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Remodelista Greatest Hits 2020: A Designer’s Bucolic Cottage in the Welsh Countryside

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Remodelista Greatest Hits 2020: A Designer’s Bucolic Cottage in the Welsh Countryside

December 30, 2020

We recently came across Justine Cook’s lovely, centuries-old cottage in the Welsh countryside. Its snug dimensions, spare interiors, and soothing palette are just what we need right now to calm our pandemic-heightened nerves.

Justine, an artist and interior design consultant, and her husband, a landscape and history writer, bought the bucolic property in 2009. “We loved the setting and the fact that we could watch the cloud shadows move across the valley below,” she says. Unlike most home renovators, they were determined to change as little as possible. “We left everything we could that was original. And walls that needed redoing we had done in lime hemp or roughly done; we told the plasterer to do them ‘as if an amateur would do them’—with soft rounded edges,” she explains.

Furnishings were kept spare and unfussy, the palette natural and serene. “My husband calls it ‘detailed minimalism’—which perfectly describes it,” Justine says of her decorating style.

The couple recently put their home on the market. Be sure to visit The Modern House for the listing and more photographs, and go to Harp Cottage for Justine’s online shop. In the meantime, join us for a tour below.

Photography courtesy of The Modern House.

The couple named the property &#8
Above: The couple named the property “Harp Cottage,” which appears on the sign affixed to the gate. A gravel and grass ribbon driveway leads guests to the property.
The cottage, which is said to have been built in 7
Above: The cottage, which is said to have been built in 1672, is small, just 1,214 square feet in all. The exterior was simply freshened up with white masonry paint. “The woodwork was treated with linseed paint and then painted over with Farrow & Ball’s Lichen,” shares Justine.
The front door leads to a rustic entrance hall with its original flagstone floor intact. Justine installed a curtain in front of the door for reasons both aesthetic and practical (it helps with the drafts).
Above: The front door leads to a rustic entrance hall with its original flagstone floor intact. Justine installed a curtain in front of the door for reasons both aesthetic and practical (it helps with the drafts).
The stairs are in the entrance hall. Copper pipes were kept exposed.  &#8
Above: The stairs are in the entrance hall. Copper pipes were kept exposed.  “I love the industrial edge it gives to a cottage,” says Justine, who made the wreath for Christmas last year but never took it down.
Just beyond the entrance hall (which can be seen back, center) is the living room. An original Inglenook stove features prominently in the living room. &#8
Above: Just beyond the entrance hall (which can be seen back, center) is the living room. An original Inglenook stove features prominently in the living room. “We were delighted when we uncovered both Inglenooks,” says Justine. (The other one is in the entrance hall.)
The living room is open to the dining area. &#8
Above: The living room is open to the dining area. “The windows were metal frames that had warped so couldn’t be reused, but we had a local joiner copy the style in wood,” says Justine.
French doors in the dining area open into the garden. The curtains were made from Ikea fabric.
Above: French doors in the dining area open into the garden. The curtains were made from Ikea fabric.
Artfully displayed dried flowers and foliage can be spotted throughout the home.
Above: Artfully displayed dried flowers and foliage can be spotted throughout the home.
The kitchen, housed in an extension that was added in the late 70s, is completely freestanding. &#8
Above: The kitchen, housed in an extension that was added in the late 1970s, is completely freestanding. “The flat-fronted cupboards [left] are military office cupboards that came from a local cafe. The Welsh dresser bottom [right], we bought at an auction. The sink and taps are from Aston Matthews, with a unit built around it using reclaimed doors and a reclaimed Snooker table top,” says Justine. ‘The green Dugdill machinist worktop lights were sourced years ago. The ceiling lights are the transformer casings from some industrial lighting that we used in our house in France. The tiny spot lights on the other side are just Ikea. I love to mix and match.”
The wood countertops are made from a beech tree that felled near their property. The slim range hood is from Ikea, &#8
Above: The wood countertops are made from a beech tree that felled near their property. The slim range hood is from Ikea, “sadly no longer made, though they did reintroduce it for a short while. I get so many questions about it!” says Justine. The stove is a Smeg.
French doors lead to a patio. The trim in the kitchen is painted Farrow & Ball&#8
Above: French doors lead to a patio. The trim in the kitchen is painted Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe.
One of three bedrooms upstairs.
Above: One of three bedrooms upstairs.
The roll-up shade was custom-made by Justine&#8
Above: The roll-up shade was custom-made by Justine’s studio using vintage linen.
The Cono Tabletop Basin sink is from Aston Matthews. &#8
Above: The Cono Tabletop Basin sink is from Aston Matthews. “The upstairs bath is just 5-by-6 feet, so we needed a compact sink and unit. The stand is an Edwardian scaled-down stand that we picked up in Bristol off eBay. We then went modern with the taps to make it feel more contemporary,” says Justine.
  A simply made bed in the guest room.
Above:  A simply made bed in the guest room.

For more rural retreats, see:

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