The Little Corner Cottage

Their English Country Cottages

My favourite items are my Aga and my garden sauna!

Tonja Barefield

This fabulous quote from Tonja absolutely sums up her stunning cottage, it is an old traditional stone cottage set in the glorious countryside of Somerset but the stunning interiors have a wonderfully European flavour with white walls and a plethora of French influenced fabrics, antique Swedish furniture and English faded florals.

Tonja and her family began house hunting for a bigger home with more outdoor space, with twins then aged 10, two dogs; Rupert and Hilde and two guinea pigs the family were desperate for a bigger garden . Tonja was keen to live in a village location, but it took a while to convince her husband Stuart to move away from town life.

The family spotted the cottage on Rightmove but initially decided that it was too small. After several other unsuccessful viewings, they decided to investigate. “As soon as I stepped in, I knew that this was the cottage we had been looking for! It was in excellent location, surrounded by beautiful countryside with lots of potential. It was also below our budget, which meant that we could start renovating it as soon as we would move in rather than saving to do one area at the time.”

Originally the village was owned by the nearby Orchardleigh estate and these cottages were originally built for the estate workers but sadly the properties were sold off one by one during the break-up of the estate during the 1970’s. During the 1860’s the village was remodelled so that it provided a pleasant aspect for the Duckworth family when they attended the local church.

The cottage was originally two cottages that were joined together in the 1980’s. The family have made their own changes over the last three years, ripping out all the old carpets and exposing the original wooden floorboards, painting all the walls, completely renovating the beautiful kitchen/diner and bathroom. They also removed two walls downstairs to create more space. An additional roof was added to the back of the house to create a boot room and utility room. Tonja and Stuart have also added a fireplace, refurbished windows, re-pointed the exterior stonework and landscaped the garden. They also shipped in a wonderful garden sauna from Finland! The renovation took a couple of years but they are almost finished creating their beautiful home.

Tonja admits that she didn’t have a rigid decoration plan in place when they moved in, “We had ideas before we moved in, but these evolved during our time in the cottage”. She describes her beautiful style as “English country cottage mixed with French and Scandinavian interiors style”.

I like very feminine, light and faded interiors with a mixture of antique/vintage and new. My favourite designer is Kate Forman – I have used many of her floral prints in my house and absolutely love her style! I also love Susie Watson and Hogben pottery.

Country cottage necessities for Tonja include lots of vintage prints framed on the walls, floral prints and crochet quilts. “Cushions and comfy sofas! Fireplaces and plenty of cosy places to sit, knit or read a book. My favourite items are my garden sauna and my Aga! I love cooking and relaxing in the sauna at the end of the day. My husband’s favourite item is our Jotul wood burner, which we found from eBay”.

Tonja cites the wonderful Rachel Ashwell books as some of her favourite inspirational interiors books as well as the Farrow and Ball books. She says that she obtains most of her interior ideas from Instagram and Pinterest. Her dream home would be an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, preferably with a nice, warm climate and by the lake! Although this cottage is quintessentially English on the outside, those dreams of romance and lake swimming, of warmer climates with pale interiors and heavenly Scandanavian pared back living melded beautifully with ancient french beauty are all so cleverly amalgamated into this English Country Cottage with nary a whisper of jarring or contradiction. It takes a really good eye for interior design to marry so many styles so brilliantly.

To see more of Tonja’s beautiful home, head to


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

September 1, 2023 at 12:32 pm

Absolutely gorgeous cottage loved ❤️every room

Rebecca Lovattreply
September 27, 2023 at 12:17 pm
– In reply to: Debi

Ohh thank you so much xxxx

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