Rent this luxury Devon holiday home - with cinema and indoor pool
- Credit: Archant
The South Hams property has been lovingly created by a couple who don’t even own it
Holly Rahder is making coffee for six or so tradesmen in a kitchen covered in decorating equipment when the gardener walks in to say there is no water coming out of the outside tap. It might be that there’s an air lock or the pressure’s not working.
“Right,” says Holly, picking up her phone that has been constantly beeping from the worktop. “I’ll just ring the plumber and get it sorted.”
Within seconds, the plumber is called and the gardener reassured that the problem should be fixed and that Holly will come out in five minutes or so to check what’s been happening, once she’s finished doing this interview for Devon Life.
Project managing a major property restoration is a full-time job – and this isn’t even Holly’s house. Or her full-time job.
She and husband Will, both in their early forties, came here to run Langston, in Kingston, near Kingsbridge, when the farm and beautiful Georgian house were bought by new owners last year.
“The owner asked me and Will to run the house and farm but there was no way we were going to live in the property because it’s so vast,” says Holly. “We thought, well, it would make a great holiday let and the owner agreed.”
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In what sounds like a dreamy scenario, Holly and Will were then tasked with making it happen: leading the restoration and renovation of this incredibly elegant house on the owner’s budget.
“We’ve both been working seven days a week for ten months,” says Holly, immediately dispelling any notion that this has been non-stop fun.
“I was purchasing and planning. And running the farm and a full-time business (she also has her own bookkeeping firm). It kind of takes over. You wake up at 3am, sit bolt upright in bed and think: we haven’t got a salad spinner!
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“Will and I haven’t had a conversation that doesn’t involve light sockets or fittings for about a year.”
Also, with great power comes great responsibility. Holly and Will were conscious that Langston is a Grade-II listed farmhouse and, more recently, a much-loved family home. They knew bringing it up to date while still maintaining its heritage and homely feel was a tough brief. They had to get it right.
The couple - sheep farmers in their ‘spare’ time - have thought long and hard about paint shades and antique furniture, soft furnishings and bathroom lights to make sure every room has its own unique style. They commissioned talented friends and family to help out with finishing touches, such as the stunning stained glass window of Burgh Island, made by Holly’s stepdad, Bryan Luxford.
Will, who also works as a marina manager in Plymouth, came up with the idea to use scaffolding planks as an inset for the screen in the cinema room. He also planned the soothing grey and white colour scheme in one of the bedrooms. “He’ll tell you he’s just a digger driver, but Will’s got a really good eye for this” says Holly, praising her husband’s interior styling talents.
“We didn’t want it to be full of designer stuff,” she adds. “We wanted it to feel as though it’s been much loved and just been given a bit of a zhuzh.”
The house has been re-plumbed to allow for a more modern, pressurised water system and some wiring has had to be changed, but the couple haven’t had to do anything structural to the period property.
The key aim was redecoration and making the house and its layout work as a holiday home for up to 14 people of all ages.
“It has been hard at times,” says Holly, explaining that she and Will haven’t been sleeping at their house in Holberton much at all since this project started, choosing instead to ‘camp’ in one of Langston’s dust-sheeted bedrooms while the work was being done. “I mean, it’s hard enough doing up your own house but doing up somebody else’s for potentially 52 different families every year and trying to make it suit all tastes…well…”
Speaking of which, the time has now come to hand over Langston to those 52 families as the property officially starts life as a holiday let. After months spent living and breathing this house, taking care of its every detail, what’s that going to be like for Holly?
“Although it’s not our house, I do feel very proprietorial about it,” she admits. “I know it inside out. I’ve lived here through the winter, when we’ve had no hot water, no heating, one bedroom with a dustsheet over it.
“But it’s lovely showing it off now; we quite proud of it. It was a massive opportunity for us and wasn’t anything I was looking to do at all. But that’s how life works. You’ve just got to get on with it.
“We’re just farmers having a go.”
Find out more here about how to rent Langston
FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY
Langston has all the makings of a fantastic family getaway. As well as a big, sociable kitchen, plenty of bedrooms, each with their own distinctly styled bathroom, there’s an indoor swimming pool, which forms part of an extension to the house. No running across a courtyard in your wet cossies here.
A cosy cinema room (there’s even a popcorn machine) doubles as a hangout space to play board games, chat or exercise.
“What I really want is for people to come here in their big family groups and then to find themselves still coming back in five or ten years’ time, with the kids growing up and then bringing their own families,” says Holly.
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