Do you love the clean lines, neutral colours and natural materials of calming Scandi interiors, but equally covet a country cottage rustic period features? Then this house is brimming with inspiration to steal in order to strike the balance of character and clutter-free living. Read on to see how lifestyle blogger Jess Williams together with partner Jason, transformed the cottage into a serene space that nurture's the soul.
Inspired to tackle your own project? We have masses of ideas and helpful advice on what to do and where to start in our feature on house renovation. For more real home transformations, head to our hub page.
Owners Jessica, a writer and slow lifestyle blogger (jessicarosewilliams.com (opens in new tab)), and Jason Williams, a financial adviser, live here with Dolly, their Cavalier spaniel.
Property A traditional, three-bedroom stone cottage in the Peak District, Derbyshire, originally built in around 1850. It has had two extensions, one with an unknown date, the last was in 2014.
What they did Jessica completely revamped the interior which was traditionally decorated with carpets throughout and patchwork tiling. The previous owners had kept the cottage in good condition and had maintained all of its original features. Jessica had the floors sanded
and painted and the kitchen was given an update. No structural work was needed.
After living in the city for a few years, Jessica was ready for a change from fast-paced urban life and wanted to escape to a rural village – she just had to find the right home to convince her husband to take the leap. The couple’s first house was a three-bedroom new build, and the little cottage Jessica found couldn’t have been more different. ‘I fell in love with this house because it has beautiful bones,’ says Jessica. ‘I could see the potential the minute we walked through the front door on our first viewing. It felt like home.’
The cottage is perfectly nestled in an idyllic village in the Peak District. Jessica loved how quiet it was, not to mention the great walks straight from the front door and views of horses in the nearby field. ‘Jason loved it too,’ she says. ‘All his practical requests went out of the window when he saw this place, and he was determined to seal the deal.’ The couple put in an offer in September 2017, and within a few months the cottage was theirs.
One of the things that really caught Jessica’s imagination was the history of the cottage. ‘It’s important to me to honour its heritage, and so I see myself as more of its keeper,’ she says. ‘I’d never dream of doing anything too modern in here or, heaven forbid, putting in uPVC windows.’
With its patchwork tiles and orange pine furniture, the interior was much more traditional in style to Jessica’s vision, so once she and Jason moved in at the end of April 2018, they got started with the renovations straight away. Because the previous owners had really cared for the cottage, most of the changes were cosmetic.
‘As soon as we moved in we took out all the carpets because I wanted hard floors throughout,’ says Jessica. ‘We were mostly lucky with what we found underneath but we had to have a new floor in the little bedroom due to some rot.
We sanded the rest of the floors, finished the oak floor downstairs in a natural light finish and painted the upstairs pine floorboards white.’ These simple changes made all the difference and already Jessica could see the beauty of their new home coming to life. For cohesion and calm, they painted the entire house the same colour - Loft White by Little Greene with the floors in All White by Farrow & Ball.
Jessica’s goal was to create a simple, functional home that felt calm and cosy, and reflected them as a couple. ‘I love the minimal, light spaces in Scandinavian design and visiting Sweden last year really inspired me,’ she says. ‘I liked their relaxed approach to interiors, and the way they mix old with new and use texture to add interest to simple schemes. I’m also passionate about the environment so I enjoy curating spaces with vintage pieces.’
Jessica was keen to work with what they had already. ‘Too much clutter creates stress for me,’ she says. ‘I much prefer simple spaces and muted colours. I like everything I own to bring me joy or have a purpose. William Morris’ “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” is my mantra.’
By August 2018 Jessica and Jason were ready to tackle the kitchen, which needed the most work. The old units and appliances are still there but they took out the tiles, top cupboards, wooden worktops and lino flooring. They put in open shelving, painted the units white, added quartz worktops and installed underfloor heating as there was no heating at all when they moved in, finishing with slate tiles. In July last year, they swapped the slate tiles for terracotta to add more warmth to the scheme. ‘The vintage bench against the wall is one of my favourite features,’ says Jessica. ‘Visitors always sit there while I’m making them a drink.’
To the left of the front door is the dining area, which leads onto the living room. To keep the two spaces linked the floor was sanded throughout and the walls painted in white. Shelves were fitted next to the fireplace where logs were originally stored, to house the couple’s books. Under the staircase, a charming nook has been turned into Jessica’s work area with the addition of a small desk.
Upstairs, the couple painted all the floorboards and walls white. It gives a fresh look and helps to lighten up the spaces while retaining the cosy cottage feel. ‘Because the house is quite small it’s important that all the rooms work hard and are multi-functional,’ says Jessica. ‘We’ve made the most of every alcove and have used the wall space, too, with hooks and peg rails.’
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‘The biggest mistakes I made were a result of rushing in. I went with a lot of dark interiors before I’d had chance to live in the cottage long enough to figure out what it needed,’ explains Jessica. ‘All the dark I played with has disappeared now.
The black bath is now white, the slate floor is terracotta and the Jacobean oak floor and beams downstairs are natural. I think you have to make mistakes to figure out what you like. I’m not afraid to have a go and then redo things if I don’t like them.'
‘Our homes are the setting for our lives and it’s important we’re happy with the way they look and feel. I’m really looking forward to spending the future in our beautiful cottage.’