This ancient thatched cottage has had new life breathed into it

Restoring this beautiful old thatched cottage using traditional methods and materials breathed new life into its ancient frame

exterior of a flint stone thatched cottage with flowers in front garden and picket fence
(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Seeing your dream cottage stripped back to its stone, ceilings removed to reveal the underside of its centuries-old thatch, would be enough to send most owners into a panic, but for Beverley Brown it was a chance to get to know her new home better. 

'The bones of the building were so beautiful – looking at the underside of the thatch and all the original timbers, it was clear to see the care that had gone into its construction,' she says of the Grade-II listed thatched cottage, dating from about 1750.

Beverley was determined to honor the 18th-century cottage with just as much care as she prepared to restore it to stand among the world's best homes.

She is passionate about renovating old homes and championing the traditional skills and crafts involved in restoring older properties correctly.

Exterior update

front of a flint stone thatched cottage with cottage garden flowers and picket fence

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

The house was built with flint and chalk banding and a thatched roof, typical of the area in Dorchester, England. 

It was a bleak November afternoon in 2019 when Beverley and her husband, Andy, first viewed the cottage. 'The light was fading, and the house was empty and cold. But as we looked round, taking in the flagstone floors, the character of the building, and the surprisingly high ceilings, we decided the space was just perfect.’

The couple moved in the following February and prepared themselves for the mammoth task of renovating a house.

The couple knew the required steps for home renovation. They enlisted the help of Angel Architecture (opens in new tab) to apply for the planning permissions and consents required to remove the cement render, a form of exterior cladding that had been applied by a previous owner.  

The exterior is now picture-postcard pretty. Pink roses adorn the front walls of the house, and it makes a great first impression with its front yard cottage garden ideas, surrounded by cottage garden plants that present a riot of color throughout the year, and a sweet picket fence.

Kitchen

farmhouse kitchen island in a country kitchen with flagstone floor

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

The Kitchen was converted from a small barn at the end of the house in the late 1990s and is full of small kitchen ideas

Beverley knew that the new kitchen would be an important space for the family. The well-proportioned room has a central farmhouse kitchen island but space for wall cabinets and an easy chair next to a narrow window – one of the old barn’s slit openings. 

farmhouse kitchen with range cooker and flagstone floor

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

‘The kitchen in the hub of the house, we’re always in here,’ says Beverley. ‘I’m good at seeing how things will look when they’re done – so I could see in my mind's eye how the kitchen and the rest of the house would turn out.’

She chose to decorate with neutrals, painting the old lime plaster walls in Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)Dead Salmon casein distemper. This complements the warm terracotta tones of the original flagstone stone flooring and the shaker kitchen units.

Living room

cottage living rooms with blue velvet sofa and ceiling beams

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

The living room floor is laid with the original large blue lias flagstones and the casein distemper paint used is suitable for the conservation of traditional buildings.

Cottage living room ideas that add texture include velvet sofas, lovely rich rugs and sift furnishings that make it all look cozy and homely. 

Bedrooms

green cottage bedroom with window seat

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

When it came to choosing the room color ideas, Beverley took her lead from the house itself. 'This cottage loves greens and warm stone colors. So when I’m looking at color charts I tend to pick out warmer greens and softer tones and warm stone colors, nothing too cold or too modern,’ she says.

This green bedroom idea is a wonderfully calming and soothing space. 

window seat in a cottage bedroom with cushions and books

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

All of the bedrooms have their original window seats with is a delightful cottage bedroom idea.

Dining room

antique table and chairs in a cottage dining room

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Most of the furniture was bought specially for the house and is a lesson in decorating with antiques. This includes the dining table and chairs in the traditional dining room.

‘We wanted to source things locally, and virtually all the furniture has come from auctions and antique shops. It’s quite a sustainable way of doing things and the older and more eclectic style of furnishings just feels right for the house and it’s practical too to buy from places nearby,' Beverley explains.

antique dresser in a traditional dining room

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

The antique dining room dresser was the first purchase Beverley and Andy made for the house when they moved to Dorset. It perfectly complements the blue lias flagstones that have been polished to show the fossils and ammonites.

Garden room

garden room home office in a cottage

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

The west-facing garden room is a lovely welcoming space that is flooded with light in the afternoon. The antique table and chair fill it with character as a small home office idea.

The couple is also amassing quite a collection of paintings and artwork by local artists, and finding a theme for paintings is one idea for decorating with art

Putting up the pictures may sound like the finishing touches but, says Beverley, ‘I don’t think it will ever be completely done. It’s lovely having it nearly done and being able to welcome friends and family here, but there’s still plenty to do.’

Karen Darlow

Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.