See how colour and pattern have turned a tired cottage into a fun modern home

Despite the challenges along the way, this neglected period cottage has been transformed into a delightful family home
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  • While living in her flat with her husband in west London, Ruth Stolerman was on the look our for a house and came across this railway workers’ cottage about three miles further north.

    ‘Because these properties are so small, you can get a house for the same price as a flat,’ she says.

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    The house was in a rather forlorn state, so it certainly took a leap of faith and imagination to envisage its potential, but this is where Ruth’s talents came in. After starting her career as an interior designer while living in Hong Kong, Ruth returned to the UK where her business, Ruth Stolerman Design, went from strength to strength.

    Exterior

    London cottage exterior

    Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez

    And building work was certainly required. The place was in such a bad state of repair, structurally, that you could see daylight through gaps in the walls.

    ‘As well as having no central heating, it was also riddled with wildlife – there were mice everywhere and about 50 pigeons living in the loft space, and it was also home to a fox,’ says Ruth, who nevertheless made a successful offer on the spot.

    Kitchen-diner

    kitchen with blue geometric tiles

    Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez

    ‘Downstairs there were a series of small rooms which were opened up into a single front-to-back area,’ says Ruth. To further maximise the space, they built out into the side return. As extension ideas for small houses go, it was an effective solution and gave them space for a dining area.

    Blue kitchen cabinets

    Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez

    By incorporating a lightwell, they have increased the feeling of openness in the blue kitchen. Dark blue painted cabinets are complemented by the Mosaic Del Sur cement geometric floor tiles.

    Living room

    White living room with yellow sofa and vintage truck coffee table

    Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez

    Living in a small space, Ruth knew how important it was to make each piece of furniture count. Several pieces double up as storage – the trunk coffee table is a handy living room storage idea and the shelving unit in the dining area that reduces in depth as it gets higher to give you storage without an interrupted eyeline.

    Study area

    yellow glass fronted cabinet

    Veronica Rodriguez

    ‘I’d wanted the rooms to be cosy and inviting, with modern accents,’ says Ruth. ‘I love colour and pattern as well as a sense of fun.’ It was also important to the pair that they incorporated much of the furniture they bought while living in Hong Kong, knowing each piece has a wonderful story and special character.

    Master bedroom

    attic bedroom with exposed brick

    Veronica Rodriguez

    One of the biggest transformations occurred at the top of the house where the loft conversion was transformed into a stunning master bedroom with room for a bath, that is now awash with light.

    Ruth created an all-important characterful feel by leaving a section of the wall as exposed brick, onto which she hung a charming gilt mirror that had always been in her family. An antique painted bed tucked under the eaves completes the feeling of magic.

    Bath area

    freestanding bath in bedroom

    Veronica Rodriguez

    ‘I’m obsessed with baths, there is no better way to unwind,’ says Ruth of the Formoso bath, from Clearwater Baths that she had installed to one side of her bedroom.

    ‘Having a bath in the bedroom had been a dream forever and I think this one has the most satisfying shape’  As well as enjoying the indulgent feel of the room, Ruth was created a contrast to the rest of the house.

    Guest bedroom

    bedroom with red walls

    Veronica Rodriguez

    Visitors love this Eastern-inspired room scheme, that zings with colour. Walls in Dulux’s Bonjo Jazz contrast with the chevron curtains.

    The couple kept the Victorian style fireplace and above it, a simple shelf stores reading options for guests. ‘Don’t be afraid to mix and match,’ advises Ruth. ‘More traditional pieces can be elevated alongside, for example a modern light fixture’

    Shower room

    shower room with blue flooring

    Image credit: period cottage with colourful tiles and modern farmhouse furniture

    Ruth’s love of colour and pattern extends to the bathroom. Statement Lily Pad Marine tiles from Artisans of Devizes create a vibrantly patterned floor. This is in contrast to the sleek fittings and minimal white tiles throughout the rest of the room.

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