I have recently completed a restoration of a small cottage in the heart of the Lake District. If you would like more information please visit www.littlenutcottage.co.uk
The rest of this months blog goes into detail about the project. I hope you enjoy reading about my cottage.
In the heart of the Lake District lies the sleepy village of Elterwater, situated at the foot of the Great and Little Langdale valleys and besides its namesake; Lake Elter Water (The Lake of the Swans).
The village is flanked by bracken-clad heathland and nestled against the magnificent backdrop of the Langdale Pikes. The serenity of the landscape is relatively recent; these dramatic mountains were once the site of gunpowder mines and slate quarries in use from the Napoleonic Wars until the early 20th century.
Peace is now the order of the day and with its slow pace and picturesque topography, Elderwater is a much-loved destination for walking holidays.
The areas famous slate is still very much in evidence in the fabric of the remaining original quarryman cottages (Beatrix Potter-esq with their quirky chimney posts and sweet dormer windows) and it was the unexpected prettiness of the stonework that first caught my eye: when I first visited this quiet corner of the Lakes, the humble charm and the bijou size of the cottages immediately struck me, the slate walls also have a beautiful depth of colour that changes throughout the day according to the light, it’s quite magical.
In 2016, I first visited Elterwater and following that trip, I had my heart set on buying one of these unusual properties. When the opportunity arose in 2019, to own one of the original quarryman cottages, (in need of some modernisation and sympathetic restoration) I leapt at the chance.
Over the past two years, this painstaking restoration project has proven labour of love with every detail and finish chosen to be sympathetic to the building’s original fabric and location, whilst updating it to suit modern family living.
The craftsmanship of local labourers, stonemasons, garden designers and artisans was central to my vision. I also looked to use my favourite British suppliers and creatives for the furnishings; soft-toned rugs from Sinclair Till, lighting from furniture pieces from Soane London and numerous bespoke furniture makers punctuate the space, while fabrics from Colefax and Fowler, Holland & Sherry, Pierre Frey and C&C Milano create a layered and cosy feel.
With eye-catching lighting from friends in the design world like Paulo Moschino at Nicholas Haslam, Jonathan Browning and Hector Finch, and artwork from favourite local artists including landscapes from Heaton Cooper and Harry Brioche, this became a very personal interior that developed gradually over time.
New out-buildings were built from scratch; pretty fireplaces were reinstated, new windows and a pretty slate-roofed porch were all added. The front of the cottage was transformed with the addition of a stone set driveway, while at the rear, a wrought iron fenced terraced garden was established on the hillside and planted with Portuguese Laurel trees, Lilac, tulips and hellebores. Nestled in one corner, and perfectly situated for admiring the surrounding hills, is an inviting timber-clad hot tub.
The small scale renovation required every nook and cranny to be utilised to maximise function. On the ground floor, a custom-built kitchen and a boot room by Humphrey Munson, ensure all practical needs are met. The Kitchen opens into an open-plan living and dining room with a feature fireplace. A Charnwood log burning wood burning stove creates a cosy atmosphere on cooler evenings.
Upstairs the soft blue tones of the Master Bedroom creates a memorably inviting retreat, with a simple oak framed four-poster bed set against an installation of hand-sculpted porcelain flowers by Artisan Studios. Pretty touches like the hand-embroidered detailing to the linen curtain edges also draw the eye beautifully.
The second bedroom, for my two sons, is warm and snug in shades of vibrant orange, a collection of straw hats decorate one wall and wooden wall sculptures are an unexpected fun detail.
Finally, and very importantly, after a day of hard walking up the Pikes and wild swimming in the lakes (if you are into cold water therapy!), the Master Bathroom has been furnished with a Porter vanity unit and hand-painted roll-top bath from Holloways of Ludlow. Set against equiseta detailed mosaic tiles from Waterworks and positioned below a vivid green river scene painted by Richard Cook, it is the perfect place for tranquillity and reflection.
Out of the sleepy mists of the past ‘Little Nut Cottage’ is once more full of life and laughter. A wonderful feeling of contentment now emits from this tiny country home, the prettiest of cottages. I do hope you might consider visiting one day.