This farmhouse has been extended and reshaped over 400 years |

Gaia Farmhouse nestles within a remote valley in the Lake District, but homeowners Bridget and Andrew saw that as both an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity to create a unique home just a short walk from the shores of Ullswater; a challenge, as the modern farmhouse is at the end of a narrow road, ending in a steep pass with six hairpin bends. 

‘We never thought it would be easy, but there were times when we seriously questioned the wisdom of buying a dilapidated property in such a remote area,’ says Andrew.

Cream sofa fireplace, fur throws, wooden chairs

A modern off-centre fireplace creates a striking feature in this cosy space

(Image credit: Bridget and Andrew Hall)

Their five-year labor of love has paid dividends, however. With painstaking care and inspiring vision, they have rescued a semi-derelict and overgrown 400-year-old farmhouse and given it an exciting new future. ‘Many people said it would have been easier to have knocked it down and started again, but the house has an extraordinary history, which we wanted to preserve,’ says Andrew. 

The first record of a building on the site dates back to 1589 in a survey of the local area and, over the next 400 years and with a series of extensions and additions, it evolved from a humble pig shelter to a 32-acre farm.

Kitchen island, wooden walls, furnace, glass balcony

The original roof trusses are the most striking features, particularly in this open-plan area

(Image credit: Bridget and Andrew Hall)

‘Bridget’s family originates from the Lake District and mine from the North East so we both spent many childhood holidays in the region. Now living in Hertfordshire, we really wanted a place to escape to where we love to walk and for which we have a huge affinity,’ says Andrew.

‘We started by taking off the cement render and, in doing so, ended up dismantling most of the gable end wall because the lintel holding it up was rotten,’ he continues. ‘The drystone walls were 2.5 feet thick but many large cracks had appeared, so we had to take down a significant proportion of the walls before rebuilding and restoring the farmhouse to its current condition.’

Wooden beams, black leather chairs

The couple drew inspiration from the countryside to create the Scandi-style interior, based on simple lines and natural light. This space is in the old barn, which stands at ninety degrees to the farmhouse, capturing the views from this end of the property

(Image credit: Bridget and Andrew Hall)

Although architect Andrew and interior designer Bridget created their own design, they employed a locally-based architect and builder to deliver the project. Making monthly visits, they would discuss progress ‘in unfinished rooms open to the skies with bare earth floors,’ says Andrew. ‘Fortunately, it was not listed, so we were able to bring in plenty of light using large windows, glass doors, and carefully positioned roof lights.’

Blue/grey kitchen island drawers, white shelves, hang lamps

Walls throughout the house are covered with diathonite, a lime, cork and clay plaster, creating a texture typical of the original building. Here, a simple Scandinavian-style shelf creates a sense of balance

(Image credit: Bridget and Andrew Hall)

The renovation included the installation of a ground source heat pump and most of the materials were reused or sourced locally, including the roof which had to be retiled with reclaimed Westmorland slates. ‘Access was very challenging,’ says Andrew. ‘At one point we were calculating the volume of concrete needed for the foundations and the builder said it would take six lorry loads instead of two, otherwise, the concrete would have spilled out of the back of the lorries on the steep hairpin bends on the access road!’

Cream fireplace and sofa, grey ottoman, orange cushions

(Image credit: Bridget and Andrew Hall)

Pink blanket, wooden rocking chair, shelf

A tiny original window draws light into this part of the couple’s bedroom. The rocking chair was a birthday gift to Andrew

(Image credit: Bridget and Andrew Hall)

When it came to the interior, Bridget collaborated with London-based Studio Indigo (opens in new tab) to create a style that unites the house, using a soft palette, natural textiles, organic texture, and Scandinavian decor and furniture.


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