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A look inside a converted farm building in Wokingham

PUBLISHED: 15:08 20 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:08 20 December 2016

Jo Sutton at the double oak doors of The Granary

Jo Sutton at the double oak doors of The Granary

Maureen McLean

Living in a beautifully converted farm building is a dream for many, but sometimes the urge to discover more takes over

Wanderlust has defined the life of one Wokingham family as their desire for new adventures has taken them across the planet – and often round it – and now the travel bug has bitten the Suttons again.

Dietician Jo met Stuart, her future husband, in her native Australia and since then they’ve lived there, in this country, been off to America, fitted in New Zealand, returned here, visited Africa and spent the last few years in their beautiful Berkshire home.

Along the way there’s been the arrival of daughter Lily, now eight, and now the family wants to see even more of the world. But expanding horizons means they must say farewell to a fantastic home – a Grade II Listed converted and extended former granary on what was once part of a farm. The sympathetic extension was added some 35 years ago.

That lovely AGA– keeping things cosy at the centre of the houseThat lovely AGA– keeping things cosy at the centre of the house

As well as the spacious property there’s an indoor pool house with something of a surprise above it – which we will come to – but we can start with how Jo has added her own touches and style to a home where much of the building is over 300 years old.

It probably helps that she grew up on a huge working farm in Australia, so space is nothing new. We’re talking high ceilings, numerous beams throughout, the intriguing quirks of a home which celebrates its past life. For instance, part of an upright wooden ladder fixed to a wall and once climbed by the nimble granary workers is obviously no longer in use but still has a spot downstairs, passing through the ceiling to emerge as a wall feature in what is Lily’s bedroom. Then there’s the inglenook fireplaces, and gallery area upstairs, currently used as a bedroom.

The trick is getting that mix of warmth and light, and matching modern desires and home comforts to the historic backdrop. Jo reveals that key to all this was starting with the interior walls: “I must have had 100 different swatches of ‘white’ lined up on a practice wall at one time. Who knew there were so many whites?”

The beams and features of the home’s past use feature throughout the propertyThe beams and features of the home’s past use feature throughout the property

She’s right, a home like this cannot take ultra gleaming white – you need a warming white without ‘yellowing’ and one which looks subdued but not ‘dirty white’. Eventually she found it and the result is a finish that compliments the property while providing superb ‘gallery space’ for the likes of art and mirrors. But back to the kitchen and here the farm influence is very strong. It’s of decent size because a spectacular light-filled garden / breakfast room leads off, with a long wall which the Suttons have used for a library-style run of floor to ceiling bookcases. At the rear of the kitchen stands Jo’s ‘best friend’ – a red four door AGA, although she wasn’t sure about how the relationship would go when they first became acquainted: “When I first saw it there were a few nerves, but now I’d recommend an AGA to anyone.”

For much of the year – and much of our weather regardless of season – the gentle round-the-clock background cosiness provided by the AGA means you can be comfortable without additional heating in the core of the house, something the globe-trotting Suttons have really appreciated.

Jo clearly has a good eye for highlighting the home’s features, particularly mixing those ‘go big’ moments with little touches. For instance, drapes are bold and sumptuous, making the most of floor to high ceiling effects and those unique walls, while casually co-ordinated soft furnishings, ‘pretties’ and accessories provide a delicate warmth big space requires.

The pool, with a winding staircase taking you to a galleryThe pool, with a winding staircase taking you to a gallery

We mentioned that surprise above the pool house, which stands on the left-hand side of a mature and secluded walled garden complete with trees and beautiful borders. Above the pool complex is your very own pub of sorts, and additional studio space over a double garage. We say pub because there’s a snooker table, darts area and even a fridge for keeping the drinks cool.

Cheers! There’s no doubt this house will provide a superb family home and Jo is hoping its next occupants will enjoy its unique attractions as much as the Suttons have.


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