Cottage renovation inspiration

rediscovering a little gem

We probably all have a place and even particular property which we can say - 'oh I'd love to live there'.  Elsie's was ours, we walked past it pretty much daily on dog walks and family rambles. So when it came up for sale, we did everything we could to make it ours and set about our renovation journey using inspiration from the natural world.

Set on the side of Ragged stone hill in the hamlet of White leaved Oak, up a little track is this little cottage. The place is full of history and namesake of an ancient tree now gone. Where ley line cross it denotes the meeting of the three counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. We knew we wanted Elsie's as soon as we saw her listed, and once won we set about uncovering her treasures.

When renovating this little cottage we concentrated on finding the natural features and celebrating the raw rustic unfinished bones of her. Exposed beams and boards tell the story of her past with remnants of old wallpapers and paint. The quarry tiled floor is untouched and bears the scars of walls and stairways long gone.

Once covered under plaster, the reassuringly weighty Malvern Stone walls add a warmth in  olive rust tones whilst the oversized inglenook consumes the lounge demanding to be centre of attention. And why wouldn't it, as source of warmth and hub of the home in days gone by its role may have been subsumed by more practical kitchen forms, but it will not be ignored.

Once the bare bones of this little cottage had been uncovered, we went about adding a fitting extension and rebuilt her using materials which celebrated the setting of this little cottage.

So here is the story of our demure design, not big or grand, but (in our humble view) perfectly formed.

creating a place to sit and stare

Sitting on the side of Ragged stone hill at the southern ribbon of the Malvern Hills, makes for a perfect setting.  Building on the side of a hill is a tad challenging.

The views to the rear of the cottage look out over a valley and the steep tiered garden. A perfect spot for dining, cooking and listening to the owls hoot and bats dart about under moon.

The rickety wooden structure that existed would have put the fear of God in most - so we knew we needed to build a terrace for outdoor living.  It meant a laborious digging out, and back filling of the site. to build up a terrace.  We decided to line the sides in oak sleepers and finish with wire so as not to interrupt the view.

I found a metal dining set at one of the regular antiques fairs and invested in a zinc topped table from Baileys Home for the pizza oven to live. The festoon lights and sail add to the ambience and make for a perfect space to dine into the night.

A fitting addition

A a holiday cottage, the space in Elsie's was big enough for two.  We felt the cottage needed an entrance, for all the rural clobber of coats and boots that country life demand.  Adding another bedroom would make it big enough to share with friends and family too.

The existing conservatory was a bit of an eyesore and rather stuck out against the quietness of the stone at Elsies. We designed a quieter addition, shrouded in burnt larch with a roofline to compliment the cottage, and reduced the glare of glass so as not to disturb the wildlife. Now it's the trees and greenery that stand out rather than the glare not the glass.

Inside we created a hallway and a bedroom with doors to the terrace and garden. It's a simple room, using our signature style of industrial and rustic with vintage finds to add interest. Simple linens hang at the doors and a wonderful carved floor standing mirror make for a focal point.

Finding the right flow

When I first came to think about Elsie's as a space it was tough to get my head around hte warren of rooms, inner hallways and sub divided rooms.  It took a long time to work out hte layout, and we pretty much redesignedhte flow of the house completely.

On entering Elsies a kitchen led to a boiler room, separate toilet and bathroom. Leading off hte kitchen was a hallway, with stairs and a separate sitting room, with a rather under whelming fireplace. It all felt so boxy and uninspiring.

We went through so many different layouts, but ended up sticking with the kitchen and bathroom staying where they were, but by removing a few inner walls, helped to open up the space. We punched a couple of holes in the lean-to roof to add light and sandblasted the whole of the downstairs.

Once covered under plaster and paint, the reassuringly weighty Malvern Stone walls add a warmth in olive rust tones whilst the oversized inglenook consumes the lounge demanding to be centre of attention. And why wouldn't it, as source of warmth and hub of the home in days gone by, its role may have been reduced, but it will not be ignored.

cottage kitchen

Feeding your soul and being is what kitchens are all about. Cooking up delicious feasts or simple suppers whilst chatting and raising a glass is so much more pleasurable  - who wants to be left in the kitchen on your own!

We set about sandblasting beams and the walls, stripping plaster off walls to uncover the olive rusty tones of Malvern stone.

When padding down in the morning for coffee, you want warm tootsies so under foot heating beneath limestone slabs makes for comfort and compliments the fabric of the cottage.

Oak cabinets are painted in forest green and made space for a rustic reclaimed table. dining in comfort with rich velvet chairs and gnarled elm bench for curling up with a coffee in the morning. Open waney edge elm shelving sets off the Denby crockery against the grey Malvern stone.

Bathing in splendour

Bathrooms are not just about cleanliness. More, about winding down at the end of a long day with a long soak in a bath of bubbles or under a downpour in a walk in shower all designed to wash away the stresses of life.

Spaces encourage us to relax, and put us at our ease. None more than the bathroom. Rich finishes with room for all your bits and bobs, warm floors for bare feet and little touches you have notice having time to stop and appreciate the little things.

Elsie's bathroom is a triumph of unusual, quirky and rustic. Oak posts from which taps are mounted, re-purposed  verdigris copper panels mounted on the walls, reclaimed chest of drawers the perfect vanity unit and crackle green tiles match with copper rainfall shower are all feasts for the eyes.

After the rabbit warren of tiny rooms had been removed the bathroom emerged as a large space, and we went to town adding both walk in shower and rolling top bath. A mix of lighting  and the addition of a window make the space brighter.

It is a real triumph and in no small part due to Steve's hard work and our love of reclamation yard hunting.

Elsie's - Made for down time

Elsie's is designed with you in mind. That is, for your holiday time, not for the everyday. Pared back yet chock full of richness for the eyes and soul.

So packed full of textures and finishes yet low on trinkets and decorative pieces.

I made the space meld together with colours, tones textures and the aim was to help you sigh kick back and relax.

Of course I can't take any credit for the real beauty of Elsie's and that is nature. Framing and access to the outdoors is what Elsie's is really there for. Walks, cycles and hikes up hills, are what it invited you to do, and Elsie's is made for resting your bones and rejuvenation, in spaces that give you a hug, and invite you to stop.

We'd love to host you at Elsie's. Available to book for short breaks and week stays throughout the year.  Sleeping 4 in two bedrooms.

Stays start from £440


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