Convert your life into a country idyll with renovation
LEAVE Henley from Market Place via Gravel Hill and you will soon find yourself in the pretty village of Peppard
LEAVE Henley from Market Place via Gravel Hill and you will soon find yourself in the pretty village of Peppard Common, with its characteristic open common surrounded by a pretty church, primary school, pub, restaurant and houses — one of which is this attractive agricultural-building conversion.
Peppard Barn is home to Emma and Matthew Costello, both 39, and their young family.
“The building was originally attached to Peppard Farm, and was used to house the animals grazing on the common,” said Mrs Costello.
“A local man developed it back in the Eighties — he did a great job considering it was a one-man job. He and his family lived in it until we moved in three years ago.”
The Costellos have carried out many improvements of their own and are keen to point out that they have worked ‘with’ the property.
Mrs Costello added: “It appears on the earliest map of the area and has always been a part of the community. Even after it stopped being used for animals, it became a mechanic’s workshop, so we wanted to keep as much of the old character as possible when we renovated. We didn’t want to just ‘rip out’ the history.”
With this in mind, the Costellos have upgraded the four-bedroom, three-bathroom property, having recently updated all the bedrooms and master ensuite to a high standard.
“We have done quite a lot,” said Mrs Costello. “The exterior we did straight away as the clapboard needed attention. Treating it has given a much smarter look to the house.”
The Costellos were keen to use sustainable materials for their alterations. Mrs Costello explained: “As far as possible, everything involves an element of upcycling or the use of recycled materials. We just felt this was the ethos of the barn.”
Walk through the oak-floor entrance and you will find the triple-aspect kitchen to the left, the garden straight ahead, and the living area on your right. It is this stunning double-vaulted living room with its beamed entrance, which made the Costellos fall in love with the property in the first place.
Mrs Costello said: “We bought the house for this one room. With the inglenook fireplace and the ancient beams, it’s such a warm welcoming heart to the house.
“This is the bit we haven’t really touched.”
This is what makes the property really interesting, because although the Costellos have brought the property up-to-date, there is significant further potential for development.
“The kitchen has the opportunity to be knocked through to the living room to create one open-plan space,” said Mrs Costello.
Doing this would enlarge and improve, what is already, a very large and beautiful living space. But that is not all.
Mrs Costello said: “There is also potential to convert the garage building. It is double-height so would make a wonderful office or games room, with guest accommodation overhead.”
This garage is reached via a gravelled driveway which also provides ample parking. Immediately adjacent to the garage and to the rear of the property is the lawned garden, which is a great size for a family and has a feature brick and flint wall to one side. The garden can also be reached via the sliding patio doors from the living room.
The living room is also the location of the entrance to the guest suite, which has a mezzanine bed-deck and ensuite shower room. Over on the other side of the house, a hall from the living room takes you to bedrooms three and four, as well as the large family bathroom.
Upstairs, the impressive first-floor landing has two deep storage cupboards, a bureau area, and direct access into a large loft area — where the potential continues.
Mrs Costello said: “We have planning permission and drawings all ready for this loft to be converted into a studio/office with roof lights. That’s all ready to go.” Along the corridor from the loft, an airy master bedroom gives access to the existing wet-room — a stunning looking bathroom with limestone tiles and underfloor heating.
With such a spacious property and so much potential, you would be forgiven for wondering why the Costellos would wish to move at all.
Mrs Costello explained: “It’s not an easy move to make. It’s a wonderful location, too, with the common right outside our house. However, we need to move swiftly as my daughter now goes to school in Hurst [near Wokingham].
“The journey twice there and back a day takes me two-and-a-half hours. It’s also not fair to her to live so far from her friends. Job-wise my husband also keeps finding himself in Berkshire. Much as we’d love to continue what we’ve started at Peppard Barn, our need right now is to live on the other side of the river.”
However, for a family whose life is centred in and around Henley, Peppard is the perfect place to be.
Mrs Costello said: “To get to Gillotts secondary school, for instance, takes less time from this house, than it would from the Fairmile [the Bix side of Henley].”
It takes two minutes to walk to the local primary school, Peppard CoE; and Henley, with its train link to London Paddington and Reading, is only a four-minute drive away.
Apart from the facilities at Henley, shops and other amenities can be found just a two-minute drive away at Sonning Common.
Peppard Common is also rich with the great outdoors. From the property you can walk, cycle, or horse ride, for miles. Plus there is a public golf course and a lawn tennis club practically a stone’s throw away from the house.
Mrs Costello said: “The tennis club also runs a holiday club for children. We’ve found this to be a real resource while we’re working. We’re really going to miss living here.”
Peppard Barn is on the market with Peers & Hilton at a price of £800,000. Call (01491) 411066.