PAST PER­FECT

The own­ers of this listed cot­tage in Wilt­shire were keen to un­cover their home’s fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - Fea­ture Mag­gie Colvin | Pho­tog­ra­phy Robert San­der­son

Tom and Camilla Har­ring­ton’s home has a che­quered his­tory. Back in the 14th cen­tury, it was no more than a wine store. ‘The round bar­rel-shaped cav­i­ties are still vis­i­ble,’ says Tom, point­ing out dents in the front façade. ‘Ap­par­ently, in those days, wine mer­chants would roll bar­rels through th­ese open­ings for stor­age and even­tual re­sale.’

Cen­turies later, the black­smith who shoed the horses of pass­ing trav­ellers, plied his trade here. His orig­i­nal chim­ney is now part of the cook­ing re­cess in the kitchen. Af­ter an­other 200 years, Ge­or­gian gen­try added the smarter façade and the new front room, now used as the main sit­ting room. Th­ese hints into the prop­erty’s past, Tom’s pas­sion for his­tory, and the cot­tage’s idyl­lic Wilt­shire lo­ca­tion con­vinced him and Camilla to buy the place.

As Tom ex­plains, ‘When tourists search on­line for the pret­ti­est vil­lage in the UK, up pops ours. There’s a Miche­lin-starred restau­rant nearby, two pubs and a me­an­der­ing river, which we pad­dle in to cool down on hot sum­mer days.’ On first view­ing, the cou­ple recog­nised that this char­ac­ter­ful prop­erty could be turned into the per­fect es­cape for hol­i­days all year round. Camilla, who’s Dan­ish, has a strong sense of de­sign and style, and was quick to spot the po­ten­tial of its quirky fea­tures, while Tom, ea­ger to un­cover its his­tory, could hardly wait to see what lay be­hind the pan­elling in­stalled in the Six­ties. With the go-ahead from the lo­cal con­ser­va­tion so­ci­ety, they were able to strip out much of the in­te­rior, re­mov­ing rick­ety ceil­ings and rot­ting floors to im­prove head height and struc­tural sta­bil­ity.

A new RSJ was re­quired to sup­port the first floor, which, Tom says, ‘ felt as though it might have

been held to­gether with pa­per clips,’ re­call­ing the day when builders fi­nally dis­cov­ered some struc­turally sound orig­i­nal beams and a whole new room, pre­vi­ously boarded up, next to the main bed­room. In­stalling the new ceil­ings also al­lowed for sleek, built-in spot­lights and the chance to con­ceal new pipework and wiring.

Oak floor­ing was laid through­out the ground level, en­hanc­ing the feel­ing of space and con­ti­nu­ity. ‘ We were ini­tially go­ing to dis­tress the new boards, but once laid, we re­ally liked their warm honey colour so we left them as they were,’ says Tom.

Once all the build­ing work was com­plete, the cou­ple then ac­quired two cocker spaniels, Ger­ald and Bax­ter, who pro­vided the in­spi­ra­tion for their fab­ric choices. ‘I found dog-themed fab­rics from Emily Bond,’ says Camilla. ‘Coun­try-style tex­tiles work well in this house, be­cause it al­ready feels very ru­ral, even though it’s in the heart of a vil­lage. Emily’s de­signs are fresh, with a re­laxed, fun vibe.’

The cou­ple largely dec­o­rated and fur­nished the house to­gether, sourc­ing ev­ery­thing from bee­hive win­dow locks, door­knobs and coat hooks to paint­ings and quirky touches such as the sil­ver stag’s head hang­ing in the kitchen. They share a taste for old-school com­forts, soft colours and the oc­ca­sional bold paint­ing, cush­ion and throw.

‘ We are a good team,’ says Camilla. ‘My de­sign de­ci­sions were in­evitably in­flu­enced by the Dan­ish style of re­laxed liv­ing, which char­ac­terised my child­hood home and that’s a style that Tom en­joys, too – we’re very pleased with the fin­ished look. This home has proved to be a per­fect get­away. We love walk­ing the dogs in the coun­try­side – and they love spend­ing time here just as much as we do.’

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