Six years ago every spare minute for surveyor Richard Redfern and his wife Kate was directed at finding a house to buy. Theyd just returned to the UK after living in Hungary and were focusing their search on a small area within the triangle formed by Buntingford, Baldock and Royston. Its a part of the world they know well due to family connections. Before moving abroad the couple had lived in London. This time they were looking for a house in the countryside with enough bedrooms for a family of five, somewhere off the beaten track where their two sons and daughter would be able to enjoy countryside living. As soon as they saw the ancient farmhouse at Southern Green they knew theyd struck gold. We fell in love not just with the house, but the garden as well, Kate remembers. I said: Weve just got to buy this. The romantically named Youngloves Farmhouse dates from the early 1600s and stands in six acres bordered by woodland. Its an idyllic spot, Kate says. The road where we are doesnt lead anywhere. Its a dead end. The garden extends to about an acre and we also have a five acre paddock. The field backs directly on to woodland. The kids make dens in there with their friends, theyre free to roam, we dont have to watch them all the time. Kate and Richard met at university. She became a primary school teacher, working in London as well as during their time in Hungary. Since moving back to the UK and living in the Hertfordshire countryside shes worked with her brother in estate management. Richard also works locally. The listed building was in a good state of repair when they bought it. It didnt need any structural work but, like most new owners, they wanted to make changes, mainly cosmetic. Chiefly we wanted to focus on the beautiful structure of the timber frame, Kate explains. We wanted to highlight the beauty of the structure, so we chose pale neutral colours for the decor and natural fibres for the curtains and soft furnishings, to not let pattern detract from the majesty of the beams. Each one has notches and its own gnarled character. Most of the timber was salvaged from ships. The house was first remodelled in the 1800s. The most recent work was in 1999 when previous owners added the ground floor playroom with a further bedroom above, taking the tally of reception rooms to four and bedrooms to five. The kitchen-breakfast room had just been refitted when the Redferns arrived. At the far end theres a door on to what Kate calls the back kitchen which opens to the garden. The three rooms together run from front to back of the house, replacing what would have been the domestic quarters during Queen Victorias reign. The new designer kitchen with its electric Aga and dove grey units met with the new owners approval. I like the electric Aga because its easy to control but, when I first saw the kitchen, I couldnt think where the fridge was, Kate laughs. Its concealed in drawers. Like the other appliances it blends into the overall plan of the kitchen. It works wonderfully saves it sticking out as a standalone in the way most fridges do. The family has a traditional fridge in the back kitchen along with an additional larder and sink. What today is usually called a utility room, its a very useful space perfect for wellies to save mud coming into the house. Its also the sleeping quarters of Millie, the familys spaniel. The main kitchen-breakfast room was two rooms until the new kitchen was installed and panels between the wall beams removed. The previous owners had a table in the breakfast area but weve had a shelf built, Kate says. The children sit there on bar stools to do their homework. The shelf is just wide enough to take their laptops. Its the perfect arrangement. Rather than the kids, aged 12, nine and seven, being packed off to do their homework in their bedrooms, they can chat with mum while shes cooking supper. Having them there also quashes the temptation to slope off and play games on their consoles. The only change Kate and Richard made to the kitchen was to paint the previously grey walls white to make the room brighter. White walls, dove grey units and a stone floor the colour of single cream provide a contemporary contrast with the centuries-old beams. To highlight an original feature and link their footsteps with all those generations who have lived and worked in the house before them, Kate and Richard removed the carpet in the formal dining room to reveal the well worn brick floor. For Kate the floor is a daily reminder of the heritage thats part and parcel of this old house. There are fireplaces in three of the reception rooms. The dining room and family room each have a woodburner in the fireplace. The drawing room has a vast inglenook with seats beside the open grate and niches either side of the chimney breast. Richard and Kate have placed candles in the alcoves where previous owners might have kept precious salt. Kate suspects the remains of the original bread oven might be encased somewhere behind the inglenook in the wall shared by the fireplace in the family room. The panelled walls in the drawing room were painted cream before the Redferns bought the house. Kate kept them that way to bounce light around: Most of the rooms are double aspect and south facing. They get plenty of natural light but oak panelling covering the walls in the drawing room would have made it rather dark. There are two staircases up to the first floor. The front stairs lead to a landing large enough for the children to get out the Scaletrix and leave it where it is when theyre fed up playing with it. The upstairs rooms retain old low doors and latches but all five bedrooms have high ceilings. Both bathrooms have been refitted. Each has a bath and a separate shower. Richard and Kate have a brass basin in their bathroom which they found in a souk in Morocco. Richard brought it back in his suitcase, Kate smiles. We had it set into a chest of drawers. The outside of our bath with its brass claw feet and ancient brass taps was painted lime green when we arrived. We changed it to black to match the chest of drawers where the sink is plumbed in. The floor tiles in the bathrooms were custom made for them by craftsmen in Hungary. You can choose your design and colour scheme. The basic tiles are polished concrete. It cost a fortune to have the tiles shipped over. Another addition was to create a highly efficient airing cupboard. There used to be three pokey cupboards off the second landing. We took out the plywood dividers and fitted a Victorian style clothes airer with a pulley to raise it to the ceiling. The cupboard is directly above the Aga. Everything dries in no time. Theres now an opportunity for another family to enjoy the delights of Youngloves Farmhouse. The Redferns are moving to the village where Kates mother lives. Theyve instructed Savills in Bishops Stortford to find a buyer for the property in Southern Green. Its on the market with a guide price of £1.695m.