This pretty beamed cottage is Grade II-listed and was originally two cottage dating from 1690 knocked into one, with later extensions.
It's a brave person who buys a property despite a poor house survey. But the owner and her husband followed their hearts when they found the house of their dreams. Having spent time living in Vancouver and Country Durham, they eventually moved south. As a family friend lived in Surrey, they headed there and rented for three years before deciding that the time was right to buy their own house.
'We started to look for somewhere in the countryside and saw a few properties, but we couldn't find anywhere with character, potential and space for the children. Then the estate agent's details came through for this house and we thought it was gorgeous. It had been empty for two years - there had been interest in it and several offers, which had all fallen through after surveys.'
'We viewed it in February and even though it was empty and cold, it felt nice. It just needed to be loved again and we could see that it could be beautiful. We put an offer, then we got our survey back and we could see why everyone else had pulled out! The house needed a new roof, chimneys repointing, rewiring and replumbing, and - along with the fact that it was listed - the amount of work had frightened potential buyers.' The owners where not put off, however, and they invited the local conservation officer to give his opinion before they signed on the dotted line. 'He gave us lots of guidance and encouragement, so they took the plunge and bought the house, moving in June and beginning the huge task of renovating it. 'We were planning to do it in small chunks as there was so much to do. The plumbing and central heating were prioritised because we needed a new boiler and it made sense to install one in the summer.'
The work on the house continued gradually until the Christmas 2013 storms hit and the roof was damaged. 'We then had to bring forward the repairs to it. The whole roof had to be removed so we decided to move out and rent for six months and do all the work on the house - our hand was forced because of the storm damage.' Once the roof was completed, the cottage was taken back to the bare bones and it was rewired, the black beams were stripped, and the downstairs walls were redone with lime plaster. The beams were stripped for a softer finish while neutral furnishings provide the perfect backdrop for pretty accents of pink.
One of the listed building regulations was that chalk paint had to be used throughout so that the house could breathe. A new kitchen and new bathrooms were installed, while the slate floor in the oldest part of the house had to be removed and terracotta tiles similar to those that would have been there originally had to be re-instated to the comply with the requirements of a listed house. When it finally came to decorating, the owner knew exactly what she wanted. 'The interior needed to be in keeping with the house as a classic country cottage. I love country style and i wanted it to be pretty with muted colours, faded florals and lovely fabrics. Most rooms are tonally the same so the house flows.'This space is in the original part of the cottage where the terracotta floor tiles had to be reinstated. The bench came from a vintage fair.
A versatile range cooker is the perfect partner for a country kitchen, especially when nestled between chic country cabinetry. A pale backdrop allows the vintage chairs in assorted colour to sing out.
The owners have created valuable extra storage in the kitchen with an attractive freestanding unit. Echoing the traditional built-in larders of yesteryear, these stand-alone pieces look perfectly at home in today's modern country kitchens. They have added a free-and-easy feel to their scheme with upcycled, handpainted furniture in mismatched country colours. On the floor, the lightly stippled finish on these rustic flags is the perfect choice for a country kitchen, and they will never go out of fashion.
A cloakroom is just the place to experiment with a new style you might not be confident enough to try in a bigger room. Here a copper bath adds the wow factor in this cute country cloakroom.
A well-designed guest bedroom will make friends and family feel welcome, even when they are far from home. Furniture styles in keeping with the rest of your home remind your guests of your personality and tastes. Here a vintage eiderdown and painted furniture add country charm to this elegant guest bedroom.
The children has a huge input in how their rooms would be decorated. 'They were involved in choosing the decor for their rooms - we made all the choices together, so it's all the more special for them. Here a wooden bed tones beautifully with the beams and door.
What better way to brighten up their bedroom than with funky furniture that encourages them to develop their imaginative play. A bespoke cabin bed is a fun place to sleep and play.
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Bathrooms are utilitarian spaces, but there's no reason why they can't benefit from a decorative twist. Twin basins and a slipper bath create a classic feel. A key aspect to a successful bathroom scheme is storage - plenty of concealed options allow more space for colour and texture to shine. A vanity unit with drawers eliminates unsightly clutter. 'We put so much love and enthusiasm into the renovation and that has created a place that we all enjoy spending time in.' Now we're finished, it's a sanctuary for us and the perfect place to raise a young family.
This house originally feature in Country Homes & Interiors, May 2017.
Image credits: Polly Eltes
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