Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Sunday, 24 May 2009 16:54 UK

Farmhouse renovation wins award

The judges liked the fact original features were preserved

A couple are celebrating after their house renovation won an award from the Conwy Civic Society.

Claire Barnard and Ian Burrows' home at Penmachno, near Betws-y-Coed, had been empty for 18 years when they bought it.

They lived in a rented cottage for two-and-a-half years as the place was completely gutted and renovated.

The National Trust - which was part of the judging team panel - said the house showed how things should be done when renovating old houses.

"We lived in the village and when the house came on the market we decided it was too beautiful not to buy," said Ms Barnard.

"It had one sink with one cold tap, no bath or toilet and very few power points as the wiring was ancient.

"In the kitchen there was a rusty Victorian Range which we had cleaned up and reinstated."

The work took two-and-a-half years and the couple escaped the worst of the dust in a rented cottage.

"I don't think I'd do it again," said Ms Barnard.

"All the floors had to be dug up and re-laid as the original slate in the kitchen, and black and red tiles in the living room were laid straight on the earth - now we have under floor heating."

The couple's builder taught himself to use lime plaster for the walls, although that turned out to be one of the low points of the project in one respect.

Sitting room
The floor tiles in the sitting room were taken up, cleaned and re-laid.

"It took ages to dry, it seemed to take forever, and it was the middle of winter and we did not have any windows so the air could circulate," said Ms Barnard.

"It was freezing, and I'm glad we resisted the caravan option," she said.

High points included finding a cavity which used to hold a bread oven, and also discovering how the house had been added to over the years, she added.

The civic society put up posters in the village asking for people who had renovated a house to apply, and the couple were nominated by their local publican.

"They award every two years, and last time no-one came up to the standard, so we are chuffed," she added.

The couple now run their home as an organic small holding selling eggs, lamb and turkey.

House before it was renovated
The house was in a really bad state of repair

Liz Green, from The National Trust, said this year's nominations were "extremely heartening".

She added that in the previous round (2006/7) the assessors did not find any schemes worthy of the award.

"This year the challenge was to pick out the most outstanding schemes in an extremely strong field," she said.

Ms Green said the assessors' reaction at Ty Newydd was "this is how it should be done".

"Ty Newydd was seen as an exemplar, where such care had been taken over architectural detail and in respecting the history of the place, not just the buildings but the lives of those who had gone before," she added.

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