Jane McIntyre, an interior designer and owner of Jane McIntyre Designs, also owns Little Green and Little Blue and here she tells us about the challenge and success of her renovation of Courtyard Cottages in Lymington…
‘Courtyard Cottages, two tiny cottages in Lymington have quite a story to tell. Originally a group of grain store, sheds and a storage barn attached to a property fronting the High Street they later became one building configured in an L shape attached to a Listed building. Unprepossessing at it’s best, set in a courtyard with no views and no vehicular access I saw little point in turning this into a home, even a rental home with the same attributes would have made little commercial sense. After much deliberation and after everyone I knew told me I was insane I decided to cut it in half and make two tiny, bijou properties for upmarket holiday letting.
The challenge was that both cottages at their widest point measure 2.3 metres, narrowing down to 2 metres. Thankfully I love a challenge! Basically the building was gutted, separated, re-insulated, plastered, replumbed, rewired. The water and electricity boards had lost them on the grid, so new supplies of both were installed, which involved digging up all the courtyard and a trench to the street, all at considerable cost.
However, they have made gorgeous little properties and the value overall has raised dramatically. Everything has been custom built – kitchens, bathroom cabinetry, beds, tables and all the decor designed by me.
First up are the pics of “Little Blue” so named because my starting point was the lovely GP & J Baker curtain fabric Salcombe Rose downstairs, which rested so well against Farrow & Ball’s Pitch Blue on the far wall. In this space of 8.5 metres x 2.3 metres I had to encompass kitchen, stairwell, storage, dining space and sitting room and make it all seem large enough for a couple sharing, so the position of the staircase became crucial as the upstairs layout depended upon it. Now one enters the cottage between the kitchen and dining space, past the understairs storage and coat rack to go straight ahead into the sitting room or turn left up the stairs.
The stairs wind at the last section, giving rise to the idea of the Captain’s Bed, so rather than walking straight into a bedroom the bedspace becomes a little enclave all of its own with shelves, storage under, power points and a tiny window.
The ten inch mattress and 1000 thread count Egyptian cotton bedding make this into a luxurious, away from it all resting place.
The need to walk through the passage created by the stairwell creates a sense of space, accentuated by the built in cupboards and small table which make up the “dressing space’, leading on into the bathroom. Thankfully there is a lot of light flooding in so at no time does this very tiny space become claustraphobic.
Other colours used are Farrow and Ball’s James White, which is marvellous for bouncing the light, Off White and Clunch, with the addittion of Cabbages and Roses Paris Rose wallpaper on one wall and inside the cupboard. Other fabrics upstairs are Swaffer and my favourite Kate Forman pattern, Roses Blue.
Little extra touches, which create a sense of affluence, are the oak door with hand-forged ironmongery, hand-forged window and door furniture throughout, a quality rich grey carpet upstairs and stone effect ceramic tiles downstairs.
All the woodwork within, including the kitchen, was lovingly created by the erstwhile blacksmith turned carpenter, Robert Harvery, herinafter known as Potting Shed Man.
Little Green, although benefitting from the sense of space which the pitched roof in the sitting area allowed, was severely hampered with the very small upstairs space. By necessity, therefore, the bathroom had to be placed downstairs, partly under the stairs, but as the distance to the bedroom, via a winding staircase, is so short it is really neither here nor there.
The small kitchen, through which one enters is also the thoroughfare to the seating area, so I was at great pains to keep the service area of the kitchen unseen from the sofa by adding a shoulder high wall between the two, which extends into the room by just a metre, thus allowing valuable storage on the kitchen side.
The double sized cupboard opposite the door houses coats, boots and all the cleaning equipment plus a high shelf for extras. A small table sits neatly in a corner for dining, leading into the living space and throughout is one of my best kept secrets, an amazing laminate floor (I usually hate them!) from an Austrian company called Kaindle who deliver a very good impression of wood along with a ten year guarantee. I am very pleased with the resulting lay and the price was impressively under £20 per metre.
The paint is Farrow and Ball Off White for all the woodwork and the most fabulous and moody Studio Green for the walls, hence the christening of Little Green. Fabrics down here are all Designers Guild.
The bedroom, at 2 metres wide and having little space for storage while also having to house the boiler, made the decision to open the ceiling to the rafters an easy one. Phew, more space to breathe!
Taking the cupboards over the stairwell also helped create an illusion of space and the use of some recycled oak beams made what could have been an ugly boxing into a pleasing array of cupboards. Add a mirror, a custom made oak bed with storage under and fat, cosy bed dressing and bingo, a pretty gorgeous bedroom even though I say it myself.
Of course no refurb story is complete without the “before” pics, so here are just a few.’
Thank you to Jane McIntyre for her fascinating blog with helpful information. If you would like help in renovating or choosing colours and fabrics for your property, click on the link to her website Jane McIntyre Design.