In contrast to last week’s colourful London townhouse, this week we are heading to the Yorkshire Dales to a remote farmhouse billed as being perfect for anyone who fancies living off-grid. And, given the way things are going I can see that might be increasingly attractive. A recent Grand Design episode followed the build of a young couple who were also working towards exactly that raising animals on a small-holding, growing all their own food and earning money by hosting supper clubs to use the food they couldn’t eat themselves. In the rolling Somerset hills it certainly looks idyllic.
This house would allow you to tap into all that without the agony of the build first. And actually, if you did want a bit more to do there is an annex which is currently partially converted with permission to create two bedrooms, a study and shower on the ground floor and a sitting room, dining room and kitchen above. So you could gather income that way.
The house, which is on the market with Dacres, is set in one acre of land accessible down a 1.5 mile long track that is only usable with a 4X4 drive.
Water comes from a spring in the hillside which is filtered and passed through a UV tube (me neither). The Aga is fuelled by lPG 50kg bottles collected when required (subject to a service contract agreement which the ingoing purchaser will need to agree), and the central heating is a mix of oil boiler, back boilers from two multi fuel stoves and the wind turbine heating supply.
The electricity comes from a 60ft wind turbine and small water turbine and is stored in a battery bank. The wind turbine charges the batteries so there is hot water and electric heating. A septic tank provides drainage although they were installed in the 1980s and have not been tested or checked since. The agent says the wind and water turbines will need recommissioning and updating.
So to the inside. At first glance I rather love the green sofa and plum coffee table, echoing what must surely be heather-covered hills outside. On second glance though it’s the old space thing. The table is invitingly laid for a game of chess but it’s impossible to reach from anywhere in the room. And it’s a big room. Bringing the chairs closer all around would leave space to walk behind and not interrupt conversations or moves. Psychologically you would also feel the space was bigger as you would be able to move freely round the back of the furniture rather than scooting through the middle of a chat.
Now this is also quite an open plan space. Of course you can leave it white and light as it is but if you wanted to zone it a little there are various tricks you can do. Firstly, you can paint the inside of the opening in a contrasting colour and either do the one to the kitchen the same or a paler version. You could paint the middle room between this sitting room and the kitchen in a darker colour to create a snug tv area. What I wouldn’t do is leave those two seats – pink and cream under the dividing line like that – they look like they are trying to join the conversation but aren’t close enough to hear properly. We need say nothing about rug island.
What is good, however, is the continuation of the green from the sofa to the dining room. And see how the owners have dealt with the tricky issue of the sloping ceiling/wall. I have been asked so many times where to change colours and my answer is always to go all the way.
Upstairs, as is often the way in these cottages, the windows aren’t large. You can leave them in traditional white or, as we discussed on the latest episode of the podcast, make them dark to draw the eye to the fabulous views beyond.
Note also the charming grouping of pictures round the bed. We spoke about using art to zone open plan spaces last week and while it doesn’t need to do that here, each picture on its own would be too small to hold the wall so by creating a group of mismatching pictures and shapes the total is greater than the sum of its parts.
So, anyone ready for the good life? Who’s playing Margot?