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12th Nov 2018

Otterly Farmhouse; The sustainable product of a creative clan

Sometimes a place just belongs to itself – everything adds up – and then you hear the story behind it and understand why. Set in a wild and delicate area of outstanding natural beauty and architectural heritage, Otterly Farmhouse and its grounds needed careful handling and fortunately they had been placed in very safe hands.

Owner and self-designer of Otterly Farmhouse, Anna Smith simply oozes creativity. The 18th century farmhouse of coursed clunch rubble with brick dressings, is home to herself, her husband Paul and two young children. The stables are home to three fabulously characterful alpacas – who graze alongside the rest of the family pets and wildlife. The gardens are designed and planted by Anna’s brother, landscape architect Tom Barnsley (Director of Roundfield) and from the outbuildings Anna and her sister Katherine run Thread Tales Company (@threadtalesco) a sustainable accessories and clothing enterprise with a socially aware story all of its own.

On the recommendation of friends, who had completed a renovation with the Barr Group a few years earlier, Anna and Paul had contacted StuartBarr CDR as part of their tender process. From Anna’s own initial designs, Anderson Orr Architects drew up plans and successfully achieved planning permission – no mean feat given the heritage of the building. From there on Anna, Construction Director Chris Noonan and Site Manager Aaron worked together to specify the build and bring Anna’s vision to life.

The new single-storey linking structure was to incorporate a simple palette of materials (reclaimed wood, old red brick, stone and lime plaster) in keeping with the original building, with steel glazing and a slim profile aluminium clad roof line. The glass walls were designed to enhance views from the house and provide a strong visual and physical link with the gardens beyond.

Inside, the old farm beams and exposed matt black steels are complimented by the contemporary walnut and matt black cabinetry finishes. Black gloss metro tiles (Fired Earth) set off the copper tap, sink and ironmongery to striking effect. Marble effect quartz from The Granite House. 


Lighting from John Cullen and Buster + Punch, in graphite and smoked bronze, draw the eye through to the dining area, where new oak beams are backed by reclaimed boards. A powder coated roof light by Howells Glazing and ‘Crittall’ style external glazing sit alongside the internal timber sliders and timber feature-window (by BarrJoinery) which adorn the adjacent den. 


Exposed brick and stone, lime plasterwork and ‘old oak’ porcelain floorboards, by Hard Rock Flooring, add warmth to the scheme, picking up on the old red brick outside. Touches of leather and wool (including stunning ‘Thread Tales’ creations) add a feeling of hygge throughout.

Further into the house (the project was a complete renovation) fabulous wall coverings and stunning fabrics sit alongside the old oak, matt black and lime neutrals which run throughout.

Bathrooms are all fitted with Lefroy Brooks sanitaryware and tap-sets. Shower frames from Matki are in keeping with the ‘Crittall’ style glazing below, as are the matt black handles and caged wall lights from Buster + Punch and the statement geometric Fired Earth ‘Sorento’ Nizza floor-tiles. Touches like the freestanding Victorian tub, antique mirror and even splashes of pink painted woodwork give the spaces their own personality.


The gardens are a fabulous project in progress. Designed by Thomas Barnsfield, Anna’s bother and co-director of Roundfield Architectural Landscaping the new perennial style sits perfectly with the look and vibe of the household. The lower meadow which runs down to the river bank is to become a ‘food forest’ for which the completed phase one tree planting will provide the basis for the permaculture beneath. Another charming addition, in line with the rest of this incredibly eco-friendly property, Tom and Anna guided the StuartBarr CDR team in building an eco-pond, as part of the hard-landscaped terrace – enabling amphibians, hedgehogs and bird life alike to make themselves at home!-

In Anna’s words “The Barr Group team were innovative and pro-active in their solutions to problems. The beams in the den were new, as this section of the property is an addition, cladding them in reclaimed floor boards was the making of that space. Aaron was really great at alignment and at understanding my vision. He is a carpenter by trade and could interpret and create anything – for example the reclaimed wood under-sink cabinets – which he built from a scribbled drawing”.

Anna’s incredible eye for detail, together with Aaron’s ‘anything is possible’ outlook, proved to be a killer combination. Everywhere you look there is another original design feature which makes Otterly Farmhouse a rich visual feast. The overall look is elusively hard to pinpoint, ‘modern rustic meets strikingly individual’ perhaps? Click into the project page and assess for yourself.

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