Their English Country Cottages
As we walked out of the gate from our first viewing, we both looked back, looked at each other and in crazy unison, both said “this is the one”.
With 8 properties under their belts, Belle and her husband Dave were no strangers to renovation projects but when they looked at the details for these old cottages they immediately discounted them as the project looked so vast and unloveable. Then a new estate agent was appointed, better quality photos were taken and “new life was breathed into the way the house was presented”. The couple viewed immediately and could finally see the amazing potential to create a stunning family home.
The farmhouse itself was in need of love and tenderness, structurally perfect but internally dated. Belle fell in love with all the character features like the old wooden doors and beams and the “higgledy-piggledy” feeling. The attached carrot barn and outbuildings including an old brick built pig sty were derelict but had planning consent for conversion.
Belle and Dave have worked incredibly hard on this enormous project, from the basic necessities of a new kitchen, bathrooms, windows, floors and heating throughout to the huge barn conversion. The main barn was converted to an open plan living space, with oak vaulted mezzanine room to one side. The outbuildings converted to 2 bedrooms and en suites. All three areas of the garden were also renovated to include a full sun drenched patio area with orchard and grass. A vegetable garden with greenhouse, veg beds, Shepherds hut and children’s play area.
Necessities for Belle in a country cottage home are comfort first and foremost. “Yes we all want the perfect home with everything in place and sparkling but that’s far from practical with six year old Charlie and 9 year old Milo and a new puppy. So we ensure we have a home which suits our lifestyle with lots of living space, comfy large sofas, wooden floors to not only look good but practical too. We keep the colours as fresh as we possibly can as our ceilings are quite low in the main cottage, so light is at a premium. We ensure we have rooms for all occasions which helps us have areas for the kids and areas for us adults too”.
The barn provides the flexibility to have the best of both worlds. With its high ceilings and huge windows, the family have created a haven for movie watching, socialising and relaxing whilst the main house is for eating, sleeping and everyday living.
Belle is a graphic designer so it was a dream to be able to plan each room, one by one, looking at the use of each room and how to make the most of the space. Belle feels that her designs are ever evolving so that she has never quite finished a room as her style changes over the years, she will often return to a room and redesign it!
Belle’s use of dark blues and black and white patterns brings a wonderful coherency to the united buildings. Each room features strong natural tones in wood, stone and brick blended beautifully with soft furnishings to create a cosy home. The walls are left relatively plain to allow the furnishings and artwork to sing (and giving Belle the opportunity to change the colour regularly!)
My style is classic with a quirky twist. I like a home to feel like a home. We love entertaining and with a young family, we didn’t want a show home. We collect art so for us it was essential to have a proper comfortable home with the wow coming from pieces of unique furniture and then plenty of art adorning every wall. Art for us brings the home alive, along with bespoke neon signs. I change the colours of my walls and kitchen regularly keeping the structure but colouring the walls and adding accompanying styling extras to keep the rooms fresh and exciting.
Twp of Belle’s favourite interiors books are Etcetera by Sibella Court and Recycled Home by Mark Bailey and both of the decorating aesthetics in these books can be seen clearly in this beautiful home. It is easy to spot that Belle and Dave run a Graphic Design Studio together, these transformed cottages and outbuildings have become something extraordinary. They are beautifully finished, with so much thought and care that has obviously been injected into the building, their passion for art and design shines through in the bold colours and bright works of art yet every room is unified gorgeously. The home flows from room to room with no jarring sensation as one reached the converted barn. This is a perfect marriage of a vibrant, talented young family dragging a couple of mouldering old 1800’s cottage into the 21st Century, giving them a new lease of life for many centuries to come.
To indulge in more gorgeousness and to meet Belle and the bonkers Shopper Dave (Dave presents an Instagram Live every weekend with his best shopping bargains!) head to Belle x Shopper Dave (@designermumetc) • Instagram photos and videos