This was a 1960s pre-fab eyesore, now look at it

PUBLISHED: 14:34 03 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:50 20 February 2013

Eight years of hard work have transformed a very unpromising 1960s 'horror' near Shipston-on-Stour into a beautiful Cotswold stone house

Eight years of hard work have transformed a very unpromising 1960s 'horror' near Shipston-on-Stour into a beautiful Cotswold stone house

Eight years of hard work have transformed a very unpromising 1960s 'horror' near Shipston-on-Stour into a beautiful Cotswold stone house. Victoria Jenkins reports. Photographs by Nicholas Yarsley.

Eight years of hard work have transformed a very unpromising 1960s 'horror' near Shipston-on-Stour into a beautiful Cotswold stone house. Victoria Jenkins reports. Photographs by Nicholas Yarsley.


Their business began in a country barn and they worked to the sound of a babbling brook outside its doors. So the furniture company of Barn & Brook was born, owned and run by Craig Forster and his partner Sonia Davies. Now they have left behind both barn and brook to open a thriving factory near Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire.

But with the same hard work that they put into their business they have put into their home which at first sight, eight years ago, looked most unpromising.

"It was a complete eyesore," says Sonia. "It had arrived in 1968 as a timber-framed flat pack on the back of a lorry and was put up on the site of a pigsty in front of a rather beautiful old farmhouse."

It had all the 1960s horrors too being clad in faded vertical red cedar outside and with an olive-coloured bathroom, lurid wallpaper and white shagpile carpets inside.

"It had been rented out for a long time and was fairly neglected, then had languished on the market for two years as it was so ugly," says Sonia.

"No-one quite knew what to do with it as everything seemed to be rotting including the window frames. It resembled a school class room and even the local council said they had no idea what to suggest so left it up to us."

Craig hated it but Sonia felt she could do something with it as she loved its walled garden and amazing views over the Ilmington Hills. So in 2000 they bought it and moved in with Sonia's daughter Hanna (20), their own daughter Ella (10) and pets Jake the rescue cross basset-labrador and Trevor the cat.

"The house was looking the wrong way so we've turned it round to make the most of the light and the landscape," Craig says. "First we gutted it by knocking down half the interior walls then we surrounded the ugly exterior walls with Cotswold stone and larch cladding to disguise it. Our team made all the doors and window frames in oak and then we had tinted green glass windows put in."

The house had four bedrooms and a flat-roofed single storey extension. It still does have four bedrooms but the couple knocked down then rebuilt the extension and added a master bedroom above it. Another bedroom became a bathroom, giving them three.

"The downstairs part is now our Music Room where I play the cello, Ella plays the cello and flute and Hanna plays the guitar and piano," says Sonia. "We also converted a carport into a hall, cloakroom and utility room, laid new flooring and installed a new kitchen and new bathrooms."

The couple were able to get much of the interior work done by their team who not only made and installed the new kitchen of oak and high gloss white acrylic units but built much of the handmade furniture and panelling as well throughout the house.

"I chose polished black granite worktops and a Brandt oven, a Fago induction hob with Caple hood and a Franke stainless steel undermounted sink, a Miele dishwasher and an Amana fridge freezer," says Sonia. "The fridge-freezer has removable panels so you change them to match your kitchen."

Craig's favourite room is their Home Cinema Room .

"I don't like having a TV on show so we press a button and a screen descends," says Sonia. "Quite often some of the village come in to watch a movie and when a couple were on Location, Location, Location recently we had about 20 crammed in to watch."

It is in here that the team made cantilevered French windows which fold completely back on themselves and open onto the garden. "And when we had a party recently we put up a marquee and had the garden illuminated."

She finishes: "We love the open-plan layout and large reception rooms - it means there is so much space both for family life and for entertaining large groups of friends and family."

Barn & Brook 01608 666994 www.barnandbrook.co.uk

Sonia and Craig are planning to move and the house is up for sale through Peter Clarke 01789 415444

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