The Strawberry Hill Gothic façade was a major attraction for the homeowners, Jane and Richard Stark. ‘We were looking for an extra bedroom and a garden,’ says Jane. ‘This was much bigger than we intended but it had character and was slightly quirky. It had a warm, cosy feel and felt like our forever family home.’ See: Cottage decorating ideas – charming ways to get a characterful look The house had begun life as a cottage and then was extended over some 100 years until in the 1800s the Strawberry Hill Gothic facade was added. The house was in good condition so didn’t require much modernisation. Several of the windows were repaired, some missing roof tiles were replaced, the walls repointed and the exterior repainted.  ‘Because the house is Grade II listed, work had to be done using traditional methods and materials,’ says Richard.

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An instant transformation occurred when they changed the colour around the windows from a yellowy orange shade into a fresh green that complements the original brickwork and the cream walls. But it’s the interior of the house that really comes alive with colour and character. Take a tour to discover its unique style.

See: This Dorset farmhouse renovation revealed a fascinating past

Entrance hall library

The large hall sits at one end of the house, opposite the snug. ‘When we first viewed the house, it was full of ancestral portraits and antelope heads,’ says Richard. ‘We were daunted by the scale of the room, then we had the idea of making it a library room and making it feel cosier.’  They used a dramatic wallpaper from Lewis & Wood (opens in new tab) to create a feature wall. To complement the eclectic feel, the couple replaced the existing heavy metal lantern with a chandelier by Tom Raffield (opens in new tab). ‘We wanted something lighter and airier than what was originally there. We had seen some of Tom’s lights at a friend’s and we commissioned a long chandelier created out of wood shavings.’ The combination of the panelling, bold patterned wallpaper and the wooden chandelier has turned what was a somewhat cold, large, anonymous room into somewhere that feels much more welcoming. ‘By bringing the colours and textures of the garden into the room, it makes it feel more uplifting and connected to nature,’ says Jane.


The snug is decorated in bold tones. ‘We thought this house could take colour because it’s so big. We knew we could always paint over if necessary,’ says Jane. The starting point for the scheme was a teal blue velvet chair. ‘I wanted the room to feel like a jewellery box and bought the teal chair and a purple one,’ says Jane. ‘I then had to work out what colour would work with those jewel colours. A teal paint by Paint & Paper Library pulls the look together, and Jane has introduced gold accessories to complement the teal scheme.  The gilded cabinet is from India Jane (opens in new tab). Gold beetle, Graham & Green (opens in new tab).  The window seat with a boldly patterned cushion makes a comfy perch from which to admire the garden.  Velvet loveseat and stool, Sofa Workshop (opens in new tab). Large cushion and rug, Scumble Goosie (opens in new tab).

Living room

A classic scheme was chosen for the living room. ‘I spotted some fabric I loved in an interiors shop and I thought it would work for the curtains,’ says Jane. ‘I built the rest of the room around it. We chose a bold blue – Blue Blood by Paint & Paper Library – for the walls, which is such a soothing colour.’ It is offset with neutral furniture and raw wood furniture from Scumble Goosie, which gives it a relaxed look. ‘We saw this house as being like a big cottage and raw wood furniture works really well as it introduces a cosy country feel.’ See: Living room ideas – clever ways to decorate living spaces


The kitchen with its Shaker-style units was given a refresh with neutral cabinets complementing the cream Aga and the rustic wooden beams.  The island has been painted in the same teal as the snug walls to link the two rooms and add drama. Island painted in Teal by Paint & Paper Library. Units painted in Truffle by Paint & Paper Library. Bar stools, Loaf (opens in new tab).  See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for all kitchens 

Dining area

At one end of the kitchen is a cosy dining area, with a circular table that breaks up the long line of the room. A gallery wall with different coloured photo frames adds interest to the walls, while a painted sideboard found in an antiques shop provides plenty of storage. 


Upstairs, the decor has taken a softer tone. Jane has opted for a classic look with damask and floral accessories that suit the bedroom. The bed and chair are from Loaf. Chest of drawers and mirror, local antiques shop find. See: Bedroom ideas – designs and inspiration for beautiful bedrooms


A rolltop bath adds classic elegance and fits neatly beneath the eaves. ‘We are very lucky that each room has some lovely architectural features that make the room interesting already, so we wanted to make sure to highlight these features,’ says Jane. ‘Ultimately, we wanted to make the house feel welcoming and comfortable, respecting its history but not old fashioned and stuffy, refreshed and brought up to date but not too modern.’  For more cottage bathroom ideas, don’t miss our dedicated gallery.