and light room weve got in its place.
First they had underfloor heating installed and a floor of polished limestone laid above. Then Debbie chose a local kitchen company called Barn & Brook to install handmade units painted in cream and duck egg blue with oak worktops and an island topped with granite.
We live in this room now, says Debbie. The only time we use the dining room is at Christmas. We wanted a proper cooks kitchen as both John and I love cooking and thats exactly what weve got.
A local lighting company Lightmaster Direct designed the lighting system which can change the mood of the room. When it came to furnishing the house the family had a wealth to choose from. Weve pretty nearly always lived in period properties so have always collected antique furniture, says Debbie. But we also spent some years in Italy and have brought some treasures back from there too such as the Italian desk and Italian lights in the Drawing Room. And, of course, some hand-painted Italian ceramics.
Debbie loves china and pottery and is surrounded by her colourful collections, most notably from Bell Pottery, Emma Bridgewater and Nicholas Mosse of Ireland. We are not sharp-edged contemporary people and love the rustic look which explains the design of chickens, hares and sheep on so many of my mugs, plates, jugs and bowls, she says. I like old pieces too and have found many over the years from junk shops and antique fairs, none of them expensive.
Despite the age of the house none of the family feel there is a ghost around and no one minds going to bed alone here. Its because our house has such a pleasant atmosphere, says Debbie. What appealed to us so much was the spacious hall and the beautiful proportions. Its also very much a family home with enough space for us all and to entertain our friends as well.


Local Contact Book


Barn & Brook Kitchens
Tel: 01608 666994


Busy Needle
Tel: 01869 350436


Cologne & Cotton
74 Regent Street, Royal Leamington Spa CV32 4NS; Tel: 01926 339880.


Flora's of Shipston on Stour
30 Sheep Street, Shipston on Stour CV36 4AF. Tel: 01608 662823


Hayward Bathrooms
50-51 Broad Street, Banbury OX16 5BT. Tel: 01295 263820


Lightmaster Direct
Blackwell Business Park, Shipston on Stour CV36 4PE. Tel: 01608 682115.


Scotts Decorators
Unit 5, Wharf Road, Avon Industrial Estate, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 0AD. Tel: 01789 292171.


Quiet Woman Antiques Centre
Southcombe, Chipping Norton OX7 5QH.Tel: 01608 646262.

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