Overall winner of The Period Living Readers’ Home Awards

Mention the complete renovation of a 400-year-old property set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and most would run a mile – but not Lieset Kemink. In 2012, she and husband André Elshout bought a historic, five-bedroom farmhouse near Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire, with the intention of transforming it into their dream family home.

They had previously lived in a barn conversion, and desired a layout better suited to family life with their young children. They looked Willow House intending to reconfiguring the layout. They wanted a property packed full of period features, but which had all the latest home comforts built in; a practical, family-friendly floor plan, but one that was equally suited to entertaining, as well as a relaxed, rural yet refined interior combining English country and continental influences – a signature style that Lieset has coined ‘new country chic’.

unaturally beautiful garden sympathetic extension

With final plans drawn up by an architect, the next step was to tackle planning permission, and, being set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Lieset was prepared for difficulties. However, armed with plans that seamlessly linked to the original architecture, coupled with guidance from an expert planning consultant, the process was painless, taking only three months to be approved. Building work began in November 2012, and the renovation was completed by August 2014.

Essential repairs

  • Drainage was built into the site.
  • A sympathetic extension built from reclaimed stone was added.
  • Inappropriate Edwardian-style windows had been installed, so they were replaced with frames in keeping with the vernacular style.
  • Dormer windows were added in the roof, which was retiled.
  • The entire property was rewired.
  • A new kitchen and bathrooms were fitted
  • Added underfloor heating and a multi-room sound system
  • The loft, garage and stable block were converted to create extra living space as well as a two-bedroom annexe.
  • The ground floor boasts a large kitchen-diner with a new pantry, utility and boot room, and the garage is now a formal dining room.
  • The first floor has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a home office while the second floor houses a guest suite

An extension was added to the north side of the property using reclaimed stone from Winchcombe Reclamation, including a new entrance porch into which the stable door from their previous home was fitted


The kitchen is separated from the dining room by glazed bi-fold doors and its new position offers fantastic views across the Cotswold hills. Leading off the kitchen is the new utility room. Covering the walls are handmade Belgian tiles in myriad blue shades, which complement the soft turquoise kitchen island


Lieset chose to convert the garage adjoining the property into a formal dining room, raising the floor level to give the house a distinctive period feel. The room is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Book Room Red and is furnished with an antique dining table bought at Newark Antiques Fair and chairs bought in Belgium. The chandelier is also antique – for similar, try Oka


Vintage bottles and flowers from the garden make a pretty display in a distressed bathroom cabinet


An antique bed fit for a princess makes a focal point in Chloé’s room, while the alcoves in the building’s fabric display cherished possessions perfectly


The surfaces in all the bathrooms were supplied by Oxford Granites. Lieset chose a taupe shade for the master bathroom to enhance the décor, while Chloé and Louis’ bathrooms are pink and blue respectively


 All the ceiling beams have been painted white to brighten each space. In the living room, engineered wood flooring, a salvaged Belgian fireplace and walls painted in Farrow & Ball’s Light Gray ground the scheme, while antique leather chairs and a classic sofa from Marie’s Corner are teamed with a contemporary coffee table to achieve a modern country look


Lieset reversed the orientation of the former open-plan kitchen/dining room to fit her new layout. A Flemish-style fireplace keeps the room cosy in winter, while new French doors leading out onto a terrace make the space perfect for entertaining in summer. The table is antique and the rug is from Oka


Soft grey walls, teamed with classic white bedlinen and white wooden flooring, give the master bedroom a calming feel. Lieset chose pre-painted engineered boards, which are ideal for use with underfloor heating. The ottoman is antique, as are the bedside tables – find similar at Sweetpea & Willow

Get the look

Choose classic pieces in neutral tones to emulate Lieset’s rural yet refined look

  • Rug: Cameo Nordic rug, from £64.64 for W60xL90cm, Urbane Living
  • Chandelier: Winchelsea chandelier, H70xDia.80cm, £1,625, Oka
  • Fireplace: Vicenza fireplace, H153xW148.5cm, £4,554 (surround only), Chesney’s
  • Bottles: Kelston Emblem, £29.95 for a set, One World Trading
  • Teapot: 1920s English Art Deco silver-plated teapot, H14cm, £49.99, Lavish Shoestring
  • Paint: Benjamin Moore’s paint in Hot Lips and Saint Martin Sand, from £20 for 0.94ltrs of Natura flat
  • Cushion: Alabama cushion in Powder, £40, Sofa.com
  • Chair: Murrayfield leather chair, seen here in Capri, H107xW83xD89cm, with a choice of mahogany, natural, walnut or plain legs, from £1,099, Multiyork

What the judges said

Our overall winner, and top of the Country House Restoration category, Lieset Kemink and André Elshout’s beautifully converted Cotswold farmhouse won over the judges with its calm, sophisticated interiors.

‘Lieset’s lovely Dutch-inspired rooms made me want to change my own house!’ says Judge Vanessa Arbuthnott. ‘The raised fireplace in the kitchen-diner is so inviting, and the living room looks a very restful place to be.’