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Sarah Beeny has always followed one golden rule in the property business – renovate don’t relocate.
The property expert, who has been in the industry for three decades, has spent years advising us to do up our current homes rather than buying somewhere new.
Property Snakes and Ladders, Help! My House is Falling Down and Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare are just some of the shows where Sarah has put her mantra into practise.
And it seems very poignant at the moment, amid lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic, for people not to up sticks and ship out of their houses.
Sarah had advised us to make our current home suit the needs of our families rather than go through the stress and strain of selling up and moving.
However, Sarah decided it was finally time to break her golden rule and move away from London after a family tragedy.
Sarah with husband Graham and sons Rafferty, Laurie, Charlie and Billy on their new family farm in Somerset
(Image: Outline Productions)
Back in January 2018, Sarah’s father sadly had a stroke that left him in a frail state.
Her dad then suffered from delirium, which Sarah described as a “terribly lonely illness for both sufferer and family”.
“My husband had wanted to move out of London for years and I always resisted,” she told The Mirror in April this year.
“But my father had a stroke in 2018, and it made me realise that as he becomes frailer I need to be around.
“My mother-in-law moved to Somerset, and my brother – who I am very close to – also relocated. My brother is married to my husband’s sister, so now we’re all here.”
Graham Swift and Sarah Beeny enjoy some homebrewed cider on their family farm in Somerset
(Image: Outline Productions)
Sarah admitted “the irony” of moving to the Somerset countryside was not lost on her, having spent years telling viewers to do up their own houses.
The TV property guru and husband Graham Swift are ditching their “cosy life in London” along with their four sons.
They have taken on the challenge of converting a dilapidated 1970’s farmhouse on a former dairy farm into their dream modern stately home.
This will be documented on her brand new Channel 4 show, Sarah Beeny’s Life In The Country.
"We’ve looked around stately homes all our lives and what we wanted to do is build a house that has a sense of grandeur of some of the big stately homes but is on a micro scale,” explained Sarah during the first episode last week.
Sarah in her trademark hard hat for on-site visits
Taking on the 220-acre, semi-derelict former dairy farm will be one of Sarah’s biggest challenges yet, but she’s no stranger to a massive rebuild.
Back in 2001, Sarah and Graham bought Grade II-listed stately home, Rise Hall in Yorkshire, a move that she now admits was “a little bit crazy”.
Sarah and Graham last graced Channel 4 screens to convert the crumbling mansion into a palatial wedding venue.
Their renovation of it was documented in the TV series Restoration Nightmares, and while they enjoyed many happy years staying there, it never became their main family home.
They sold Rise Hall and their London home in order to buy their new dairy farm digs down in Somerset.
Sarah and her husband Graham Swift at their previous home Rise Hall, which featured in Restoration Nightmares
(Image: Hull Daily Mail)
The couple plan to spend around £500,000 on their new home, which also includes 12 massive fields with a flock of 1,000 grazing sheep and a handful of outbuildings.
Viewers will get to watch their progress as they convert the old dairy farm into a modern, carbon neutral, miniature manor house.
Graham, a professional artist, is said to have "spent years visualising his ambitions for the farm".
They plan to landscape parts of the vast estate and let other sections of it grow in a rewilding project to support the farm’s biodiversity.
Alongside the ambitious building project, Sarah and Graham want to have bees, hens and plant 1,000 young trees to improve biodiversity.
Sarah with her four sons, Charlie, Rafferty, Billy and Laurie, and their cockapoo Maple
(Image: CAMERA PRESS)
There were concerns that their four sons would not adapt to their new surroundings, but Sarah has been pleasantly surprised.
“Having four sons, I wanted them to have a mixed education and have more access to music, drama and sport,” she told The Mirror.
“We came to see a school down here that was so perfect, it was the deciding factor.
“We have been so lucky with how well they’ve settled, I’m almost pinching myself. With four kids you’d expect one to be miserable.
“I was worried about my 15-year-old, he was such a London kid, then suddenly he’s in the middle of a farm in Somerset. But they’ve all really blossomed.”
It’s an extremely ambitious challenge, but if anyone is up to the task then it’s Sarah.
*Sarah Beeny's New Life in the Country airs tonight on Channel 4 at 8pm