This 17th-century three bedroom semi-detached cottage was originally two cottages that was converted into one in the mid-19th century. The owner, Michelle, was originally from Surrey, and had fond memories of the quaint country village in Hertfordshire and was lucky enough to find her dream house there.
‘On a drive round the area, we noticed the For Sale sign outside this cottage and I fell in love with it from the outset. Its classic chocolate box double-fronted exterior was so beautiful and the orginal beams inside were even more apppealing,’ says Michelle, who owns her own antiques and gift shop, TheHouseOfElliott.net.
The buying process was very long and stressful, and after losing it once to a higher bidding (who later dropped out), they finally had the keys and celebrated in 2001.
The cottage was in good condition, so the family moved straight in. Although, it wasn't decorated to their taste and busy wallpaper made it feel dark and dated. The kitchen and bathroom had also seen better days. But now every room has been redecorated and given a relaxed country look with natural textures to complement the original beams and rustic nature.
Walls in the living room have been kept plain and simple so the owner can add colour with furniture and accessories. She had some Roman blinds made up using Vanessa Arbuthnott's French Ticking fabric. 'I love its relaxed yet sophisticated style and used it as a starting point for the rest of the new decor and furnishings I've since added,' she says. The subtle touches of red make the living room feel cosy without being overwhelming and also pick up on the richness of the exposed brickwork of the fireplace. Splashing out on a woodburner was the right move in the living room. 'It has been worth every penny as it heats the room quickly and keeps it warm.'
The mix and match of natural textures give the room a homely feel and another big success has been the sisal carpet laid throughout downstairs. 'Its neutral backdrop is the ideal tone for the laid-back vibe I wanted to create and it complements the wooden perfectly.'
The kitchen was a priority as it was dark and dingy when they first moved in. So, the owner enlisted the help of her brother to respray each unit door with an off-white spray intended for cars. This method is very practical, as it doesn't chip and results in a smooth finish. They then replaced flowery wall tiles with simple white ones and laid a laminate floor for a modern country look. 'As well as respraying the units and changing the floor, we added the patio doors and replaced laminate worktops with real wood.' The results are classic country fresh with plenty of light entering the room from all angles.
In the dining room, the look leans towards elegant dining with a French influence using a classic-shaped table and linen covered chairs. Many of the owners items are from her own antique shop. 'I couldn't imagine selling anything I don't love myself.'
Whimsical word signs hung on walls finish the owners room decor with a fun character. 'I sell graphic signs in my shop and have many around the house. They bring a quirky touch to any plain wall or corner.'
Upstairs is a different story from the subtle walls and laid back decor of the ground floor as bold wallpaper dictates the colour scheme in each bedroom. 'My favourite has to be Nina Campbell's Cream Birdcage Walk design in the master bedroom,' says the owner. 'I found this print whilst looking through an interiors magazine. I then sourced accessories to complement the rich tones.'
The owner's daughter's room has seen many transformations since she has grown up in the house. 'It has progressed from a yellow nursery to a pink, fairy-themed little girls room with a cabin bed.' The original beams even find their way into this room, lending interest to the sugary all-pink scheme.
The family bathroom has been lovingly updated with country charm in mind. 'As we didn't want to cover up the exposed beams in the bathroom we made them a feature by tiling up to them.' Cream walls and simple soft blue mosaic tiles keep the look rustic and calm. 'I've realised over time that you don't necessarily have to spend a lot of money decorating a room to make an impact - a change of paint or accessories in a new colour can instantly update and freshen up a space.'
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We hope to see you there.