Their English Country Cottages
I instantly fell in love with the sash windows, the long path to the front door, the enclosed garden and the seclusion of the cottage
Eighteen months before Anna and her partner Andrew had sold their respective houses and started looking for a home together, Anna had spotted this gem of a cottage but dismissed the cottage as out of her price range. Fortunately when they began to house hunt in earnest they realised that the cottage remained unsold, the asking price had been lowered just in time for them to snap it up and 8 years ago they moved into this beautiful home bordering the stunning counties of Norfolk and Suffolk (this is definitely not my biased opinion!).
Built in 1890 as a farm workers cottage for a local landowners farm estate, the Hall from which the cottage is named, can be seen over the fields. built in the the same style, Norfolk red brick, Flemish bond and identical sash windows.
The cottage was extended in 2003 doubling it’s size, the garden was a lovely size and the area was beautiful – all woodland trust, a heath, river walks and country lanes on their doorstep with the sea only a few miles away. The perfect idyll.
In the first year of living in this haven, it became clear that the exterior of the older cottage had been somewhat neglected. The roof began to leak, which resulted in replacing the entire roof where years of nesting house sparrows had pecked holes in the roof felt and the old clay tiles had become porous. When the soffits and guttering were replaced the roofing men pulled out 20 bin bags of old nests from the eaves!
The old part of the house was then repointed with lime mortar although this was not related to the roof but to do with a barrage of unwanted guests in the shape of newts finding their way into the living room, coming up through holes in the old mortar aided by the damp soil that had banked up against the house.
A neglected ditch caused outbuildings to flood in heavy rain which then involved more expense getting the drainage and a retaining wall built to resolve the issue. The beautiful star attraction 16 windows also required a lot of TLC with painting, new window sills and glazing. This is well told tale of old properties that cast a spell over the enamoured new owners, each buyer goes into the sale with their eyes open to the work and cost and yet…and yet the cottages still throw up little money eaters – newts! they don’t tend to come up on the structural survey…
Thankfully the interior of the house just needed cosmetic updating; new bathrooms and traditional column style radiators were installed. But whilst the exterior of the house is full of character, the inside has sadly lost most if it’s original features; “we have a wood burner, cast iron fireplace, parquet floor and a tiny beam at the top of the stairs but that is pretty much it”. The only other cottagey clues are the wonky walls, low ceilings and quirky layout: the staircase was turned round when the cottage was extended, meaning the stairs are at the back of the house and come out into the utility room. Anna and Andrew also have to walk through the study to get from the kitchen to the stairs.
Anna has cleverly combatted the lack of original features by filling the cottage with amazing wallpapers and bold colour choices that beautifully roll through the cottage.
Glorious wallpaper from Harlequin – Cranes in flight antique gold
My starting point for every room is always incorporating the furniture and things I already own. I have a jumble of furniture, 80’s pine and 90’s oak which have all been painted over the years, I have inherited family items as well as antique pieces that I have bought with the intention of painting but have since preserved, as I like the patina of the wood.
I particularly love old sets of hardback books and can always find room for another cushion or basket!
Country cottage necessities for Anna include “the obligatory wood burner”, somewhere to kick off muddy boots, cushions, rugs, throws and candles for curling up in cosiness, a sheepskin on a footstool to keep feet warm in the winter is also a must!
Anna classes her style as ‘modern country cottage’: “I like colour and pattern, I’m partial to a bit of wallpaper.
I have botanical wallpaper from Woodchip and Magnolia in the small spare room and Morris & Co wallpaper in our bedroom as well as a bird print wallpaper in my study and bathroom. The decor slowly evolves with the house and life, I consider decorating as a hobby, which means no room is ever truly going to be completely finished”.
Anna and Andrew have created such an incredible home. The colour choices and wallpapers, the crafts and the creativity have rejuvenated a much knocked about cottage, given it a new lease of life and a wonderful modernity but with the use of antiques and classic prints the age and character of the property is not lost. No wonder Anna says that this is her dream house (although the wearied cottage dweller in her adds “perhaps where money was no object and I didn’t need to compromise on the interior design ever!”). How wonderful to pour so much creativity, vision and hard work into a property and to feel that one has achieved one’s dream – even if that dream changes colour and wallpaper every few months!!!
I would have my dream kitchen, have the entire garden landscaped and surrounded by a wildlife friendly invisible shield that repelled Muntjac so I could grow climbing roses up the front of the house and have a front garden stuffed full of cottage perennials
To revel in more wonderful wallpapers and colours, head to Anna’s instagram account https://www.instagram.com/hall_farm_cottage/