Interiors inspiration: a colourful Cotswolds cottage
Longing to reconnect with the countryside, Amelia Harvey has brought a lacklustre Cotswolds gem to life with love, care and a riot of vibrant colour. Photographs Rachael Smith
Despite the whistle-stop nature of her first viewing, Amelia Harvey immediately saw how she could transform this pretty Cotswolds cottage into a colourful bolthole. Her London home, with its bleached oak flooring and Crittall doors, ‘has a pared-back, modern look’, she explains. ‘But here, I wanted to be more daring, to complement and enhance the cottage’s charming idiosyncrasies.’
Having been brought up in the countryside, Amelia has happy memories of halcyon rural days, and although firmly settled in the city, she had long-wanted her young son to experience the freedom she had enjoyed as a child. The plan was to buy a second home that she could also let out but, one way or another, life got in the way, and she never had time to explore the idea properly.
But in March 2020, during lockdown, like many people, Amelia had a chance to reassess her life and future. And she finally started her search for a second home. ‘I started scouring the internet for cottages in the Cotswolds – one of my favourite areas of the UK,’ she says, adding that she further limited her search to an area within five miles of Kingham, which has a good rail link to London.
Intrigued by images of a handsome Grade II-listed cottage that had once served as accommodation for staff who worked at the nearby Jacobean manor house, Shipton Court, Amelia arranged a viewing for the moment lockdown restrictions eased. On ‘a dazzling, sunny day at the end of May’, she drove to the quaint village of Shipton-under-Wychwood with all its ‘honey-coloured houses’, and was completely enchanted by both the cottage and its idyllic setting. But Amelia wasn’t the only person dreaming of owning a beautiful bolthole in the Cotswolds: she was one of several potential buyers, all of whom were limited to a 10-minute time slot in which to explore the property.
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Although the viewing was ‘a bit of a blur’, Amelia was impressed with the cottage’s potential, as well as the far-reaching views across the rolling countryside, the versatility of the annexe and the secluded walled garden. ‘Even in that short space of time, I felt that the cottage had a warm, welcoming feel,’ she says. It seemed structurally sound and, as far as she could see, it only needed new bathrooms and cosmetic changes.
Biting the bullet, she immediately put in an offer and, by the time she arrived back in London that evening, it had been accepted and the property had been taken off the market. ‘It was an impulsive buy, but I’d weighed up the risks and took comfort in knowing that, since the start of the pandemic, the Cotswolds had become even more of a property hotspot,’ she adds. A fortnight later, returning to the cottage on a grey, wet day, Amelia was still just as enamoured.
‘That visit was much more relaxed,’ she says. Having a passion for interiors and the experience of renovating several properties, she quickly started picturing how she would transform the blank canvas. Keen to get started, she hired a local builder, Karl Moore, whose knowledge of working with listed building projects proved invaluable. What was to be a three-month renovation began that September, and Amelia was able to stay in the annexe two days every week in order to manage the project.
As the cottage took shape, Amelia turned her attention to the decor, choosing a rich palette of paint colours and striking wallpaper. ‘Until then, I’d only ever included hints of colour in my interiors,’ she says, but the cottage’s nooks, crannies and surprise features prompted her to embrace and celebrate its quirkiness, she explains. Inspired by homes she had admired in magazines and on social media, as well as interior designers including Nicola Harding, Clarence & Graves, Beata Heuman and Laura Stephens, Amelia chose jewel-like shades, ranging from deep greens to punchy pinks, with splashes of ochre, vivid blues and pops of red and aubergine.
When it came to sourcing furniture, Amelia felt that a mix of antique and mid-century pieces would not only inject the eclectic feel she yearned for, but would also complement the period features. ‘The sideboard in the living room was actually the first mid-century piece I’d ever bought,’ she says. ‘It looked fabulous beside the original stone fireplace and set the tone for the cottage.’
In each room, Amelia created a scheme inspired by one particular colour. ‘For example, in the main bedroom, the starting point was the green backboard behind the bed. I chose a contrasting pink for the soft furnishings and accessories and pulled this combination through to the en suite.’ As well as buying online from Vinterior and eBay, Amelia became a regular customer at Station Mill Antiques Centre in Chipping Norton.
After sourcing eye-catching furniture and soft furnishings, Amelia turned her thoughts to artwork. A bright red beetle painting and bold botanicals from her friend, Adam Ellis, now hang in the living room. Other artwork was sourced from online stores, including eBay and Musée Home, to add the final homely touches to each space. ‘When I arrive, I take a deep breath and look forward to quality time spent walking our labradoodle, Ralph, in the countryside, horse riding, having family and friends round for a meal, or just reading quietly in front of the fire. The change of pace is definitely good for the soul.’
The living room
The stone fire surround is a stunning focal point in the spacious living room, where the beams have been exposed. Amelia sourced a new woodburner from Charnwood. After falling in love with the shape and colour of the mid-century rattan coffee table, which she spotted on eBay, Amelia decided it would work perfectly with her pink love seat from Loaf and sofa from Made. The flowers are by Enchanted Floristry.
The blue Aga is a wonderful contrast with the kitchen units, painted in Mylands’ Brompton Road. The handles were changed to antique brushed brass, while a combination of quartz and wooden worktops were fitted.
Andrew Martin’s Mythical Land wallpaper mural, with its giant pears and fantastical creatures, has injected warmth and fun into the renovated kitchen. The velvet cushions are from Cox & Cox.
Painting the bannister in Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke links each space together in this thoughtfully designed home.
Natural light floods into the landing, where the wood was stripped to create a window seat area, complete with a velvet Cox & Cox cushion
Amelia followed the lead of renovators My Tiny Estate (@mytinyestate on Instagram) to create a backboard behind the bed, boxing in the electricals and creating storage. The backboard is painted in Mylands’ Brompton Road and the wall lights are from Pooky. Amelia sourced a rattan headboard from La Redoute, plus accessories from OKA and Cox & Cox.
The pink mirror came from Cotswold Grey in nearby Moreton-in-Marsh.
Exuberant Carnival fabric from Christopher Farr Cloth has inspired the aubergine, grey and pink scheme in the bedroom. The panelling was painted in Farrow & Ball’s Paean Black, while the headboard was made by The Headboard Workshop.
A colourful Habitat rug leads the eye through to the larger loft bedroom, where a bed from Swoon takes centre stage. The tongue-and-groove walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue. A pine chest has been upcycled in Annie Sloan’s Amsterdam Green Chalk Paint.
Vintage plates from Station Mill Antiques Centre are displayed under exposed beams in the corner of this airy loft room. The pink chair is from The Rattan Company.
The stone wall is a beautiful backdrop in the cosy loft bedroom. A Pooky lamp and shade sit on an antique bedside table.