Natural textures, time-worn antiques and simple rustic treasures are offset by a pared-back look inside a sensitively renovated Cotswold cottage
Natural textures and rustic treasures are offset by a pared-back look in a sensitively renovated Cotswold cottage
At the centre of a pretty Cotswold village, edged by sweeping open countryside, this 17th-century thatched house appears to be a quintessentially English cottage from the outside. Walk round to the back of the timber-framed structure, however, and quaint is cleverly juxtaposed with a contemporary glass and stone extension that has given the interior a new vitality. “The cottage was run down and hadn’t been touched for years when we bought it, but we knew it had potential to be brought back to life,” owner Karen Cull recalls. “We were instantly drawn to the beauty of its thick stone walls, irregular textured surfaces and quirky elements. We wanted to preserve these marks of time by using authentic materials and respecting the original structure.”
At the time, Karen and husband Anthony had just found a buyer for their Mallorcan home. “Having sold our UK restaurant business, we moved to the island in 2002 in search of a more relaxed existence, in a warmer climate and with the opportunity to explore new skills and a different lifestyle. We restored an ancient Balearic millhouse to live in, worked on a few other
THIS PAGE In the kitchen, 18th-century stone flooring mixes well with the rustic furniture, industrial lights and aged decorative pieces such as unusual chemist jars and wooden bowls; the stairwell
links the old and new structures via a contemporary glass walkway; the living room is decorated in an array of natural tones OPPOSITE An antique chandelier stands out against the pale interior renovation and styling projects and quickly realised that we both loved sourcing decorative antiques,” Karen says. “After eight years, we were ready for a change again and began to look at British properties online. This Cotswold cottage on the outskirts of Winchcombe, in Gloucestershire, appealed immediately and was located very near to where we had both grown up.”
Selling their renovated island home complete with contents proved cathartic, giving them the freedom to buy the property, start afresh and turn their mutual passion for antiques into a business. In 2009, Karen and Anthony moved into the cottage and, at the same time, launched Anton & K Decorative Antiques and Interiors. They traded for six years from a shop in the village, then relocated 18 months ago to a local warehouse, where items are now sold by appointment and online. Not surprisingly, plans to renovate
the cottage have been worked on gradually. “We wanted to get to know the space before making any structural changes,” Karen explains. “The original property was literally a two-up, two-down building, with a large downstairs bathroom and one little basin in a bedroom. When we moved in, we added a small kitchen in the existing galley, updated the bathrooms and refreshed the decoration.”
Five years on and the couple were able to turn their attention fully to the house. In 2015 the garden was excavated to create space for a new open-plan kitchen and hallway that links back to the original structure via a light-filled vaulted glass staircase and up to a private and lofty bedroom suite. In turn, the stairwell leads into the original cottage and connects the two spaces as one. “The extension has transformed how we live and brought so much light into the house,” Karen says.
Throughout, the simple pared-back look celebrates weathered and worn imperfections. Rough textured walls, in soft chalky tones of white and grey, blend with reclaimed old stone flooring. Foxed mirrors, natural vintage linens, distressed wood, flaking ceramics and encrusted stoneware are used to great effect. Antique French and Swedish furniture has been carefully sourced and includes secretaires and consoles, armchairs and footstools re-upholstered in vintage linen and hemp, and characterful rustic tables and chairs with original dry-scraped paint. In the kitchen, handmade units are mixed with large-scale dressers, rustic benches and a marble-topped patisserie counter.
Chic yet welcoming, with an understated elegance, the couple’s signature style has earned their business a following among customers who appreciate the value of authentic antiques and aged paint veneers. “The faded patina that comes with time is important to us – it has a depth and rawness that is relaxing to live with and carries a sense of provenance and history,” Karen explains.
From the kitchen, folding doors open onto a similar, carefully curated garden in a limited palette. In the summer, lavenders, white hydrangeas and rambling roses with box hedging, topiary, pleached pears and seasonally planted containers add structure and interest. “The garden is full of old decorative pieces – we see it as an extension of our living space, and have created outdoor areas that feel like rooms,” Karen says. “Our love of antiques influences everything we do.”
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LEFT Upstairs, the whitepainted walls and floorboards add to the light effect in the vaulted space; the 18th-century Rococo Swedish secretaire is one of the couple’s most treasured pieces OPPOSITE The white master bedroom has a fresh New England feel. A collection of seed heads found on local walks makes a striking display in a wooden pot