Collected vintage treasures enhance every room in this idyllic renovated family home
I’vealways loved the countryside and adore horses,’ says Claire Mcfadyen. But when she and her husband Jamie were living in their previous home in a small town in Surrey, they had no plans to move anywhere more rural – until fate intervened. ‘Jamie is originally from Wandsworth in London so he’s a city boy,’ explains Claire. ‘We had renovated our house and were quite settled, then my dad emailed me and said he had spotted a house for sale that he thought would suit us. His words were, “This house looks like a belter”.’
Claire and Jamie went to view the house the very next day. ‘We instantly loved the setting – it was at the bottom of a hill in the middle of the countryside. The house itself particularly appealed to me because it looked like something out of a fairytale – the path leading to it wends its way through the garden. I loved the idea of bringing up our daughters Maisy and Mollie here. The downside was that the property was cold, damp and miserable. An elderly couple had lived here and it needed lots of work. But the potential was obvious, so we put in an asking-price offer straight away.’
However, even if their offer was accepted, the Mcfadyens weren’t sure the sale could go ahead as they needed to sell not only the house they were living in, but also another
What makes this house a homeé ‘Having the woodburners – they make it feel so cosy – and now our daughters want one in their snug too!’
What we love most about living here… ‘Being in the countryside, surrounded by fields, but being so close to London, too’
one that Claire was renting out. When they explained the situation to the vendor, he told them he had already received an offer – but fortunately he accepted theirs. ‘I then had to sell two houses quickly,’ says Claire. ‘Luckily, our house sold 12 days later, after a bidding war, and the rental property a few weeks after that, so everything fell into place.’
As Claire and Jamie had worked on properties previously, they weren’t daunted by the prospect of renovating another and set to work on their new project with relish. The priority was installing new central heating, replumbing and rewiring the house, and then replastering the walls. The chimneys also needed some repair work. It was winter when the purchase went through, and the first hurdle was the boiler breaking down the day after the sale was completed. ‘Our workmen said it was the coldest site they’d ever worked on!’ recalls Claire. And worse was to come. ‘One snowy day while the plumbing work was going on, our electrician was in the house with Jamie, and when the time came to leave they realised they were snowed in!’
The main house renovations have now been done but all the way through Claire kept in mind that she would one day want to have a kitchen extension, as the cottage has a small galley kitchen. And replacing the existing conservatory is
also still on the to-do list. They have made cosmetic changes to these rooms while they wait for planning permission. ‘The kitchen was painted dark blue so we lightened it up and painted the units in an off-white shade,’ says Claire.
The wooden worksurfaces help complete the rustic look.
When it came to the rest of the interior, Claire knew exactly what look she wanted. ‘I decided on a modern rustic scheme with lots of vintage pieces to add character,’ she says. Some period features were also added, such as the Victorian slate fire surround in the living room.
A neutral backdrop throughout provides a soothing atmosphere, with pops of colour injected via accessories. However, in the snug, Claire went for a darker option and chose a grey-blue paint shade on the walls. ‘We wanted it to be cosy,’ she says. And in the conservatory there are industrial touches, with statement factory-style lighting.
With plans afoot for a new extension, the cottage is still a work in progress, but the move to the countryside has provided an enviable lifestyle for the family. ‘We love living here,’ says Claire. ‘We open the curtains in the morning and see the fields and the horses. We have rabbits in the garden and deer come, too. It’s a lovely way of life.’
House The cottage has a fairytale feel enhanced by its idyllic setting. Virginia creeper trails down the façade adding colour.
Snug A log-filled fireplace adds interest. Walls, painted in Inchyra Blue by Farrow & Ball. Armoire, Louisa Grace Interiors. Cabinet, Ardingly International Antiques & Collectors Fair.
Living room Claire has chosen an elegant scheme with a palette of neutrals. Sofa, footstool, DFS. Cushions, Beyond France. Rug, Ikea. Tray table, Habitat.
Hallway As well as making a charming tableau, the desk is a neat workstation. Chair, table, Louisa Grace Interiors. Linen cushion, Nkuku. Mirror, Sunbury Antiques Market.
Conservatory An industrial-style scheme is in contrast with the rural backdrop. Hide,Yarrow Art & Design. Pendant lights, Louisa Grace Interiors. Runner,Beyond France.
ConservatoryWooden bowls, Nkuku.Square plates, Villeroy & Boch. Silver champagne bucket, Culinary Concepts.White serving dishes,Le Creuset. Plants, Ikea.
Hallway The flames of a woodburner create a warm welcome. Basket, Nkuku. Candlestick, One World. Glass vase, Mad Lilies. Coal bucket, Garden Trading.
Hallway Accessories are cleverly displayed. Shelf, Ardingly International Antiques & Collectors Fair. Mirror, Sunbury Antiques Market.
Kitchen The tongueand-groove panelling injects country character.Wooden worksurface,Kitchen Worktops Direct.Tongue-and-groove,painted in Skimming Stone by Farrow & Ball.
Kitchen White china on open shelves gives a contemporary twist. China, Le Creuset and Villeroy & Boch. Plant pots, Woodcote Green Garden Centre & Nurseries.
Mollie’s bedroomPretty pinks add a feminine touch. Throw,Zara Home. Cushion,Peony & Sage. Rug, bedlinen, both The White Company. Walls,painted in Dimity by Farrow & Ball.
Main bedroomA French-style bed and relaxed linens add natural elegance. Bed,Brissi. Cushions, throw, both The Forest Bailiff. Bedlinen, The White Company. Blind,Ambience Home.
Bathroom Reclaimed panels create a salvaged feel. Bath panel, Letter B, both Louisa Grace Interiors. Tiles, find similar at Topps Tiles.