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In what has been a very hectic few months, it was an absolute delight to meet up with Lester and Richard Mead, the owners of Dairy Cottage in Chagford. They, together with their delightful family, were happy to talk about how they found and renovated what was once a simple little cottage into a dream holiday home, full of style and flare.

What were your first impressions when you saw the cottage for the first time?

After searching across the West Country for a new home (with Lester doing much of the searching) they came across Chagford. This charming, old Dartmoor stannary town, set within the Dartmoor National Park, has some wonderful independent shops, great pubs and restaurants and is filled with atmosphere and charm while offering direct access onto the open moor.

They quickly decided Chagford was the right town for them, with Lester visiting to research a few houses, which soon became a shortlist of three.

One of those was Dairy cottage, set in the midst of the town but secretly hidden away in its own little oasis of calm.

Rich described their first encounter with the property; When we walked through the alleyway, into the hidden courtyard together for the first time, we were sold! The house was in a very sorry state, but it was magical – tucked away in a different world and yet in the heart of town.

Dairy Cottage, before the renovations.

Dairy Cottage, after the renovations.

How long have you owned the property?

Lester and Richard bought the property back in December 2011 and moved in three days before Christmas; “It was like living in the nativity – the heating did not work, the oven tended to trip the electrics when you turned it on and the shower was operated with a wrench!” Lester recalled. Nevertheless, they did enjoy every moment of it and look back at those early days as great memories.

What inspired your renovation/design?

“We lived in the house for almost a year before starting the renovation. We wanted to create a luxurious bolthole, which celebrated the quirky features whilst making sure every modern convenience was built in, from underfloor heating to the total control electric Aga and an American style fridge. The combination of our abilities worked well, Lester came up with huge ideas that revolutionised the property, like moving the stairs, creating the en-suite and opening out the ceiling in the master suite – and then Rich worked with the architect and builder to bring them to life. We were very fortunate to work with a fantastic local building company, Character Builders, who took on the challenges and made them happen.

What makes your property unique in your eyes?

When asked what makes this property unique in your eyes, Rich had to think, then recounted; The most special part of the house for us is the master suite. Opening up the loft cavity has created a wonderful space, with amazing oak beams, enveloping both the bedroom and the bathroom. We wanted to create a space that was both relaxing and inviting. For the bathroom, we really pushed the boat out, with a Catchpole and Rye bath and toilet and a Drummonds teardrop shower and sink. Lying in the cast iron bath looking up at the beams is quite an experience.”

What led you into the holiday letting market?

We renovated the property with the intention of living there, but unfortunately my job changed and we needed to move away. We could not bring ourselves to leave Chagford permanently, so decided the only option was to rent the cottage out,” Rich said.

They contacted Helpful Holidays to arrange for one of our property managers to visit.  This gave them a full understanding of what was needed in order to get the property ready for holidaymakers and the all-important income potential they could expect to achieve.

Helpful Holidays have been great. They take the pressure off and are always practical and charming. Especially because we are in Chagford and so are they, it is always lovely to have a chat with them.

Before leaving them to their peace and quiet and their lovely cottage, we asked them what advice they would offer to other people considering venturing into the holiday home market.

The balance that needs to be struck is to create a space which is special so people will want to come back to it, whilst not putting in things that are too precious. For us the most important thing was to keep the cottage in such a way that when we come down, it still feels like our home. For instance, we left our artwork up, meaning the moment we walk through the door, we start smiling.”

Richard, Lester and their family enjoying the garden at Dairy Cottage, Chagford.

If you’d like to find out more and check availability for Dairy Cottage, visit their listing here.