'I get so much joy tracking down something pre-loved' - This Cotswold home is filled with lovely vintage finds

In restoring this Cotswolds cottage the owner found an outlet for her passion for sourcing vintage and antique pieces

front exterior of a Cotswolds cottage with roses in front garden
(Image credit: Brent Darby)

This pretty Cotswolds cottage in a sleepy village offered its owner the ideal home to act as an antithesis to the hustle and bustle of city life and indulge her lovely of buying secondhand.

Gretchen Shoring owns and runs a fast-paced production company in London and co-runs an art sourcing business, Arti, so wanted to find a bolthole away from her frenetic working life. 

This former farmworker’s cottage dates to the 17th century and is one of three cottages that form a small terrace, located in a village in the south of the Cotswolds.

The terraced property was perfect as a retreat, with a modestly sized kitchen-diner and living room downstairs and two adjoining bedrooms upstairs. However, a previous owner had renovated it with a minimal aesthetic that didn’t feel sympathetic to the 17th-century property. 

‘The cottage still had an underlying softness that I knew I could draw out,’ says Gretchen. ‘And I loved that it was once owned by a woman who lived to be 100 and had brought up her family here.’

She slowly restored character to the cottage, transforming a once minimalist interior with decorative charm and thriftily sourced vintage buys.

Country-style kitchen

round kitchen table in a country cottage kitchen

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

‘When I moved in there was white flooring and a horrible shiny kitchen, which felt rather sterile,’ reveals Gretchen, ‘but the original internal doors and beams were intact, as well as the lovely curved staircase.’

She began by installing oak flooring downstairs and replacing the shiny minimalist kitchen with sympathetic, Shaker-style units and a sink and worktops from Howdens. She customised the cabinets with handles from Rowen & Wren for a more country kitchen aesthetic. The Georgian table and chairs were an Ebay find.

view from living area to cottage kitchen with floor units and plate rack

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

As a splashback idea, she sourced vintage tiles from a reclaimed fireplace shop in south London, the ceramic wall lights and kitchen tap are from deVol, and Gretchen found an antique plate rack on eBay.

display of vontage green plates on a cottage kitchen wall

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Vintage green wall plates sourced over time from antique fairs, shops and eBay make an eye-catching wall plate display idea in the kitchen.

Open-plan living room

view towards fireplace in a beamed cottage living room furnished with vintage pieces

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

The cottage's ground floor would once have been two rooms but was made into an open-plan kitchen-dining-sitting space before Gretchen bought the cottage. 

A sofa neatly subdivides the room as an open-plan living room idea and is softened with cushions and throws from Melin Tregywnt. The Club-style vintage chair was from an Instagram seller.

view of a cottage living room towards door and window with vintage furniture

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

The living area is full of cottagecore decor ideas and clever ways of upcycling old furniture.

The green sideboard was Gretchen’s most impressive preloved bargain, costing just £1 from eBay. She painted it with Farrow & Ball’s Calke Green and added vintage knobs.

She also lined the vintage oak wall cupboard with wallpaper for a pretty interior.

‘I get so much joy tracking down something preloved; it appeals to me that pieces are gently faded and that their story becomes part of your story, too.’

Vintage-style bedrooms

view into a cottage bedroom with antique furniture and william morris wallpaper

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Scouring auctions and brocante fairs is one of Gretchen's passions and she has become adept at tracking down bargains. All her furniture is antique or vintage. 

'Most of the things I’ve bought have been thrifted. I’ve spent money on new pieces where I need to, but I don’t really like to buy new furniture, apart from beds. I think rooms furnished in a rush can feel a little cold, and buying new adds to consumerism in a way that I don’t really like,’ she says.

This vintage bedroom is furnished with antique pieces found on eBay or at antiques fairs, complemented by a bed from The Original bed Company.

detail of william morris wallpaper in a bedroom

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Gretchen chose William Morris Marigolds wallpaper for the main bedroom for its soft print and resonance with the Cotswolds locality, not far from Morris’ former country retreat, Kelmscott. 

‘It felt right to use one of his wallpaper designs in the bedroom.'

vintage armchair and laundry cupboard in a cottage bedroom

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

The two bedrooms are adjoining as they would have been historically.

A vintage dresser is used as a wardrobe in the twin bedroom, with curtains in the glass-fronted top half hiding the contents.

Cottage garden dream

cottage gravel garden with box hedged flower beds, pond and fountain

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

The cottage's location was everything Gretchen had hoped for, and it had a surprisingly large and secluded garden, which was a big attraction. 

With its four box-hedged flower beds, garden pond and fountain, the secluded back gravel garden is the perfect spot to enjoy the quiet of country life.

gravel garden with box edged flower beds, pond and seating area

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Afternoons see the secluded garden bathed in sunlight making it a wonderful spot to sit and listen to the birds. A wisteria-smothered arch that runs the full length of the plot fills the garden with the heavenly scent from its delicate racemes of creamy white flowers.

gravel path between two box edged flower beds passing under a white wisteria

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Although she cannot be at the cottage permanently at the moment, Gretchen is there as often as possible and a keen participant in village life. That does mean though that the cottage is available as an occasional holiday through Cotswold Escape.

'Even now, when I arrive at the cottage, I have to pinch myself that the reality is every bit as good as my original dream.

‘I’ve made a few mistakes, of course, and I wish I’d been brave enough to put in a vintage kitchen, but it’s been a lovely process slowly to add the character back to the cottage.'

Freelance Writer

Kerryn has worked in interiors publications for 25 years. She was the editor of three homes and interiors titles, most recently The English Home where she was Editor-in-Chief of both its UK and US editions for almost 12 years.

With contributions from