A Cottage in South Devon
knew that she wanted a place in the country, but her first view
of the thatched stone and cob cottage in the heart of Devon's South
Hams was less than promising. "It seemed small, dark, badly
laid out and suffering from an overdose of pine tongue and groove
panelling" remembers Diane. "We later found out that it
hid a multitude of sins." However the cottage's position in
beautiful countryside less than a mile from secluded coves and the
surprisingly large garden persuaded her to take it on as a project.
300 year old cottage had originally been a one-up, one down stone
and cob Devon cottage, extended many years ago to create a two bedroom
house with bathroom downstairs and a corridor-like kitchen leading
to a dining area. The first thing Diane did was to move the kitchen
to the end of the cottage and create a proper dining area between
the living room and the kitchen. Upstairs she cleverly converted
a junk room into a smart shower room by borrowing a foot or two
from one of the bedrooms to allow the shower cabinet to be fitted.
The building work which included gutting the property, rewiring,
replumbing, replastering and internal and external decoration was
undertaken by local builders, M and J Pitt, and Diane is delighted
with the results. "I had excellent help and advice from Mike
Pitt, who helped us to save a lot of money with his practical and
was keen to preserve the integrity of the cottage, and therefore
much of the original stone and cob is exposed, contrasting with
the milk white paint ('White Moon' by Crown) of the walls and ceilings
which she chose for the whole house apart from the second bedroom
where there is a warm rosy light ('Rose White' by Dulux). The exposed
beams were sealed and preserved and all the existing modern doors
were replaced with ledge and brace doors with iron latches.
cottage had no heating apart from a wood burning stove in the inglenook
fireplace in the living room. Diane changed the stove for an open
fire with grate and fireback from Adrian Ager and, to retain as
much wall space as possible, she opted for electric underfloor heating
both upstairs and downstairs. There is slate flooring (from Wickes)
throughout the ground floor with the heating wires laid on the screed
underneath the tiles. The system comes from Warm-Up and is thermostatically
controlled. "We keep it on at a low level even on warmer days
so the slate is never cold under bare feet" says Diane. Upstairs
the under carpet heating mat was easily rolled out on top of the
underfelt before the carpet was fitted.
front door of the cottage opens out into the cosy but elegant living
room. "I was concerned to make sure that the cottage retained
a sea-side cottage character; after all we are only half a mile
from the sea here" says Diane. "So I tried to use furnishings
that would reflect that. For example there is a shell motif running
through the living and dining areas, and I have used plain wood,
wicker and natural materials for much of the cottage downstairs.
'London' style furnishings would be completely out of place here."
was working to a budget so much of the furniture is inexpensive
but presented with style. The sofa comes by mail order from the
Sofa Workshop and has removable washable covers which Diane regards
as essential. The table lamps came from 'Blue'in Salcombe, one of
Diane's favourite shops. The two wicker chairs and the stone vase
with dried grasses came from another favourite shop, Teri Walter's
'W' in Padstow. "It's an excellent place for ideas and has
a wonderful stock of carefully chosen items" enthuses Diane.
The cottage style lights and shades which give the room a great
deal of character were ordered from the Jim Lawrence website and
Diane was impressed by their efficiency and service. The two cabinets
were snapped up at a sale at Furnitureland. "I had seen them
before but I didn't want to wait for delivery" smiles Diane.
"When I see something I like I want it straight away!"
dining room is small but feels spacious, thanks to the table and
chairs from Habitat. The beech block table reflects the beech effect
worktop in the kitchen and along with the exposed beams create a
light honey tone for the room, complemented by natural wicker chairs
which provide a visual link with the living room. The lighting again
was supplied by Jim Lawrence and the shell theme is picked up in
their delightful scallop design.
kitchen is a triumph of planning, in a small area Diane has managed
to fit in a fridge, dishwasher, washer dryer, double oven and hob
as well as cupboards for pans, tableware and food. One trick she
used for maximising space was to use wall cupboards on the floor
on one side of the kitchen, they are the same height but less deep
and also cheaper than standard units. The dishwasher is a slimline
version and she made sure that the fridge has a freezer compartment
for frozen food. The appliances were sourced over the internet from
Trade Appliances and Diane is delighted that she was able to save
so much compared to list prices. The oven and touch control ceramic
hob is made by Baumatic, as is the washer dryer, the dishwasher
came from Zanussi and the fridge from Electrolux.
the bathroom, like in the kitchen, Diane needed to be space conscious
and with the help of Thompson's of Plymouth she found a Shires suite
and taps which fitted the room. The slate floor extends into this
room and Diane chose limed oak for the bath panel to complement
the natural look and a range of tiles which she felt picked out
the colours in the flooring. The accessories came from Selfridges
in London. Diane says "the book rest over the bath is perfect
for when you're enjoying a good soak!" In the upstairs shower
room Diane wanted to create a nautical look; there are white tiles
with sleek chrome borders and a chrome porthole mirror from Nauticalia.
The handbasin is by Heritage and the chrome accessories came from
Marks and Spencer. The shower door is made by Matki and the electric
shower is the 'Sports' model by Mira. Diane is delighted by the
shower, "It gives a really powerful spray and, being electric,
means that it works even if someone is running a bath at the same
time. It's also useful if we are returning from being away and don't
want to wait for the hot water system to heat up."
bedrooms present contrasting styles. The main bedroom boasts a sea
view and Diane wanted to create a sea captain's bedroom with mahogany
butler's trays from Cargo and a model yacht on the window sill.
The curtains are from Sanderson and the brass pole teams with the
lantern wall lights which came from the Kensington Lighting Company
in London. In her second bedroom with its deep set casement windows
under the thatch, Diane decided on a more floral and cottagey look.
The cream bedside tables came from Blue in Salcombe and the wall
uplighters with their floral cut-outs came from Laura Ashley. The
bedlinen is made by Dorma.
has transformed her cottage into a home with flair and comfort on
a limited budget. As she says with a smile "All we need now
is fine weather!"
traditional cottage has been turned into a light and airy seaside
living room uses natural materials to echo the exposed stonework.
dining room with beech block table.
kitchen with appliances sourced from the internet is a triumph of
bedrooms have a nautical...
and a cottage atmosphere.
garden has palms and banana trees.
of the secluded coves nearby.
Builders 01548 810633
Adrian F. Ager, Ashburton, Devon 01364 653189
The Floor Show, Modbury, Devon 01548 830909
Blue, Salcombe, Devon 01548 842262
Teri Walter, Padstow, Cornwall 01841 532292
Kensington Lighting Co., London 020 7938 2405
Thompsons, Plymouth, Devon 01752 204860
Cargo, London 0207 580 2895
Moyses beds, Kingsbridge, Devon 01548 852168