The cottage’s historic connections and Grade-II listing would be sufficient in themselves to make this one of the world’s best homes, but add to that its characterful French-style décor, and beautifully curated vintage and antique furnishings and this property really is something special.  For the past few years it’s been home to seasoned renovators Christina Dickinson and her husband Nigel. The couple weren’t intending to buy a long-term home when they found the thatched cottage. However, as soon as saw it they loved it and recognised its potential – even though it needed a substantial amount of work, as well as a new thatched roof.  They saw past the overgrown front garden, which made the cottage very dark, and despite the yellow and tangerine paintwork, they could see it was light and spacious, even with its beams and low ceilings. 

Living room

By painting the walls white, and whitewashing the ceiling beams, the cottage was dramatically updated and brightened. Nowhere was the transformation more striking than in the living room. Living room ideas here include using a palette of soft blues, grays and neutrals to create a cosy, welcoming ambience. A homemade light fitting fashioned from willow branches and LED fairy lights i an ingenious way of avoiding fitting electrics around the ancient beams. The paintings over the fireplace are by Simon Hadley Attard (opens in new tab).


There is no shortage of inspiration here for anyone looking for kitchen ideas for a period property, and there are practical solutions, too. How do you fit a new kitchen in an old property like this? The answer, Christina decided, is you don’t. Instead, she found an antique butcher’s block and a large larder cupboard more in keeping with the historic surroundings, and luckily they fitted the space perfectly. She also commissioned some classic Shaker cabinets, which were custom-built by a local carpenter. 

Dining area

In the cosy dining space, there are more tricks of the light. White painted walls and beams open up the room, softening the boundaries to make it look larger. Anyone looking for dining room ideas for a smaller space would do well to opt for a round dining table, as here, while a large floor-standing mirror helps to enhance the sense of space. The walls are painted in White Clay by Earthborn Paints (opens in new tab), which is used throughout the house

The snug

One of the biggest challenges was replastering the cob walls in the oak-beamed snug. The couple couldn’t find a local plasterer experienced in heritage properties who was available within their timescale. Luckily, Nigel is very handy and managed to do it himself with help from a local firm of heritage lime plasterers. They told the couple ’this house was built with love, mud, horsehair and straw. Treat your cob with love and treat it gently’! They also taught Christina and Nigel how to throw the cob plaster at the wall. ‘It looks a bit like grey porridge when it first goes on,’ she says. ‘Once it turns white, you apply the next layer.’ The cottage is one of the oldest houses in the village and Christina wanted to use antique furniture as much as possible, saying they are usually far better made than modern pieces and have a zero carbon footprint, which is another huge advantage. Both the barley twist table and smart French-style carved armchair were antiques shop finds.


Anyone in search of bedroom ideas, will find plenty of inspiration in the cottage’s three bedrooms. All have elements of French style, and a coastal vibe – influenced by the owners’ previous homes in southern France and by the sea. Christina collects vintage and new cotton quilts, which she has layered up in this guest room. She even used one to upholster the panels on the French-style bed.  Denim blue and white décor continues the coastal theme in the second guest room, above. Christina bought the blue quilt and cushions locally and collaborated with local artist Tina Stokes to produce the picture above the bed.  The main bedroom, above, has a distinctly French feel. Christina bought the quilted cotton bedspread at Forever England, and the Danish company Madam Stoltz makes similar round white linen cushions, available through Trouva. The French Bedroom Company is a good place to source similar French-style beds  Rethatching the roof was a priority once the couple had moved in – note the rooftop hares, a signature touch from the master thatcher. The wooden window frames are painted in Parma Gray and the front door is painted in St Giles Blue, both by Farrow & Ball.  Now that the project is complete, Christina and Nigel are both delighted they made the move and say the cottage suits their lifestyle perfectly. There’s a cosy atmosphere when there’s just the two of them at home, but plenty of space for family and visitors. After completing an astonishing tally of 14 renovations on previous homes, it seems they have at last found their forever home.  Original feature:  Jane Bowles