For years, English author Plum Sykes and her husband Toby had been looking for an old farmhouse with incredible views, no road noise, and no neighbors. They eventually found the perfect location in the Cotswold Hills – 100 acres of land that looked like a postcard from another time with a small house, barns, stables, and fields dotted with sheep. The only issue was that the old farm cottage was damp, cramped, and deteriorated. Plum had no desire to build… “I wanted to live in an old house, not a new one. The truth was, I was a bit of an old-house snob: Like many English people, I have always attached a great deal of romance and nostalgia to ancient buildings. A childhood spent in a medieval farmhouse, combined with an addiction to such novels as Wuthering Heights, Brideshead Revisited, and Rebecca, had given me the warped view that only old dwellings had atmosphere,” she said.
But the couple realized that if they wanted to live somewhere this beautiful, it wasn’t going to be a simple case of moving into a ready-made home, so they took the plunge. They began working with an architect to create a “fake old Cotswold farmhouse” with the feeling of a home that had been around for a few centuries, combined with modern functionality. They kept the old farm cottage, turning it into a boot room, nursery, and utility area, and a new front was added.
Halfway through a two-year build they parted ways with their architect and builder, and designer Tristan Salazar rescued the project. Plum and Toby wanted their house to feel relaxed but glamorous, and full of old-world charm. “If I had had my way, I would probably have covered every bedroom in floral-printed wallpaper, said Plum. “I am a child of the eighties; the influence of Colefax and Fowler, the English decorator, has never quite left me.” Miranda Brooks was enlisted for landscape design.
Photography by Robert Fairer for the November 2016 issue of Vogue. I have also included additional images of Plum’s homes, as noted below…
Plum’s daily life in the countryside sounds like heaven… “During the week, while the girls are at school, I write every morning in my tiny, second-floor, light-filled writing room with its wild valley views. I try to walk the dogs, muck out a stable, garden, or exercise my horse in the afternoons. What’s the point of living in the country, after all, if you don’t get into it every day? I also spend large amounts of time dealing with my various feathered friends.”