From rundown and shabby to a design dream

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This traditional sandstone cottage was unloved and forlorn when Emily and Angus Dawson first saw it 12 years ago - but they welcomed the challenge of realising the potential they spotted in the now charming home.

Emily said: "We needed a larger property and more space and I also wanted a larger garden. We saw this property and it needed such a lot doing to it which we saw as an opportunity.

"It wasn't love at first sight, I have to say, because it was in such a poor state. It had been empty for some time and was rented out for a couple of years so it certainly needed some TLC."

Her background as an artist and designer was a huge help when it came to transforming Millbrook, which dates from the late Georgian era and is a spacious property with two reception rooms, dining kitchen and three bedrooms, one en-suite.

The Dawsons had a large conservatory built which has a wood-burning stove and this has become one of their favourite spots.

"We gutted the house completely, changed the layout to give us a larger family bathroom, pulled out the dated fireplaces and put in a beautiful marble fireplace in the front room," Emily said.

"The cottage isn't listed but it was built in approximately 1825 and we wanted it to look in keeping with that so kept the original sash windows and everything in the Georgian style.

"It's a pretty house now. It's a toss-up for a favourite room between the front room which was originally two rooms and is now one large living room and the conservatory which we use all year round."

Other improvements they have carried out include damp-proofing and re-plastering throughout, installing skylights in the roof and fitted cupboards, replacing lintels and adding a new kitchen and a new garage in natural stone.

They have also landscaped the large gardens which they open to the public as part of the National Garden Scheme.

"They're pretty well stocked and large with part of a woodland area," Emily said. "My husband put a pond in and built walls and we get the sun all day long.

"We're completely secluded and don't see the neighbours. We terraced the first top part of the garden which is now a lovely patio area with an arbour covered with roses.

"What was basically an uncontrolled woodland part has now become managed woodland with all-year interest. It's very pretty with the trees and fruit trees and a variety of plants.

"There is lots of wildlife, the birds and we keep bantams and have call ducks on the pond. It's quite a small pond, not very deep for safety reasons but ideal for the ducks and we have lots of hostas and other bog plants around it.

"The garden is interesting from that point of view because it goes from dry at the top where you have the sunny aspect down to the boggy parts in which you can grow a variety of different plants.

"Hayton is such a lovely village but because we're not moving that far - we're building a new house just up the road - I don't think it will be a case of missing it.

"We're downsizing from gardening but it's really more because we like a challenge of a new-build."

Millbrook, Hayton, Brampton, is for sale at £435,000 from PFK Estate Agents. If you're looking for a new home, check out the properties on our website here.

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