Homes & Antiques, July 2014
I wrote a feature about interior designer Daisy Riordan‘s surrey cottage for Homes & Antiques last summer and it’s just been published. (All copy is as submitted.)
Coming from London, Daisy and Jeremy were looking for a complete change of lifestyle. “I’ve always wanted to live in the countryside,” says Daisy. “We wanted something with character that we could do up in a vintage style, and this was so perfect that Jez bought it before I’d even seen it!”
The cottages were built in 1879 as accommodation for 160 people – workers from a local tannery and their families. Now the street is home to just 40, but the sense of community remains. “Our neighbour was born in the house next door. He used to bring us fresh produce from his allotment,” says Daisy. “It is so different to London, you end up chatting to your neighbours over the fence.”
Having realised that a ‘two-up two-down’ was what they’d get for their budget Daisy and Jeremy were attracted to this property because of the configuration – you come in through the ‘back door’ into the kitchen, rather than straight into the sitting room. The ‘front door’ leads onto the garden.
“It was really homely and full of character, but an absolute shambles when we moved in. Nothing worked – you’d turn the light switch on in one room and a light would come on in another room!” says Daisy.
Daisy talks about doing up a house like baking a cake. “The sponge of the cake is the structural stuff. The icing is the furniture and decoration, and then the sprinkles are the accessories – the things that make you happy when you look at them.” They started with the ‘sponge’: electrics were replaced, doorframes and window frames repaired and a wood burning stove installed. They added fitted storage to the sitting room and master bedroom, and moved the entrance to a cupboard over the stairs from Florence’s room to the master bedroom. They also opened up the cupboard under the stairs to create an open larder. Daisy says: “I realised that it would create an extra work surface. I knew there weren’t enough cupboards, so the open shelving provides storage, but makes a feature of it, in a country style.”
Once the ‘sponge’ was in place, it was time for the ‘icing’ and ‘sprinkles’ and Daisy knew she wanted to use antique and vintage pieces. “My Mum has always worked in interior design, and Dad’s an artist. My parents would take us to the homes of artists and writers, which was such a magical experience and gave me a real appreciation for old things.” Daisy now has a real eye for a bargain: “I take Jez around the antique fairs and he says: “I don’t know how you manage to find all this amazing stuff – it just looks like junk to me.””
The kitchen floor and the hearth in the sitting room are the only things that remain from the previous owners’ décor. Daisy says: “It wasn’t to my taste, but it was neutral, so it gave us a blank canvas.”
A new kitchen complements the additional space found under the stairs. The chicken and bread bin are two of the ‘sprinkles’ that really make the kitchen work. Daisy says: “I’d always wanted one of those chickens you put eggs in! And the bread bin is the one we had when I was a little girl.”
“Originally we had the lounge very light and bright. And then my mum pointed out how lovely the interiors were in the BBC series “Mistresses” and suggested we go for cosier look – I bought the box set and studied it! In the winter this room is just the best place to be. Jez comes home from work, I put Florence to bed and fill it with fairy lights. I make a fire, light the candles and pour us a glass of wine. Sometimes when a room is small, you shouldn’t fight that.”
Upstairs, Florence’s room is decorated in a nostalgic style that Daisy hopes she will look back on fondly. The master bedroom is a grown-up space full of antique and vintage pieces. “I really like having hand-me-downs from the family,” says Daisy. “There are pieces I’ve restored so I can keep them. Doing that means they can become part of our home and that’s the next chapter in their story.”
All copy is reproduced here as it was supplied by Katie Treggiden to the client or publication.