House Design

This country house hides a traditional Cotswold cottage behind a Gothic facade

A colorful and characterful country house lies behind the impressive front of this country house in Wiltshire

country house
(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

There's a fairytale, gingerbread house feel to this beautiful Cotswold home. It's the creamy white facade and green paintwork, like piped frosting, around the Gothic windows. Yet once over the farmhouse doorstep, just like magic, the interior looks like a typical English country cottage, complete with low ceilings, wooden beams and an Aga.

The Strawberry Hill Gothic façade was a major attraction for the homeowners, Jane and Richard Stark. ‘We were looking for an extra bedroom and a garden,’ says Jane. ‘This was much bigger than we intended but it had character and was slightly quirky. It had a warm, cosy feel and felt like our forever family home.’

See: Cottage decorating ideas – charming ways to get a characterful look

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The house had begun life as a cottage and then was extended over some 100 years until in the 1800s the Strawberry Hill Gothic facade was added.

The house was in good condition so didn’t require much modernisation. Several of the windows were repaired, some missing roof tiles were replaced, the walls repointed and the exterior repainted. 

‘Because the house is Grade II listed, work had to be done using traditional methods and materials,’ says Richard.

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

An instant transformation occurred when they changed the colour around the windows from a yellowy orange shade into a fresh green that complements the original brickwork and the cream walls.

But it's the interior of the house that really comes alive with colour and character. Take a tour to discover its unique style.

Entrance hall library

The large hall sits at one end of the house, opposite the snug. ‘When we first viewed the house, it was full of ancestral portraits and antelope heads,’ says Richard. ‘We were daunted by the scale of the room, then we had the idea of making it a library room and making it feel cosier.’ 

They used a dramatic wallpaper from Lewis & Wood to create a feature wall. To complement the eclectic feel, the couple replaced the existing heavy metal lantern with a chandelier by Tom Raffield.

‘We wanted something lighter and airier than what was originally there. We had seen some of Tom’s lights at a friend’s and we commissioned a long chandelier created out of wood shavings.’

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The combination of the panelling, bold patterned wallpaper and the wooden chandelier has turned what was a somewhat cold, large, anonymous room into somewhere that feels much more welcoming.

'By bringing the colours and textures of the garden into the room, it makes it feel more uplifting and connected to nature,' says Jane.

Snug

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The snug is decorated in bold tones. ‘We thought this house could take colour because it’s so big. We knew we could always paint over if necessary,' says Jane.

The starting point for the scheme was a teal blue velvet chair. ‘I wanted the room to feel like a jewellery box and bought the teal chair and a purple one,' says Jane. 'I then had to work out what colour would work with those jewel colours.

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

A teal paint by Paint & Paper Library pulls the look together, and Jane has introduced gold accessories to complement the teal scheme. 

The gilded cabinet is from India Jane. Gold beetle, Graham & Green

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The window seat with a boldly patterned cushion makes a comfy perch from which to admire the garden. 

Velvet loveseat and stool, Sofa Workshop. Large cushion and rug, Scumble Goosie.

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Living room

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

A classic scheme was chosen for the living room. ‘I spotted some fabric I loved in an interiors shop and I thought it would work for the curtains,’ says Jane. ‘I built the rest of the room around it. We chose a bold blue – Blue Blood by Paint & Paper Library – for the walls, which is such a soothing colour.'

It is offset with neutral furniture and raw wood furniture from Scumble Goosie, which gives it a relaxed look. 'We saw this house as being like a big cottage and raw wood furniture works really well as it introduces a cosy country feel.’

See: Living room ideas – clever ways to decorate living spaces

Kitchen

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The kitchen with its Shaker-style units was given a refresh with neutral cabinets complementing the cream Aga and the rustic wooden beams. 

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The island has been painted in the same teal as the snug walls to link the two rooms and add drama.

Island painted in Teal by Paint & Paper Library. Units painted in Truffle by Paint & Paper Library. Bar stools, Loaf

See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for all kitchens 

Dining area

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

At one end of the kitchen is a cosy dining area, with a circular table that breaks up the long line of the room.

A gallery wall with different coloured photo frames adds interest to the walls, while a painted sideboard found in an antiques shop provides plenty of storage. 

Bedroom

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Upstairs, the decor has taken a softer tone. Jane has opted for a classic look with damask and floral accessories that suit the bedroom.

The bed and chair are from Loaf. Chest of drawers and mirror, local antiques shop find.

See: Bedroom ideas – designs and inspiration for beautiful bedrooms

Bathroom

country house

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

A rolltop bath adds classic elegance and fits neatly beneath the eaves.

'We are very lucky that each room has some lovely architectural features that make the room interesting already, so we wanted to make sure to highlight these features,' says Jane.

'Ultimately, we wanted to make the house feel welcoming and comfortable, respecting its history but not old fashioned and stuffy, refreshed and brought up to date but not too modern.' 

For more cottage bathroom ideas, don't miss our dedicated gallery.