We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
Unable to find their forever home, this couple built their own oak-framed cottage, complete with an eclectic interior
This couple had lived in the same pretty Surrey village for most of their married lives, having originally moved there so their children could have a countryside upbringing. Once their kids had grown up and left, the couple decided it was time to move from their family home, but were keen to stay in the same village.
Get the new year off to an inspirational start with our real homes
They had bought a nearby cottage to renovate, originally thinking that they would rent it out, but they ended up selling their house and moving there instead. ‘It overlooked fields and, as it was smaller than the house we were living in, we thought we’d try downsizing,’ says the owner.
Although living in a smaller property felt right, the cottage didn’t feel like their forever home. But then a neighbour mentioned that they were looking to sell some of their land. ‘We have always liked a project, so decided to buy the land and build our own house. We were thrilled at the prospect of being able to design it ourselves,’ says the owner.
The couple applied to build a two-storey barn-style property. However, the plans were rejected for being out of character with the conservation area that they lived in. They were only given permission to build a single-storey house.
Undeterred, they visited a homebuilding fair for inspiration and came across green-oak-framing company, Border Oak. ‘We loved their designs,’ they recall. ‘We travelled to their Herefordshire base and show home, visiting several times to discuss what we could build.
‘We wanted something not entirely untraditional, but with a slight contemporary edge. Together we came up with the finished design – something between a low Californian-style house and an English country cottage. They’re a wonderful company.’
Open-plan living room
Once completed, the owner went to town on the interior. ‘We bought some new furniture as we wanted to start afresh,’ she says.
‘I found lots of pieces at One World Trading and Neptune. I like scouting things out – I’m a good shopper! The interior is a modern but eclectic mix of things, with lots of items we bought on our travels over the years, too.’
Pops of rich colour combined with ethnic touches create an eclectic feel.
Get the look
Buy now: Frederick sofas, £POA, Voyage Maison
Buy now: St James Upholstered Grey occasional chair, £495, One World Trading
Buy now: Monticello Metal & Glass Coffee Table, £795, Oka
Oak beams bring a sense of history to the new build, while the vaulted ceiling makes a statement and creates a stunning backdrop. The bespoke cabinetry was made by Richard Ward Joinery.
Large windows offer views out to the garden.
Soft pinks and warm woods create a mellow look that’s perfect for entertaining.
A soft grey backdrop throughout the house provides continuity and a sense of calm to the interior. ‘We painted the walls in Cornforth White and Strong White by Farrow & Ball to make the house look big and light,’ says Sheila. ‘We then introduced pops of jolly colour with the textiles and accessories.’
Here, sumptuous colours and fabrics create a luxe feel.
A palette of zingy citrus and soothing blues creates a cheery look in the guest bedroom.
Get the look
Buy now: Blenheim 3 Drawer Bedside chest, £650, Ideal Home
Buy now: Similar Avoca Heavy Herringbone Throw, Turquoise Fleck, £165, John Lewis
Ready for another? Step inside a Somerset farmhouse full of characterful homemade touches
The couple are now confident that they have found their forever home. ‘We love living here,’ says the owner. ‘We thought it would be too small for us but it’s perfect. It’s like a holiday home as we’re in and out all the time. It’s the best thing we ever did!’