Owner spotlight on Agra Cottage holiday cottages

Owner spotlight on Agra Cottage

Could you be a luxury cottage owner?

We’ve all fantasised about it, but what is it actually like? This week we’re showcasing one of our Gorgeous Owners, Mark Richardson, and asking the question: what's so good (and not so good) about owning your own luxury cottage?

The birth of a luxury holiday cottage

Mark Richardson and his family are the proud owners of Agra Cottage, a fabulous three-bedroom luxury cottage in the Yorkshire Dales just outside Masham. Mark and Eleanor left careers with a large international architectural practice and a London-based events and media company respectively in the pursuit of an idyllic life in North Yorkshire.

“We fell in love with High Agra at first sight. We dreamed of creating a home, being married and raising a family here. Being an architect, the opportunity was too good to miss. I was looking for a change in lifestyle and it ticked all of the boxes. Since moving here, Eleanor and I got married, had 2 children, 3 dogs, 2 horses, 5 ducks and 30 chickens. We also set up an events business and built a cottage which includes a mile of roadway! Quite a lot in 8 years!"

In 2005 they set about the total renovation of the existing cottage and the sensitive conversion of one of the barns with the aim of creating a self-contained luxury holiday cottage of unrivalled quality in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. By remaining true to the inherent character of the original building, but ensuring the interior has that wow effect with contemporary luxury and style, Mark and Eleanor have created a truly exceptional property and one of the finest luxury Yorkshire Dales cottages in the area.

“We spent three years working on the structure, painfully at times, restoring, reclaiming and maintaining the essence of the building and the place whilst sourcing the right materials, furniture and fabrics to create what we refer to as contemporary comfort. We simply wanted to create a cottage which we would like to stay in. We wanted top quality finishes and not filled with grandma's furniture and swirly carpets! With the barn being built of stone we tried to expose as much stonework and architectural features as possible.  All the existing openings were glazed in one piece to bring in as much of the landscape as possible, including the large cart shed archway which provides a great picture to the dining room window over the adjoining paddock. All roof timbers were treated, repaired and exposed to add further character. We then chose complementary materials albeit used them in a contemporary way, stone flooring, oak doors and staircase. We chose colour palette reflects our surroundings: 'landscape,' 'sky,' 'stone' and 'heather' from the moors.”

The highs and lows of refurbishing and owning a luxury holiday cottage

Eleanor runs their busy events company The Angels – and Mark manages Agra Cottage and his property business.   Here he gives an honest assessment of the delights and occasional despair of creating and running a luxury holiday home…

Any low points?

During the refurbishment, we ended up in court with our builder who was simply a rogue and accordingly we won, however, he then declared himself bankrupt and left us £165k out of pocket!

Your highlights…

One evening Eleanor and I sat out on our kissing seat in front of the pond after a long day of graft during the renovation with a glass of wine watching the sun go down!  We continue to do the same as often as we can. 

What do you enjoy most about your holiday home?

The people who usually come to stay are our type of people and we have enjoyed much time with many. It is not a destination for those who love a party, but rather lovers of the countryside, nature, being outside and luxury surroundings. We have been invited to wine and dine with guests, I have taken guests, fishing and shooting rabbits, in fact, we have an invite to visit some previous guests in Switzerland.

And the least...

Those who don’t appreciate the above, and there are a few who don’t!

Any advice for someone considering their own luxury cottage?

It’s a hugely rewarding experience, but make sure you set out what you want from it and stick to your guns. You can’t be all things to all men but if you are honest with yourself you will be hugely rewarded by the end result and those who choose to come and share it with you.

Find out more about the Agra Cottage, Lower Wensleydale.
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