It’s not everyday that we get to feature a home that is between 300 and 400 years old, but such is the case for the home of , whose cottage sits in a little hamlet of six ancient properties in Northumberland National Park (northeast England, not far from the Scottish borders). Granted, the house has had some work and has about doubled in size since Di and her husband first purchased it as a weekend retreat in 1997. In 2008, after two years of waiting for planning permission, they extended it, making a huge open-plan space, and it became their permanent home. The two windows in the lounge look over the Tyne Valley, and Di says it’s like having two ever-changing oil paintings on the wall. As for the style, the cottage is an eclectic mix of old and new with a combination of items from their old business, inherited pieces from their parents, pieces from their current business and numerous antiques collected over the years. I love how Di puts it: “It is very important to both of us that our home reflects our lives past and present.” Thanks, Di! —
Photos by .
Image above: Our bedroom sits in the eaves of the cottage in the new extension. Everything had to comply with the strict rules of the National Park and even had to have barn-style roof lights in the upstairs ceilings. The huge chandelier came from our city home, and the bed cover was found in a brocante in the south of France and for many years was used as a curtain before an expert told me it was a bedspread. Never too old to learn!
Image above: The breakfast bar that separates the kitchen from the dining area is made from a tree trunk found in the forest that surrounds us and the bar itself is a huge piece of African padouk, which is one of the hardest woods in the world. The bar is held up by some spare spindles from our spiral staircase.
Image above: The bathroom is in the old part of the cottage, and we love that the bath and basin at are odds with that, as they are ultra-modern. They are made from a soft polypropylene material and have lights inside a double skin. So, uniquely, we light our bathroom with them at night. The bath gets softer when filled with hot water so is an extra comfortable place to relax.
CLICK HERE for the rest of Di’s house tour after the jump!
Image above: In a corner of our bedroom, we have a little French daybed given to us by a good friend in Paris. Each of our grandchildren has slept in this little bed at some time. We found the bolster and cushion on a street corner in the Bois du Boulogne in Paris, in a bag with one other accompanied by a note saying, “please take these.” Who could resist? The Hermes boxes do contain a collection of Hermes scarves, I am pleased to say.
Image above: Our guest bedroom is in the old part of the cottage and often becomes a storage area for works in progress from our . Not a problem. We have painted the ancient floorboards white, which has made a huge difference to the light in the room.
Image above: Our dining table and chairs were inherited. Last year I summoned up the courage to paint them. Old cottages like ours can be dark places with low ceilings and deep-set windows, our walls are three-feet thick, so dark furniture can be daunting. This has made a huge difference to the overall look of the open-plan space, as it immediately opened it up.
Image above: The lounge area is split into male and female. The huge D & H came from the sign of an old pub in Northumberland. The D side is mine and is feminine with a French antique sofa, and the H side is Harvey’s with a leather sofa and lots of wood. The came from and is sculpted to show the landscape of Serge Lesage in France with little snowcapped mountains and even has grass growing out of a little meadow.
Image above: The kitchen has a typical look. Finished with the now-famous paint specially mixed for us in France. We have added framed fruit, a vintage breadboard, an old paint palette, etc. etc. to the doors and walls and even painted the fridge black, edged in bronze. We numbered the doors with little enamel signs from , which is not far from us — happily as it is one of our favourite shops.
Image above: The focal point of the cottage is the cast-iron spiral staircase, which we commissioned. The lattice work treads cast a fabulous light onto the wood floor from the roof light that sits in the ceiling above it.
Image above: Coming from a huge Edwardian house in the city to a cottage in the country caused us some problems, as we had huge pieces that we didn’t want to part with. This chandelier was one of our favourites so we figured if we put it in a corner it would work — and it did.
Image above: The cottage sits on the edge of the village green, so we actually have a sunken garden that surrounds us. We sit on the edge of the hill, which gives us those fabulous views. The front part (with the chimney) is the original building. We used the stone from the dry stone walls that used to be the garden walls to build the extension. These were originally from a byre that was attached to the cottage hundreds of years ago. We discovered the floor of the byre when we excavated so effectively we had put back what was originally there.