Farmhouses aren’t what they used to be, says Jenny Needham, who takes a tour of a stunning holiday let designed from scratch by Niche Living, a Barnard Castle-based mother and daughter interior design duo

Tim and Helen Westgarth, already the proud owners of two five-star luxury holiday lets near Richmond, are divided when it comes to their latest stunning project, the renovation and refurbishment of a large farmhouse. Helen’s favourite room is the kitchen diner, a bright, modern space with lovely views over the countryside. It is the perfect space for large groups to gather to cook and chat over a bottle of wine. Tim, on the other hand, is more drawn to the bar and games room outside, a funky “man cave” that’s perfect for chilling out over a game of pool and a pint.

Guests to The Farmhouse will no doubt enjoy both. They will also be wowed by the beautiful interior of the five-bedroom home. As the building didn’t have the strong architectural features of Shorthorn and Dexter – the two barns that they have converted on the same site – the Westgarths were determined the farmhouse interiors should be particularly beautiful and once again called on the expertise of the design team from Niche Living. Owners Alyson Savage and daughter Victoria Jeavons, together with the inventive Niche team, were thrilled to take on the challenge and masterminded the top-to-toe transformation of the building – décor, furniture, accessories and all.

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“We had pushed their boundaries in terms of different and stronger design choices in the past, but on this project, we were all on the same page regarding colour, strong design and an overall feeling that was bang up-to-date,” says Alyson. “Everyone who has visited has wanted to move in!”

“Helen’s directions were not to repeat any of the past design schemes,” adds Victoria. “The trick was to give each space its own identity.”

This is especially true of the bedrooms, where the aim was to make three master suites. “To prevent any squabbling when guests arrive,” laughs Victoria. “The citrus and grey bedroom has attracted a lot of praise, while others love the room with dramatic Cole & Son Woods wallpaper, delicate pink soft furnishings and the new Farrow & Ball colour, Peignoir, on the wall. My own favourite is the downstairs master painted with Zoffany Fig. I think it demonstrates that painting walls with a strong colour does not darken the room; it beautifully sets off the luxurious velvets from Designers Guild. As for the lovely bath in the en suite, I’m sure I’m overdue a soak in it!”

From the start of the project, the Niche team were mindful that this was a holiday let for large, and sometimes multi-generational, groups. “There are great communal spaces, and the hot tubs and games room just add to the attraction,” says Victoria.

The modern farmhouse kitchen, with views over the Holmedale valley, is a perfect space for gatherings of family and friends. Industrial-style, oversized lamps sourced by Niche from their recently expanded lighting collection, hang over the painted units. A large central peninsula gives guests the perfect place to sit and chat to whoever has the cook’s apron on that evening. State-of-the-art appliances include a glass-fronted wine cooler, and Cole & Sons tile-effect wallpaper adds a modern Mediterranean touch to the dining area. Chesterfield-style leather banquette seating by Niche Living's in-house upholsterer Anthony Oakes runs around two sides of the large Kristensen & Kristensen dining table. “Although the kitchen was lovely, we opted to go for a new fit by Jolly Kitchens, from Brompton-on-Swale, with cabinets painted in Railings set off with white marbled granite,” says Victoria. “The overall effect is bright and dramatic.”

As the property is a holiday rental, durability was also a key factor in the design process. Fabrics were not only selected for colour, texture and style, but with an eye to longevity; hard-wearing carpets and tribal-style rugs were laid throughout. “Our hope is always that guests will treat our properties as they do their own homes, but realistically there may be a few who won’t so it’s important that the fabrics and furnishings can sustain hard wear and tear,” says Helen.

One place guests can let off steam is in the games room, which has been reinvented as a bar and pool room with underfloor heating and a boutique hand-made sofa based on a German design of modular seating. With its exposed stone walls, wicker chairs and industrial-style lighting, it’s the perfect weekenders’ party pad. “What was a garage is now a funky bar and recreation room,” says Victoria. “When the weather’s good, it all connects to the outdoors through bi-fold doors which open out on to the newly-constructed pergola with outdoor seating area and festoon lighting.”

The Farmhouse project was completed in May and the first guests are already booking in. Since the first two barns were completed in 2015 and their journey as a luxury holiday rental business began, Helen and Tim – “with a year off and a baby in between” – have enjoyed high occupancy and a lot of repeat bookings. “We have had a lot of comments about how well furnished the properties are and it’s obvious our guests appreciate us going the extra mile,” says Helen. “Even before The Farmhouse was launched, there was plenty of interest, so guests clearly trust we will once again deliver an amazing product.”

The new offering follows the Westgarth’s original vision, which was to create a holiday home that surpasses expectations in a spacious setting with outstanding countryside views. With the help of local craftspeople and Niche Living, that’s exactly what they have delivered.

Greenbank Barns, Ravensworth, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 7HB. W:

Niche Living, 42 Galgate, Barnard Castle DL12 8BH. T: 01833-638911; W: