When Becky, a chartered surveyor and Philip, the managing director of a large agricultural business, were looking for a home to start their new life together, they were drawn to the potential of village life and the challenge of renovating Brook House, a 19th century farmhouse.

Becky recalls her first visit to the property, “we weren’t sure it could become the home we wanted. It was tired and dark, with lots of little rooms and it took a lot of imagination to see its potential.” However, they both shared the same vision to create a beautiful new home together and soon realized that the property had huge potential. The renovation was underway!

Somerset County Gazette: Jo Sheldrake explores a beautiful renovated farmhouse

With the proposed plans approved and their builders on board, they had the entire building gutted. “Starting from a blank canvas seemed to be the most straightforward place to start,” says Becky. “It can be very daunting when gutting a property as nothing stays the same and getting the design scheme and layout right for each room was a challenge.”

Becky loves to cook and entertain, so creating a large kitchen and living space within the centre of the house, with wonderful views overlooking the garden was key. “What I find magical is that Philip understood exactly how to make my dream kitchen come true from just a few conversations and scribbled drawings. He instinctively knew what I would like,” says Becky.

For Philip, energy efficiency without compromising comfort was one of his priorities and so the home was designed around renewable technologies. This meant installing photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, solar thermal panels to heat the water, a high specification of insulation and air source heat pumps providing heating and hot water.

Somerset County Gazette: Jo Sheldrake explores a beautiful renovated farmhouse

The majority of the renovation work took place before Becky had moved to Somerset, so her input was very much from a distance. Philip on the other hand, was able to manage the project as he was living only a few miles away at the farm he ran. The building process went relatively smoothly which was entirely down to Philip being on site every day. Two new oak staircases and upstairs, three new bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms were built.

However, they did find themselves reconfiguring the layout and design of the downstairs WC and utility room. Contrary to their original plans, a small WC with space saving, sliding doors was incorporated into the lobby and boot room, instead of in the utility room. This proved to be a more practical solution and maximised space in the utility room, benefitting their dogs and accommodating all their outdoor activity gear.

Having completed the renovation of the main house, Becky and Philip moved in with much excitement and anticipation of lots of happy times ahead. Tragically, with the planned extension in the early stages, Philip died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack in January 2013.

Somerset County Gazette: Jo Sheldrake explores a beautiful renovated farmhouse

“Initially, I lost interest in the project but gradually saw it as an opportunity to finish what we’d started and a distraction from my grief,” recalls Becky. “Once the builders left, I slowly tackled the interior to create the home Philip and I longed for.”

Becky enjoyed working with Claire Wakeley who helped her design most of the soft furnishings throughout the house. Sourcing beautiful fabrics to make the curtains, headboards, blinds and scatter cushions to compliment her vision of mixing ‘old and new’ was great fun. She painstakingly trawled the internet and auction houses to find a unique selection of hand painted country and farmhouse furniture, like the vintage blue chest of drawers in the master bedroom. Mixing pieces of painted, distressed French style furniture from fairs, together with more modern oak furniture has worked really well in this house.

Somerset County Gazette: Jo Sheldrake explores a beautiful renovated farmhouse

Becky’s life is now a far cry from her days as a rural chartered surveyor, she now runs a small boutique B&B from her home and provides delicious home cooking using local and home-grown ingredients. Opening Brook House to guests enables others to benefit from the love and attention to detail which has gone into its transformation.

A stay at Brook House will guarantee its guests carefree relaxation and the simplicity of country living which feeds the soul as well as hungry appetites. Whether sitting by the fire with a book, enjoying the garden or joining Becky in the Aga kitchen, chatting as she cooks, guests are made to feel very much at home and able to leave their worries behind.

Becky hopes that Brook House will attract those seeking refuge from the fast pace of everyday life and even those that have experienced their own sad or difficult times. “Brook House is a healing home, through incredibly difficult times, home has been the comfort and a source of great strength and finishing the house has been a way of feeling close to Philip – our love hasn’t gone it’s now in every bit of this home and I hope my guests will feel it’s nurturing benefits as I do” says Becky.

If you have a gorgeous home or know of anyone who has, do not hesitate to contact Jo Sheldrake on 01749 572100 or johannasheldrake@talktalk.net.