Listed Yorkshire cottage gets a Nordic makeover
Kate Winslet’s Surrey cottage in The Holiday has been a source of festive fascination since the film was released in 2006. Interior designer Amanda Lucas is living that fantasy with this stunning Yorkshire cottage renovation.
With dreams of owning a country-style cottage, Amanda finally saved up enough money to buy her first home. ‘I was on the lookout for a place that I could renovate,’ she explains. ‘My dream was to own a period property with lots of history and original features. I’m naturally drawn to a Nordic interior style that uses a simple colour pallet, lots of textures and pretty details.’
After viewing just two properties, Amanda snapped up this pretty Grade II-listed stone cottage in the small village of Wyke, near Bradford. ‘My home is hundreds of years old,’ she adds. ‘I loved that it had so much charm and history, but it was in a bit of state when I bought it. However. I was keen to get stuck in and do the work if at all possible – I wasn’t afraid of getting my hands dirty.’
Although her new home was steeped in history, much of the original character had been stripped away over the years. The previous owners had decorated the space extremely minimally and not in keeping with the age or style of the cottage. There was a kitchen in one corner and an old gas fire in the living room.
Upstairs, the bathroom was tatty and worn, and the bedrooms were also very bland. ‘A single guy lived here before me and there was nothing about the design of the place that really excited me,’ Amanda explains. ‘With experience of renovating interiors for my clients, I had a clear idea of how I wanted this cottage to look.’
Within a day of getting the keys, Amanda began stripping out the property from top-to-bottom. ‘With the help of my family and friends, I pulled out the old units in the kitchen and lifted up the old carpets,’ she recalls. ‘The front garden became a make-shift tip, slowly filling up with debris in the house.’
With only a small amount of savings set aside for the design, Amanda took on most of the work herself. She quickly picked up key DIY skills and even making things for her home when she couldn’t afford to buy them.
Throughout the winter, Amanda and her family worked tirelessly renovating the cottage. Tackling the downstairs first, she worked out a way to zone the open-plan layout. ‘I put in a half wall between the kitchen and the living space, which not only sectioned off the room but it also gave me an extra work-surface for baking.’
Buying off-the-shelf units, she made her bespoke kitchen to fit the tiny proportions of her home. ‘The kitchen is made from units from B&Q and the sink is from Ikea. I had to mix products from different companies to get the country-cottage style look I wanted, within my budget.’
Cosy living space
In the living room, Amanda was determined to see if there was a fireplace opening hidden behind the gas heater. ‘I had a hunch there might be one, but I didn’t know until I hacked all the plaster off and discovered the stone lintel,’ she explains. The opening was so dirty that it required sandblasting to remove layers of paint to bring it back to a clean condition. She then plastered the wall above by hand for a distressed look: the rough plaster finish suiting the age of the property. Using her small savings, she invested in a log burning fire to heat her home and create a central focus in the living space.
Over the next year, Amanda has continued to renovate, installing a new boiler and radiators, as well as decorating throughout and putting in new carpets. ‘As my home is made from stone, it can get very cold in winter,’ she says. ‘Although I dreamed of revealing the original stone floor, I put down thick wool carpet throughout to make my home as cosy as it possibly could be.’
She added yet more warmth by opting for furniture upholstered in felt and wool. She also added texture to her home with throws and cosy cushions. Amanda also saved up enough for a beautiful roll-top bath. ‘I’m so pleased that with a lot of hard work, I’ve turned a cold, dirty place into a really cute interior,’ she beams. ‘I’ve achieved so much in a short time and learnt lots from renovating my home myself.’
Keen to share her ideas, Amanda affectionately dubbed her house ‘Hobbit Cottage’ and dedicated an Instagram account of the same name to her renovations. She also started a blog (creativemilly.com) inspired by her career working in interiors and her passion for crafting.
‘My aim is to show others that they can do it themselves,’ she says. ‘My cottage was renovated on the tiniest budget and I did nearly all the handy work myself, from tiling the floor to making the dining table. Nothing should stop you from creating your dream home – not even a lack of funds.’
It’s at this time of year that Amanda finds that her gorgeous home comes into its’ own. ‘Hobbit Cottage is very much a winter house,’ she says. ‘When the fire is lit and I’m baking in the kitchen, the place comes to life.’
Decorations come from Etsy or Instagram, and she also makes plenty herself. ‘My mum gave me a large box full of old wooden toys that I dress the tree with, and I hang up a star garland above the fireplace.’
This is only Amanda’s second Christmas in her dream home. ‘It is always about spending time with my family and filling my house with simple seasonal touches that I love to make myself,’ she beams.
‘This year, I intend to invite over close friends for a crafting session where we can knit, drink endless cups of tea and gossip about our latest interiors ideas. My country cottage is the perfect place for that.’
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