Real Home: an idyllic 300 year old farmhouse is transformed

Bringing this beautiful period property back to life has been a labour of love for Tina and Martin Philpott

Idyllic 300-year-old farmhouse
(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

Owners Tina, a former air hostess, and husband Martin, a former pilot, live here with their daughter’s cats Uma and Marmite, 10 ducks, and white doves.
Property A Grade II-listed country house (originally two farm cottages) in Somerset.
Essential repairs The couple opened up the kitchen to the garden by fitting French doors. They have also transformed the two-acre garden. A small garden room has been built, and the 16th-century washhouse converted into a studio for Tina’s flower arranging and her bespoke chocolate boxes.

Entranced by its beautifully preserved Blue Lias flagstone flooring, original mullioned windows, natural oak beams, and impressive inglenook fireplace, Tina and Martin Philpott put aside any concerns that they had about the run-down condition of the house they were viewing, and determined to restore it to its original rustic charm. 

The couple had already renovated other properties before then, and Tina had convinced Martin that it was the right time for them to look for a new project. ‘We hoped that together we could create a comfortable and beautiful home for our retirement,’ she explains.  

Explore this incredible transformation, then browse more beautiful real homes. For more information on renovating a house, check our guide.

yellow dining room with wooden table and chairs and flowers in centre in kitchen with hanging pans and aga

Tina’s love for pieces of original furniture has created a distinctive country-style kitchen full of charm and character. An Irish pine dresser from Derek Stacey in Somerton is filled with an eclectic mix of vintage glassware and china. The table, also from Derek Stacey, made using reclaimed oak floorboards found at a local school, is complemented by Tina’s beautiful arrangement of Arctic roses, wax flowers and eucalyptus

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

Built around 1550, and set in a rural part of Somerset, the house had been two farm cottages, but was converted into one dwelling in the 1970s. Even its overgrown, neglected garden didn’t put off the Philpotts. ‘The house was definitely interesting,’ Tina recalls. ‘It was in a bad way in parts, but, although restoring it was going to take  a lot of time and effort, we knew that all the work would be worth it in the end.’

garden room conservatory with wicker chair and dining room

This enchanting light-filled extension, with the original Blue Lias flagstone flooring, leads into the garden. An unglazed urn from La Fleur Antiques in Langport, filled with white hydrangeas supplied by Cottage Flowers, is another of Tina’s floral designs

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

On days off from their jobs, Tina and Martin travelled from their cottage in  the Chiltern Valley to work on the house. Their first task was to hire a skip and take  up all the carpets. Working with their friend Vincent Carn, a builder, they started  on the renovations to the stone property, carefully stripping it of any unsightly  modern additions so that more of its original beauty would be able to shine through.

floral details on a table

With her eye for detail, Tina has created an eclectic, individual and sophisticated scheme. 

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

One by one, the plasterboard ceilings were removed, starting in the guest bathroom. ‘We all pitched in to pull down the plasterboard, then Martin would work on filling the walls, and Vincent plastered and painted,’ explains Tina. ‘We were so excited when we discovered the old oak beams hidden away behind the plasterboard ceiling. Finding them certainly gave us the extra drive that we needed to press on with the other rooms, as we suspected that we were about to uncover the same beneath all the plasterboard elsewhere in the house.’ Sure enough, they were right, with the discoveries continuing as the property started to open up and breathe again.

bedroom pink walls cushions wooden bed mirror curtains

The bedding is from the Life is a Bed of Roses Bedding by Lulu Guinness – Dotmaison. A collection of antique cotton, linen and lace scatter cushion adorn the handmade French pine antique bed 

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

Stripping away all the layers of paint and plaster was difficult, but rewarding, as the history of the house gradually revealed itself. Some of the old oak beams displayed the markings of the carpenters that had worked on them over time. 

Above the headboard in the master bedroom,  the horizontal beams that the original carpenters had individually numbered and marked are now a decorative wall feature. Upstairs, the chipboard flooring was removed, and reclaimed floorboards fitted. ‘Sanding and oiling them all was a real labour of love,’ says Tina. 


Painting one wall in Laura Ashley’s Raspberry has added balance and depth to the master bedroom with its high ceilings and horizontal oak beams 

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

 On the ground floor, Tina and Martin removed all traces of the dated 1970s kitchen and then enlisted the skills of a local craftsman, who built, fitted and handpainted the units. A bespoke ceiling-height larder unit in the corner of the room has added character to the kitchen and provides valuable extra storage. ‘It looks as though it has been here forever,’ says Tina. 

freestanding bath in pink bathroom

The roll-top bath was given to the couple by a friend who was in the process of renovating their house and no longer needed it. It has been painted in a burgundy colour from the Hammerite Metal range to match the washstand

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

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By knocking through the exterior wall of the kitchen and fitting classic French doors,
Tina and Martin have opened up the view onto the terrace, creating a light-filled family space. 

The small floor tiles that previous owners had chosen for the kitchen were not in keeping with the period of the property, so Tina decided to replace them with terracotta designs throughout the scullery and kitchen. A butler sink was chosen for added period authenticity, and Vincent built a plinth using reclaimed bricks.

The finishing touch was to add stonework around the door frame to complement the stone surrounding the original back door opposite. ‘I find it so satisfying piecing a house back together in this way, by taking time and care over the details,’ says Tina.

‘It is possible to create a beautiful and welcoming home on a limited budget, and it’s important to make the most of what a property has to offer, and to cherish and enjoy the things that make it unique. For instance, when we first saw the old washhouse in the garden we wondered what to do with it, but it has made the perfect studio for my business.’

exterior of farmhouse front door

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

The house and garden have been constantly evolving over time and, as Tina and Martin have been living here for almost 12 years, their unique and comfortable home is perfectly suited to their style. Tina is always moving  things around, as well as adding new pieces of furniture, and plants or flower arrangements, or reorganising her treasured collectibles.  

garden building

The summer house also affectionately known as ‘Skip Hall’ has been hand built by Tina and Martin using the entire contents of a friends skip!  

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

‘I love wandering through the meadow on a balmy summer evening enjoying the peace  and tranquillity,’ says Tina. ‘When the roses bloom and the wild meadow is full of cow parsley, poppies and heady scented lavender, there’s no place in the world I’d rather be.’ 


The original stone wash house still remains within the garden. By installing a wood burning stove and some furniture, Tina enjoys spending time here creating her chocolate boxes and beautiful flower arrangements

(Image credit: Jo Sheldrake)

Author & Photographer: Jo Sheldrake

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Karen Darlow
After a brief foray into music journalism, fashion and beauty, Karen found herself right at home working on interior magazines with her role on Ideal Home magazine. She is now Homes Editor on Period Living magazine and loves the opportunity the job gives her to see how others mix vintage style and modern furnishings in their beautiful properties.