Their English Country Cottages
There it was: in the bottom corner of the paper, a little cottage covered in Wisteria, in a village just outside Exeter and was exactly what we were looking for.
Strap yourself to your chairs if , like me, you adore floral fabrics, mora clocks, wood clad walls and antique mirrors. Yup, this cottage had me at her Kate Forman cushions that I spotted and yelped “ooh these are my curtains!” “ooh I need cushions..and lampshades in this linen lovely too”. I fell off my non Formaned sofa into a heavy swoon, please be careful, the following images are beautiful.
Josephine Burlingham and her husband were living in Plymouth when the news that they were expecting twins prompted them to return to the Devon countryside to give their children the country idyll that they had both enjoyed when growing up.
Although the cottage looks old, it was actually only built 50 years ago from the original materials of an old barn that had fallen into disrepair. It was designed to fit in sympathetically with the conservation area so there are old beams and none of walls are “hard edged or completely straight”. It has all the benefits of a new building with super thick insulated stone walls but all the character of an old cottage.
You may by now have guessed that Josephine is the most amazing Interior Designer. She studied textile design at college and later studied on an interior design course at home before working in a interior design company. She finally founded Country And Coastal Interiors seven years ago and along with her design assistant Sarah “I couldn’t be without her” has been filling Devonian cottages with joyous fabrics and unbelievable tasteful decoration ever since. When they moved into the cottage 15 years ago, there was a lot of work to do but all this was put on hold until the twins were born “I kept a book beside my bed and wrote down ideas when I thought of them and I’ve been slowly crossing them off the list ever since!”
“Our biggest job was to knock through from the kitchen into the open sided barn outside which we made into our Garden room, it’s the best thing we did, the light now pours into what was a dark kitchen, our old Sitting room became more of a snug and it’s where I create all my schemes and meet with clients.”
Josephine grew up in a Georgian Old Rectory in the heart of Devon. Her parents owned a wonderful collection of antique and vintage pieces that they had inherited or collected over the years. This love of antiques and artwork was inherited by Josephine who loves a mix of old with new “old pieces have an honesty about them, a sense of history and story telling. It makes you feel comfortable, safe, like you’ve come home. I absolutely live and breathe Hygge, the Danish and Norwegian word which depicts cosiness, comfort and contentment, a use of warm layered lighting, candlelight, roaring fires, a mixture of beautiful textures, a sense of hibernation and peace.”
The Tuscan coloured Victorian doll’s house which Josephine inherited from her parents and played with as a child is one of her favourite items in the cottage. “The details inside are incredible”.
The Grandfather clock in the kitchen, another favourite family inheritance. “I sit next to it as I work, it’s so soothing and I notice immediately when it’s stopped and needs re-winding. You can often hear it in the background on my Instagram videos!”
The third firm favourite is the vintage Mora clock in the entrance hall. It’s dated to 1834 and provides elegance and charm.
Josephine cites Emma Hatfield Watkins on Instagram as one of her favourite designers (https://www.instagram.com/hattiehatfield/) – “I could happily move into her home and not change a single thing. I think we both think along the same lines when it comes to interiors, she has a very inviting and charming style, timeless, relaxed and welcoming. Just perfect.”
Country cottage necessities for Josephine include a real fire, wonky walls, natural materials (limestone, seagrass, slate), an Aga, florals, velvets, checks and linens as well as good natural light. Countryside views and lamps with warm white lightbulbs in the evenings, antique and vintage oil paintings and mirrors, super comfortable furniture and beds, heritage wall colours, wall panelling, a freestanding bath, a charming garden, birdsong and a dog are also on the must list.
The dream home for Josephine and her family would be a period property, or a shiplap house with a verandah that wraps around it: “Nothing obviously modern, characterful features, love a wonky floor or wall, lots of natural light and a garden you can step out into easily to enjoy. I’d love to have the extra space to have a utility room, a pantry etc and I’d really love to take work off my kitchen table and into a studio in the garden!”. This family have made this modern cottage into a home filled with character and charm, with stupendously good taste and glorious furnishings but also a home that is welcoming and cosy, I’m not sure many of us would ever want to leave this stunning cottage but with Josephine’s extraordinary talent for marrying style and cosiness, one knows for certain that any home they owned would be drool worthy.
There were a gazillion beautiful images that I wanted to use for this blog but not enough time so please do hop over to Country and Coastal Interiors and gorge yourself on more delicious interiors from this seriously talented lady.
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