A 16th-century farmhouse in Surrey packed with charm

Enchanted by its idyllic setting, Louise Jones could see the merits of this 16th-century Surrey farmhouse despite its interior having been stripped of any character. With ingenuity and hard work, and the introduction of pattern and colour, she has given it personality in abundance

Next to the kitchen – and divided from it by a huge double-sided chimney breast – is the sitting room, with a fireplace as generous as that of the kitchen. Beyond this is the third ground-floor room, which is now the dining room. ‘The old brick flooring runs through all these rooms, but was hidden under the carpet,’ explains Louise, ‘I cleaned every inch of it myself. At one stage, I hired an industrial machine, but it didn’t work as well. So I spent the weekends on my hands and knees, scrubbing like Cinderella.’ There was no fairy godmother to help, but Louise insists she is ‘quite happy cleaning’. Her efforts have resulted in as big a transformation as relocating the kitchen. The effect of the handmade bricks, with their variations in colour and pitted surfaces worn smooth by generations of feet, provides a huge boost to the character of the farmhouse, which had been so thoroughly erased.

The flat plaster – another character killer – has been ‘roughed up a bit’ and the modern, double-glazed windows have been painted in sympathetic colours and enhanced with forged-iron fittings from Jim Lawrence. Furnishings are a mix of early English, such as the 16th-century dining table Louise picked up for a song at auction, and 18th-century country pieces. These include a handsome Cumbrian oak sideboard she has converted to hold the double basins in the main bathroom and a walnut oyster veneer chest-on-stand in the sitting room. Her love of Arts and Crafts is evident in the CFA Voysey wallpaper that brightens the downstairs loo and a wonderful William De Morgan pot in the back hall.

Walls in Papers and Paints’ ‘Mineral Red’ by specialist decorator Scott Davis – who was responsible for the painting and paper hanging throughout – set off a painted antique Swiss armoire and Delft plates below a 20th-century Châteauneuf-du-Pape grape hod.

Alexander James

The study of Louise’s partner David is a small room on the first floor, its tartan carpet a nod to his Scottish heritage. Louise has an office in London, but often spreads her plans and sketches across the dining room table when she is not travelling to work on one of her many projects. ‘When we first moved in, some neighbours came round and asked if we were “country people”,’ she recalls. ‘I could honestly say that we are – I was brought up in Lancashire with dogs and ponies. We keep three horses here and have two lurchers, Dodo and Dita. Any spare time is spent working on the garden.’ And slowly but surely, the fairy dust is settling on that too.

Fairfax Jones: fairfaxjones.com