The Old Barn, Lavendon, Olney
How much faith would you place in your spouse/partner to find your next home without you? This is exactly what happened when the current owners of The Old Barn were looking for a home in the area when work required them to move from Japan.
A location close to Bedford was important - near the office and The Harpur Trust Schools. A big house with character and outside space was important too, as they intended to get a dog.
A number of houses were shortlisted, and, as he viewed each one, he relayed to his wife that they just didn't feel like 'the one' - that was, until he stepped inside The Old Barn. He knew straight away he had found their new family home. It wasn't just the size of the house that impressed, it was also very quiet and secluded with a lot of space.
Approximately 150 years old, the barn was originally converted in 1995 and the current owners have put their own stamp on it during their time there. "We built the garden room, added a guest room, changed all the windows to hardwood - more in-keeping with the barn look - as well as upgrading the bathrooms and kitchen." One very handy addition the owners have made is the gardener's toilet, ideal should you decide to employ a gardener or do outside work yourself.
The owners have also purchased additional land to give this home an impressive amount of distinctive gardens. The 'Big Pond', as it is affectionately known, was purchased around 20 years ago; they have built a summer house and this is where evening drinks are held, as you sit and look out across the stunning scenery watching the sun set. A pergola looks over the Japanese Garden, created in honour of their time overseas, and then there is a paddock: "we have planted a lot of trees up there so it doesn't really look like a paddock anymore."
"We were ahead of the trend of open plan living, and the kitchen is the favourite room and where we spend most of our time. There is a snug area at one end, an area we use as a study where the computers sit, then a dining space as well as the kitchen. If we're entertaining then we use the dining room and have drinks in the garden room; the house offers a lot of flexibility and we have had many a big family function here."
For one Christening, they had 40 people to a sit-down meal in the garden room. Don't let the size put you off because when that log burning stove is roaring in the winter, you can be sat enjoying the vista in just your shirt sleeves. When asked what they will miss, the owners were very quick to reply: "When you wake up and look out of the window over at the Big Pond you can see the heron fishing and ducks and ducklings playing, it's a privilege to own such countryside."
The village is in walking distance and is home to two pubs with restaurants. The church is Anglo Saxon and you will also find a well-stocked shop and Post Office. The market town of Olney is about a 5-10 minute drive away, where there is a much larger selection including a weekly market and a monthly farmers' market. The Old Barn's setting makes it the ideal location if you enjoy the outdoors, with walks in abundance, including a bluebell wood, on one of the many possible walks direct from the house. There are also many cycling routes and numerous stables for those who enjoy riding. Idyllic as it sounds, you are not in the middle of nowhere as the M1 is only 12 minutes away.
The family has spent many a happy hour on the river bank, as their two younger children were keen rowers and The Harpur Trust schools have good rowing facilities. They fondly remember their times at the Bedford Regatta, an event worth attending whether you're a rower or not.
The Old Barn has been a huge part of the family's life and is going to be hard to leave, but with the children grown up they feel now is the time to start a new adventure whilst they can thoroughly enjoy it. As they state, they are "not downsizing but getting rid of redundant rooms."
When it comes to distinctive properties, this one is truly special and in search of someone to make it their home.