How can you bring your cottage home up to date without losing its unique personality? Our renovation experts offer their best advice.
By Karen Lawrence
Living in a cottage-style property is the dream of many families but renovating a period home to meet the demands of modern life has its challenges. Classic cottages have a wealth of desirable features but frequently suffer from drawbacks such as low ceilings, tiny windows and a cramped layout.
As Tom Bentley, Refresh Renovations UK Operations Manager, says, “When it comes to renovating a cottage, you might need to push your creative boundaries, as space can be tight and the rooms sometimes dark”.
So how can you bring your cottage home up to date without losing its unique personality?
To maintain the original character of a cottage home, a sensitive renovation relies on careful planning, good relationships with suppliers and craftsmen, and a keen eye for period details. There’s a choice to be made between matching the traditional style and materials – which some consider to be ‘faking it’ – or bringing contemporary designs and finishes to your cottage home, which may upset traditionalists!
Many homeowners preserve the look and feel of their cottage by adding an extension that carefully matches the style of the original building. If done well, the new construction can blend seamlessly with the old and, with a little weathering, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. Alternatively, a sharp contrast between the original building and an unashamedly modern addition can make a stunning design statement, with the materials and construction of each element clearly defined and differentiated.
You may be limited by local planning requirements, but an experienced renovation expert can advise what options are open to you.
Cottage-style homes are often thought of as naturally cosy, but a renovation project is the perfect opportunity to make sure yours is as comfortable to live in as it looks. If you have little or no insulation, external cladding can give your property a makeover and boost its kerb appeal whilst also improving energy efficiency, cutting your bills and keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. If planning restrictions prevent this, internal insulation is a good alternative.
Underfloor heating is also a great option for a cottage-style home, especially for stone, slate and tiled floors, and could replace bulky radiators that might appear out-of-keeping with the traditional vernacular.
Your renovation plans might include enlarging windows, adding bi-fold or sliding doors or even a conservatory to open up and illuminate the space. But if it’s impossible to increase the amount of light coming into rooms, there are other ways to make a cottage home brighter.
Tom Bentley suggests removing dividing walls between the kitchen and living room, but adds, “You might want to consider a sliding glass door so you can still separate the rooms and have a bit of ‘snug’”.
Pale walls and floors will help bounce light around; a cream carpet may only be practical in bedrooms, but hardwearing limestone tiles or pale wood floors are a great choice elsewhere to keep things light and bright.
A common problem with old stone walls and traditional timber framed structures is the lack of right angles. Trying to fit standard kitchen units, wardrobes or shelving of any kind can be frustrating, so look for skilled craftsmen who can build bespoke units to fit perfectly. Freestanding units are also a great option; for example, a classic roll-top bath may suit the style of your home better and doesn’t require perfectly square walls for installation.
If you love that look, pairing traditional fixtures such as pine doors with antique or second-hand furniture and vintage fabrics can bring an eclectic but sympathetic style to your cottage home. But just because your cottage-style home looks traditional from the outside doesn’t mean it has to remain so on the inside.
If you’re remodelling or extending your home, why not bring it into the twenty-first century stylistically too? An experienced renovation expert can help you create a home fit for the future inside even the most traditional-looking shell.
To turn your cottage-style property into the home of your dreams, start by thinking about the practicalities.
Ask a Refresh Renovations specialist about planning requirements, structural or essential maintenance work and how best to remodel the space to suit your lifestyle. Get in touch today!
Take a look at our cost estimates to get an idea of what will work within your renovation budget
All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.
If you would like to find out how Refresh Renovations can support you with a high quality, efficient home renovation, get in touch today. Your local Refresh consultant will be happy to meet with you for a free, no obligations consultation.