Cotswold Christmas interiors
11:58 05 December 2016
William Goddard Photography
Patsy Holdsworth believes she has found the perfect place to spend the festive season with friends and family
A tiny village in the Cotswolds which goes all the way back to Saxon times is the perfect place to spend a quiet and relaxing Christmas with friends and family.
Or so thinks Patsy Holdsworth, and she finds this particular village so enchanting that a few years ago she rented one of the cottages there with a view to living in it for many years to come.
But the surprise is that the 1815 cottage was very run-down and Patsy has spent her own money and a great deal of time doing it up. Luckily she is an interior designer so was not quite as overwhelmed at the prospect as most people would be.
‘I’ve always loved this village ever since my friend and I began riding her horses through its one and only street,’ she says. ‘It’s a delightful place with a strong community spirit but the chances of living here seemed remote. There are only about 30 houses and most of them are owned by one local family; they never come up for sale and hardly ever for rent.’
Then one day Patsy heard a pretty little Regency cottage – an end of terrace - had become available. ‘It had three bedrooms, one to become my office. So I tracked down the landlord and became his new tenant,’ she says. ‘This despite the shocking state of the place, both inside and out.
‘There was no heating and the plaster was coming off at the foot of the walls as there was no damp proof course,’ she continues. ‘The hob in the kitchen was dangerous and when the landlord tried to light the ancient Rayburn it actually exploded and the top cracked in half. The chimney was full to the top with jackdaw twigs and some of the electrical sockets were unsafe.’
The first night Patsy stayed there she was bitterly cold and realized there were mice in the back kitchen, to go by the teeth marks found in some fruit. As for the garden, it was completely wild and overgrown.
But Patsy had strong ideas on how she could make the cottage home as she has spent her career renovating more than 30 properties, both for herself and clients. So, with some input from the landlord, she has now worked wonders.
Wiring and sockets have been replaced and new ones added. The walls were patch-plastered and all the old dirty mite-ridden carpets and lino thrown out.
‘I laid new travertine flooring in the kitchen and hallway and sanded and painted the floorboards upstairs,’ she says. ‘I found that a blocked up fireplace in the sitting room concealed an inglenook so I opened it up and installed a new woodburning stove. Then I put an electric woodburner in the kitchen to replace the exploded Rayburn and replaced the dangerous hob.’
As for the motely collection of kitchen units she disposed of most of them, painted the remaining ones in Farrow & Ball’s Shaded White and bought another unit from B & Q plus a butchers’ block on wheels. She also added a new sink and new worktops.
‘The bathroom needed a really thorough deep clean,’ she says. ‘But it was worth the hours of elbow grease removing the built-up lime scale as beneath it was a nice cast iron bath. But I had to get a new loo as the old one leaked into the room below!’
Patsy then painted the whole cottage interior herself, including the walls, floors and ceilings and tiled the bathroom and cloakroom. She sewed her own curtains and cushions and re-upholstered her headboards and armchairs. She even painted the pictures. Much of her furniture she bought from eBay, Homesense or charity shops and then improved it with the use of expensive fabrics, new paint or interesting knobs.
‘I really love Kit Kemp as a designer,’ she says. ’She always inspires me with her sense of fun and is very clever at mixing lovely old pieces of furniture with new fabrics.’
The older a piece of furniture the more character it has, says Patsy. ‘I’ve had my kitchen table with its wonky leg for years but I repainted the base and it looks fine.
‘But of my new purchases I would say my best buy is my striped stair runner as it is actually made up of three identical cotton rugs from Homesense and they cost only £16.99 each.’
As for the exterior, a new front door and some tlc for the overgrown garden has transformed the whole look of the cottage
‘Would I change anything? Yes, I’d like a bigger woodburner in the sitting room as the heat goes straight up the open staircase,’ she says. ‘That’s the next to-do on my list.’
However Patsy hasn’t finished renovations yet. ‘My current project is the village hall which used to be the school,’ she says. ‘It’s the hub of social life here and as the village has been given a grant to renovate it I’m helping out with the interior design.’
Andrew Martin: 02072 255100
Annie Sloan: 01865 803168
Bedroom Furniture Direct: available at Amazon
Colony Roma: 02073 513232
Farrow & Ball: 01202 876141
Patsy Holdsworth Interiors: 07876 500900
T & G Woodware: 01275 841 800
The Jam Jar Lighting Company: 0121 439 1790
Topps Tiles: 0800 783 6262