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The Craftsman’s Cottage: A Holiday Rental in England with Furnishings for Purchase

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The Craftsman’s Cottage: A Holiday Rental in England with Furnishings for Purchase

Roy Riley September 28, 2017

“I’ve always retreated to making as a form of therapy,” explains Amanda Bannister. A media lawyer by day, Amanda has a strong (extracurricular) interest in the visual arts and craft in particular. “I love making and I love looking at other people’s craft and engaging with other makers, so when the cottage next door came up for sale, and the concept of a holiday home emerged, I decided to use it as a vehicle to celebrate British craft.”

The Craftsman’s Cottage is a holiday home in the hamlet of Semley in rural Wiltshire; Amanda started taking bookings in July this year. “I think people are getting slightly bored of bland ‘repro’ stuff in hotels—they want something that feels more handmade and more personal. We have incredible makers and amazing skills in this county,” she says. “The idea was to bring it all under one roof, to create something immersive and experiential—a place that would give guests the opportunity to live with a Russell Pinch sofa for a few days, and perhaps, ultimately, buy one.”

the exterior of the craftsman&#8\2\17;s cottage, which is built out of 17
Above: The exterior of the Craftsman’s Cottage, which is built out of Shaftesbury greenstone with a slate roof. “The cottage has always appealed to us,” says Amanda. “It’s the kind of cottage you would draw if you were a five year old.”

Guests receive a 10 percent discount on anything they buy from the cottage; Amanda receives a 10 percent commission. “I really wanted to work for the makers because I want them to be selling,” she explains.

the bench and peg rail in the hallway are by another country. lamb&#8\ 18
Above: The bench and peg rail in the hallway are by Another Country. Lamb’s wool and tweed gilets by Guillotine hang in the entrance hallway for guests to use.

“My aesthetic has always been picking pieces that I like, irrespective of whether people might put them together,” explains Amanda. It was important to include examples of contemporary design as well as British antiques and heritage brands (Ercol, Liberty, Heals), so there is a Russell Pinch table, sofa and chairs. Another Country, “which is fast becoming a really solid British brand,” Amanda says, is also represented. “Nothing jars, but at the same time I wanted to create a breadth and depth of experience.”

in the main living room is the boyd sofa and brody high back armchair by pinch  19
Above: In the main living room is the Boyd sofa and Brody high-back armchair by Pinch Design, The coffee table and Hardy chair are by Another Country. The rug is by the artist, designer, and color consultant Ptolemy Mann.
 the bespoke, shaker style kitchen is by devol. 20
Above: The bespoke, Shaker-style kitchen is by deVol.
a double butler sink looks out over semley common. 21
Above: A double butler sink looks out over Semley Common.

True to William Morris’s dictum, “have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,” Amanda combines utility with beauty throughout. “I want everything in the cottage to be used. Nothing should just sit there and look beautiful. It’s not a museum. I want people to pick up a Knighton Mill jug, fill it with water and put it on the table.”

the breakfast nook, which overlooks the garden, comprises an oak settle and tab 22
Above: The breakfast nook, which overlooks the garden, comprises an oak settle and table made out of a local Semley oak tree.
craftsmans cottage sideboard
Above: In the main living room is an early (circa 1960) blue label sideboard in elm with beech legs by Ercol—an English furniture company still working from High Wycombe. “We were keen to represent as many iconic British brands as we could,” explains Amanda.
craftsmans cottage bedroom england
Above: Anglepoise lamps in Seagrass in the twin bedroom. The cottage sleeps six in the main house, with room for another couple in the annex.
the master bedroom is decorated with gp&j baker &#8\2\16;nympheus&# 25
Above: The master bedroom is decorated with GP&J Baker ‘Nympheus’ wallpaper. The same design appears on the sofa in the snug.
craftsmans cottage england dresser 1
Above: A late Victorian mahogany chest of drawers with Edwardian barley twist framed mirror above.
a view from the hallway into a wood paneled wc. 27
Above: A view from the hallway into a wood-paneled WC.
 a set of four historical prints in the wc, which is stocked with bramley  28
Above: A set of four historical prints in the WC, which is stocked with Bramley products, which are made entirely from British plants. “I want my guests to have a full-on craft experience from every sensory angle possible.” stresses Amanda.
a view of the exterior of the craftsman&#8\2\17;s cottage. there is outdoor 29
Above: A view of the exterior of the Craftsman’s Cottage. There is outdoor seating for eight and a grill and preparation area.
the self contained annex is available to hire if your party exceeds six. 30
Above: The self-contained annex is available to hire if your party exceeds six.
craftsmans cottage kitchen cottage sebastian cox loft
Above: The annex has an open plan living area with underfloor heating at ground floor level and a mezzanine level that sleeps two (with room for an infant).
craftsmans cottage sebastian cox kitchen detail
Above: The kitchen in the annex is by Sebastian Cox for deVol.

The whole craft concept, extends to the guests’ welcome hamper. “It’s stuffed full of single-estate mint tea, homemade lemon curd, my own banana and lemon loaf cakes, homemade granola and chocolates from Hampshire,” explains Amanda. There are empty milk bottles in the kitchen which you can take to the local dairy and fill with fresh raw milk for just £1.

a sunny reading spot in the annex. the chairs are by pinch design, the table is 33
Above: A sunny reading spot in the annex. The chairs are by Pinch Design, the table is by Another Country. 

Amanda describes the interiors as “not too polite.” She has deliberately given space to decorative items that challenge. “I want to make people sit up a bit, but not in a terrifying way,” she says. The cottage has proved so popular that Amanda is looking to roll out the concept to other properties, and organize craft-making events and bespoke workshops for guests, including a collaboration with the nearby Messums Wiltshire, a pioneering gallery and arts center that opened in Tisbury last year.

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