A 17th-century cottage in Kent
The quirky, beamed rooms of Roni Lang’s 17th-century Kent cottage are filled with a fascinating hoard of finds that she has amassed during 30 years of collecting. Photographs Bruce Hemming / GAP INTERIORS
Roni Lang has been amassing curious and interesting things for over 30 years, and she continues to add to her impressive collection. ‘I’m a bit of a hoarder,’ she confesses. ‘I go into every charity shop I see. If I walk past something I like, it will haunt me for years if I don’t go back and get it.’
Roni is sitting on the sofa in the cosy living room of her 17th-century Kent cottage. The woodburning stove is alight, and above the cavernous fireplace hang a couple of dozen silhouettes. ‘I bought another one yesterday for £2. I can’t resist things if they call to me,’ she says. Paintings, drawings, jewellery, textiles, miniatures – if something excites Roni, and if she can afford it, she will always buy it. ‘But they have to be right,’ she adds.
And because she has been collecting this way for over 30 years, it means every wall, shelf and nook of her home is adorned with something of interest – vintage coffee pots brighten a corner of the kitchen and a collection of beaded purses hangs from the painted beams in the bathroom.
The house is furnished with strong-lined pieces bought at markets and antiques shops, such as the unusual coffee table in the living room, which came from a junk shop in Rochester. ‘It cost £65 and is my best ever find,’ says Roni. ‘Though my pride of joy is a 1935 Utility chest of drawers in my bedroom, which I bought at Greenwich market 30 odd years ago. I’ve had the 1930s cupboard in the sitting room for 35 years.’
The pièce de résistance of Roni’s hoarding, however, has to be the old Victorian dresser top in the dining room. ‘I call it my cabinet of curiosities,’ she says. Filled with pictures, books and mementos, it is a museum in miniature, the most striking collection being a number of antique globes de mariées, decorative arrangements displayed under glass domes that were created as souvenirs to celebrate weddings.
Roni, who runs a business transforming vintage and antique textiles into new pieces of clothing, has been inspired to decorate her own domes to mark special occasions for herself and for friends.
The cottage was in good structural condition when Roni and her husband bought it eight years ago, which was fortunate, as its Grade II listing meant they weren’t able to make many alterations. Roni refreshed the decor with new paint in various shades of pale grey and warm white in all of the rooms.
She updated the characterful kitchen, which included the jolly green AGA, with a similarly light touch, reviving the cabinets with a coat of Little Greene’s Portland Stone paint. Similarly, in the bathroom, she merely took up the carpet and painted the tiles white. This make-do-and-mend approach is evident throughout the house and it stems from Roni’s work as a fashion designer.
A self-confessed customising queen, her label, Mrs Lang, is well known for its one-off and bespoke garments, all of which are made from reclaimed, antique and vintage fabrics. At home, the same creativity continues with cushions fashioned from vintage textiles and, at Christmas, decorations made from foliage she gathers in the fields around the house.
Roni loves mixing furniture and artwork of different styles and periods as the master bedroom confirms: her beloved Utility chest looks marvellous in the company of a mirrored deco chest of drawers and an ornate French armchair; and a huge Japanese fan is a striking focal point above the bed. ‘I love the Georgian period and the 1930s,’ she says. ‘I’m a sucker for chinoiserie and I do like a bit of gold. There’s something about a house of this era that works with so many historic ages and styles.’
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Roni’s collecting shows no signs of abating – her appreciation for art and antiques clearly gives her great joy. ‘I rarely buy anything of value; whether it costs 5p or £500, what’s important to me is that I love it.’
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