Get the look: How to turn a dilapidated cottage into a cosy vintage hideaway

Popular in supermarket aisles and when grabbing some shampoo in Boots, but two-for-one offers don’t normally extend to houses.

This bijou little getaway in Norfolk, however, came along with a main larger cottage that Ana Perez bought as a holiday home 15 minutes from the Norfolk coast.

Originally a gardener’s cottage dating back to the mid-18th century, it stood almost untouched with exposed flint walls, lime-rendered surfaces, reclaimed oak beams and clay Norfolk pamments.

Sadly the interiors were a little too untouched – although having been used for the last 50 years as a holiday home, no work had been done to the 480sq ft cottage in a long time and it was a sorry sight.

‘It was in an unbelievably dilapidated state,’ says Ana. ‘Leaning walls, a shower in the corner of the main room (the living room and the bedroom were combined) and apart from that space there was only a small toilet and tiny kitchenette-style kitchen. All the spaces were just being wrongly used and were a fraction too small to be really usable.’

The initial plan was to extend it to make it a workable layout as well as dropping the floor by a few inches, to gain a sense of space.

‘However, when I say “extend”, really it was an almost total rebuild. But in doing that it did open up the possibility of having some really cool spaces,’ Ana says.

The rebuild was extensive, with new foundations and flooring, a new roof, electrics, plumbing and underfloor heating, all while keeping the building looking the same externally as it sits in a conservation area.

While retaining the original cottage’s authentic charm, Ana has created a perfect interpretation of vintage luxe, adding modern elements such as a large sunken micro-cement bath-for-two plus shower – inspired by traditional Japanese onsens – alongside a reclaimed iroko vanity surface, which extends to a built-in toilet surround and seat, and a fully restored traditional Victorian cistern ensures the bathroom’s reclamation credentials.

The main living space gained a partition wall to create a small bedroom area. Ana was keen to create a cohesiveness in its colouring throughout, with rich browns and greens, blacks and off-grey whites.

Many traditional materials were used, including a lot of bead-boarding and stripwood panelling on all of the ceilings.

Vintage items were extensively sourced to create a lived-in feel. The gardener’s cottage was used as the central theme and the colours and items added around that concept.

‘We always wanted to have an internal space that was fun, quirky and cool and this one completely encapsulates that as it has the constraint of being 
part bedroom and part 
living room.

‘We really wanted the cottage to have a lived-in feel to it and to aid that, we sourced a lot of different vintage items to give the room a cosy and worn feel.’

The biggest surprise about this diminutive property is that it feels so spacious. ‘We always wanted to avoid the bedroom feeling like a hotel suite, due to its size and how the bedroom would have to sit next to the living room – and we think we’ve achieved this, and then some. It is lively, airy and bright.’

Spink’s Nest is available as a holiday let.

Buy Ana’s look online now

Brown wall paint: Chimney Brick by Little Greene

‘We looked for earthy natural colours to match the surroundings of Spink’s Nest and this is a perfect choice.’

Buy Chimney Brick by Little Greene.

Curtains: Golden Lily by William Morris

Golden Lily by William Morris sourced on eBay.

Alternative: Buy this Golden Lily Fabric in Serotonin Pink at Archive By Sanderson Design.

Vintage Silk Lampshade

‘The vintage silk adds warmth to the space and each item is unique.’

Alternative: Buy this Dusty Pink, Green and Black Paisley Vintage Silk Sari Lampshade for £250 from Samarkand Design.

Pheasant wreath: Handmade by Sophie Pointer

‘It connects with the locality of the cottage as pheasants are often found on the lanes around the cottage and it adds a touch of quirkiness.’

Alternative: Buy this Hen Pheasant Feather Bauble for £5.50-£7.50 from Sophie Pointer.

Green chest of drawers paint: Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan

‘It is an elegant, timeless colour that resonates with the idea of a gardener’s cottage.’

Buy 120ml Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan in Florence for £6.95.

Chest of drawers: Vintage piece upcycled by Chloe Kempster

Vintage piece upcycled by Chloe Kempster. ‘We looked for a functional but stylish item of furniture as the space is small as it also doubles as a drinks station for our welcome G&T and being an upcycled item, it is a unique piece for us.’

Alternative: Buy this Rustic Textured Deco Chest Of Drawers for £725 from Chloe Kempster.

Floor tiles: Norfolk Pamments

‘We wanted for the cottage to feel like it always had been there so it was important for us to research local materials and traditional ways of building and pamments have been used for centuries in Norfolk and we were lucky to find these handmade ones, with their imperfections that add to the texture of the cottage.’

Get these locally-made tiles from Norfolk Pammets.

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