7 ways this cozy New England-style cottage was transformed – just in time for Christmas

Building in a new fireplace and raising the head height in the ceiling added a sense of flow to this five-bedroom home

new england style house in kent
(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

This is a home that's made to be decorated for Christmas. There’s a rustic wooden sled and a Christmas tree on the front porch. Inside, candles provide a glowing welcome for festive celebrations.

The property is an extended and renovated five-bedroom house, situated in the county of Kent in the southeast of the United Kingdom. The exterior is a rustic mix of country cottage and New England style, with cladding and Kentish peg tiles. It was just the first impression that homeowners Johanna and Deniz Safer, who work in finance, were looking for.

new england style house with porch

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

Inside, the spacious, mainly open-plan layout on the ground floor appealed to the couple – as did the five bedrooms and tranquil location. ‘Although the decor wasn’t quite to our taste, that was actually a bonus. The house had good bones and plenty of scope for improvement,’ adds Johanna.

The quick paint trick to transform the kitchen

cream colored handmade wood english kitchen

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

Clever and economical kitchen ideas transformed the look of this integral space. The couple made the decision to retain the existing handmade cabinetry but to reconfigure the design and update the look to their taste. 

‘A fresh lick of paint, changing the handles and worktops, moving some of the cabinets, and installing a new Aga made all the difference,’ says Johanna. The previously pale blue kitchen is now a soft cream color – Snow by Neptune (opens in new tab) – to create a brighter and more contemporary space. An update on a classic, cream kitchen ideas provides a timeless look that suits both contemporary and traditional spaces.

With a neutral background, Johanna has chosen to keep her kitchen Christmas decor ideas pared back and simple, with a focus on rustic wooden stars and undressed miniature Christmas trees.

Raising the roof in the master bedroom

pink master suite bedroom

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

Next on the list was the master bedroom. ‘Call it Feng Shui, but when we moved in neither of us felt very settled in that bedroom,’ says Johanna – a reason why many people look to arrange a bedroom for good energy using Feng Shui. Mirrored wardrobes were removed – using the principle of where mirrors should be placed in a bedroom for Feng Shui

Then the building work began. The room was taken back to brick, and existing steel was raised to increase head height and create a more cohesive space. 

Johanna then set about designing a boutique hotel-style retreat, introducing luxury bedroom ideas for a sense of ease and comfort. Layered textures, pretty bedroom wallpaper ideas, and pink and olive hues come together to create a restful sanctuary.

The Toile Trellis wallpaper is from Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). The stool at the foot of the bed is from The Dormy House (opens in new tab). And the wall lights are from Jim Lawrence (opens in new tab).

Keeping it monochrome in the bathroom

bathroom with black bath and glass shower

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

With the master en-suite updated, work began on totally transforming the family bathroom, to incorporate a luxurious freestanding bath and walk-in shower. The amber tones in the marble tiles were the starting point for the bathroom ideas in this sophisticated space.

Daring to go faux in the living room

sitting room with cream upholstery and christmas tree

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

Taking the plunge to transform a room's layout can work wonders to the look and feel of the space – and it's the approach the couple took to their main living space.

‘Right from the outset, Deniz and I were worried that the living room and dining room felt like a rather long run of spaces that needed breaking up,’ explains Johanna. 

new england style house sitting room with fireplace and cream furniture

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

Mulling over ideas, the pair decided to build a false chimney breast with a fireplace to house a log burner. This would be flanked by alcove cupboards and shelves for storage and display. The finishing touch was adding false beams in the ceilings. 

Daring to go faux was a brave move that paid dividends. ‘The new chimney breast and beams worked brilliantly to inject character,’ Johanna says. ‘And the rooms are now much more homely.’

Designing a stylish dining room

new england style house with dining room dresser and neptune table and dining chairs

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

The newly configured dining room features a large, low window bay, which makes the ideal viewing point over the garden.

Johanna created the dresser by repurposing a larder cupboard by adding glazed doors at the top, and four doors below the drawers. Her ideas for organizing a dresser include arranging glassware in the two end cabinets, with tableware and accessories such as candlesticks in the central storage areas.

Candlesticks along the dresser top bring a glow to festive mealtimes.

Creating a cute girl's bedroom

girls pink bedroom with teepee and rocking horse

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

For an example of the perfect pink girls' bedroom ideas, this is it. Belonging to the couple's young daughter, this charming bedroom is painted in Perfect Pinkish by Valspar (opens in new tab). A cute teepee, rocking horse and over-bed canopy complete the fairy-tale look.

Getting festive in the guest bedroom

guest bedroom with metallic christmas wreath on wall

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

Taking festive trimmings throughout the house, including Christmas bedroom decor ideas, is a wonderful way to make visitors feel welcome while staying in your guest bedroom over the holidays.

When deciding how to decorate a guest bedroom, Johanna selected an antique bed as the focal point in this relaxing space. A stylish metallic Christmas wreath idea on the wall above the bed and a miniature fir tree on the bedside table – an on-trend Christmas tree idea this year – create a home-from-home feel for the festivities.

Andrea Childs

Andrea has been immersed in the world of homes, interiors and lifestyle since her first job in journalism, on Ideal Home. She went from women's magazine Options to Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor on Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for sister title homesandgardens.com.