Striking a balance between retaining charm and embracing progress isn't always easy. James Fisher picks out four homes where bold decisions have been made — with spectacular results.
In an elevated position in the Northumbrian hills near Ingoe, Grade II-listed South Hall is a charming Georgian home perfect for those looking to live with both history and modern comfort, as well as rural charm.
The six-bedroom home is an ideal mix of old and new, with the rusticated quoins of the façade working in concert with the modern glass-walled extension, which contains an open-plan kitchen, dining and family room.
The rest of the home has been modernised, but retains period features, such as original panelling, dado rail and decorative dentil cornicing in the drawing room.
Outside, six acres of land include a formal garden, a sun terrace, an Arctic-cabin barbecue house and three paddocks.
What was once named Woodville is now Turnstone House, a lovingly modernised, five-bedroom family home near the south Cotswold town of Stroud. The property was constructed in the 17th century, before being extended in the 19th century, and has seen a variety of owners, including a renowned Bletchley Park codebreaker and the incumbent, textile designer Nancy Parker.
Although the exterior is a picture postcard of Cotswold stone, the interior boasts modern bespoke kitchens and bathrooms. Period features, such as exposed beams, stone walls, stone mullion windows and flagstone floors have been preserved.
The grounds extend to 4¾ acres, including paddocks, a cottage, home office and garden.
The curiously named Cathanger Manor, some seven miles from Taunton in Fivehead, has a Grade II* listing and has been carefully preserved during its lifetime, up to a recent refurbishment that includes a bespoke kitchen created by Jake Chalon with an antique limestone floor from Artorius Faber.
The property, which sits in some eight acres, offers space in abundance, with eight bedrooms, three reception rooms, the magnificent double-height Justice Hall and a guest annexe, all of which are finished and presented to a modern standard that blends in seamlessly with the more historical exterior.
Outside, gardens and grounds include a heated Roman-style pool, an all-weather tennis court, an arboretum, lawned areas, orchard and kitchen garden.
Set in the village of Puttenham is the Old Forge, a new conversion and contemporary modernisation that has taken a former smithy and transformed it into a four-bedroom family home.
Inside, a semi-open-plan kitchen and breakfast room occupies the ground floor and leads
to the sitting room (the original forge).
One bedroom is on a mezzanine floor, the others, including the master suite, are on the first floor.
Outside, a small garden packs a punch, with well-planted specimen shrubs, trees and borders surrounding an area of lawn, with a wildlife pond to the rear.