A sympathetic transformation has ensured the integrity of two adjoining 16th-century cottages remains intact.
“My first job was as a bricklayer,” says Dominic Jude, “and knowing how to build houses has been useful ever since.” His assessment of his experience is something of an understatement as, alongside owning several properties in Cheshire and London, it is rare for Dominic not to have some kind of building project on the go. In 2014, he decided to acquire a holiday home beside the sea. However, after careful thought, the prospect of the time he would spend regularly travelling between Cheshire and London deterred him. Instead, he redirected his energies into looking for a house in the rather more conveniently situated Cotswolds.
Dominic smiles as he describes the village property he eventually found. “You can’t really call it a cottage; a cottage doesn’t usually have six bedrooms, two staircases and nearly an acre of garden,” he says. “This was originally two cottages, though; they were empty when I bought them and in serious need of attention.”
Not surprisingly, Dominic was able to draw on his experience and building company contacts to help him with the overhaul of the heating, plumbing and electricity, and to obtain listed building consent for an extension. For expert advice about the interiors, however, he turned to Irene Gunter, an interior designer he had discovered some years earlier at The Inchbald School of Design. He had interviewed the then final-year student and liked her opinions, and they have worked together on several projects since.
“The cottages were built in the sixteenth century,” Irene says, “and Dominic and I wanted to use appropriate materials to renovate them. We had many discussions about wood and stone, and about the finishes that would ensure the interiors felt authentic. Dominic is very hands on and often works alongside his craftsmen,” she says. “When we had decided
to use a particular rustic plaster finish for the walls, we talked to the plasterer about it but, to be absolutely certain, Dominic showed him how to work the finish himself.”
Dominic took an active role again, when he and Irene were trying to find a quarry that could supply stone with the uneven “pillowed” e≠ect often seen on stone floors after centuries of wear. The local quarry doubted it could be done, so Dominic honed a slab himself and went back to them with it. “They took on board what I wanted,” he says, “and worked the slabs by hand so that each is unique.” Damaged wood floors were also replaced and new boards fixed with forged iron nails correct to the period of the building. “When you walk into the cottage now,” Irene says, “the essential architectural elements are consistent.”
Making sense of the complex layout that spans the two cottages was another challenge. The building is listed and Dominic was not allowed to remove the partitions that divide three of the rooms on the ground floor. To resolve this, Irene suggested they fit the kitchen into the smallest room, in the centre of the three, and put a sitting room on either side: one known as the snug, and the other a family room with large sofas and a television.
Concern for architectural propriety has not inhibited furnishing decisions, however. An instinctive nod to 16th-century interiors is given by Irene’s choice of textiles, both linen and wool, which combine successfully with encaustic tiles and contemporary light fittings.
The refurbishment took 18 months to complete and Dominic describes his new home as the perfect place for entertaining extended family and friends. He adds, somewhat wryly, that “given a choice between the Cotswolds and London’s King’s Road, my teenage children will usually choose the latter”. That aside, for Dominic the most important thing is that his restored home has met his brief. “I didn’t want it to look as if it had been designed without recognising the kind of building it is.”
A dynamic choice of strong opposing patterns on walls and floor creates a contemporary feel (above), while the basin adds an industrial edge. Alape Ag.contra 505 basin,
£99.60, YDA, yorkshiredesign associates.co.uk.
A cushioned window seat (above left) offers a softer contrast to the bold textures of the reclaimed wood cabinets, worksurfaces in Belgian Blue limestone and the stone floor. Shear wall light, £435,
Bert Frank, bertfrank.co.uk.
Window seat cushion in Expedition Mont Blanc, £185m, de Le Cuona, delecuona.com.
This compact space has been painted white to help make the most of the light from the small window, while decorative yet practical flooring echoes the strong blue on the cabinet doors.
Cabinets in Hague Blue, Estate Eggshell, £43.50 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball, farrow-ball.com.
Cement encaustic tiles 10131, £88.80sq m, Mosaic del Sur, cement-tiles.com.