Simple tones and rustic touches reflect the idyllic rural setting of this Lincolnshire farmer’s cottage
When Clara Trussler spotted this Lincolnshire farmer’s cottage for sale, her heart skipped a beat. ‘I hadn’t even been inside before I told my husband Mark that this was where I wanted us to live,’ she says. ‘It was my dream cottage with lots of character – a place to start a family.’
In July 2007, the couple had been looking to sell their new-build and move closer to Lincoln and the cottage fitted the bill. ‘The place had been owned by an elderly couple and had escaped modern updates,’ says Clara. The compact layout featured a tiny sitting room and a kitchen with a few basic units. Along the back was a lean-to 1970s sun room. There was a shower room in the hall, and the dining room was bright pink with matching carpets and an ancient gas fireplace. Upstairs, the
bedrooms were fitted with dated wardrobes, and the bathroom had an avocado-coloured suite. ‘The house was so damp that wallpaper was hanging off,’ adds Clara.
With no renovation experience, the couple got stuck in. ‘ We wanted to create a larger kitchen, an extra bedroom and a generous living space. We came up with the layout ourselves, and had plans drawn up.’ On a tight budget, the pair took on most of the work themselves. They stripped away outdated fixtures and fittings, and knocked plaster off the walls to get at the source of the damp. In the front bedroom, they discovered the remains of a fireplace that had been hidden for years behind the ugly fitted wardrobes.
Once the walls were hacked back, they were injected with dampproofing solution, then plastered. ‘Our friends helped us out which kept us on budget,’ says Clara. ‘One friend did some plastering while another fitted the bathroom tiles in return for home cooked meals.’
As Clara and Mark worked through the house, they discovered more period features hidden away. ‘ We found a fireplace archway in the dining room which we left exposed,’ says Clara. ‘Mark hired a digger and started on the foundations for the kitchen and side extension – he even built and tiled the roof himself with the help of our neighbours.’ The kitchen itself was built by a local joiner. ‘ We couldn’t afford the whole kitchen at once so we got items made as and when we could afford them,’ adds Clara. ‘ We’ve all become close over the years, and our children, Eliza and Isaac, are now friends with his children.’
When it came to the finishing touches, Clara turned to nature for inspiration, furnishing her home with antique finds, wooden pieces and rustic shapes, with walls painted in soft, neutral tones. ‘Living in the countryside, I take inspiration from nature,’ she says. ‘We picked objects made from natural materials like wood, clay and wool that add depth, texture and warmth. I love our home and how it evolves as our tastes and style develop. One thing we’ll never tire of is looking out of the window, taking in the views over the fields.’
SITTING room The footstool was an antiques fair find. ‘I love hunting down old pieces,’ says Clara. ‘I sell brocante home accessories at my Etsy store, Hygge and Home.’ Rabbit cushions, £12 each, both habitat. deer head, £60; wool blanket, £80, both hygge and home
KITCHEN ‘A U-shaped layout keeps the work area enclosed and everything close to hand,’ says Clara. Units painted in Pavilion Gray estate eggshell, £60 per 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball. Tap, £ 422, Perrin & Rowe. Try the Villeroy & Boch Farmhouse 60 sink, £227, Wayfair
Dining ROOM The beautiful parquet flooring originally came from a school in Doncaster and Clara had it fitted by a local joiner. walls painted in Lamp Room gray estate emulsion, £ 43.50 per 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball. Dining chairs painted in Antique white, £10 per 750ml, Rust-oleum. For a similar table, try Loaf, £695