Really old homes usually go hand in hand with conservative interior design styles that elegantly portray the passing of time. This 600-year-old British cottageWhat is a cottage? A cottage typically refers to a small, simple house that offers... More, however, has a completely different story.
Amanda Burnside bought the Old Forge with her husband back in 2015, and they’ve been bringing new life into this historical dream house ever since. Not only did they manage to keep the country home’s vintage character, but they’ve also brought it to the 21st century — parts of it, at least, since it’s estimated to be a 10-year renovation project.
To learn more, we spoke with Amanda about her incredible home makeover journey and what it all means to her and her family. So, for those of you who love interior design and have a soft spot for modern country, in particular, feast your eyes on this inspiring renovation project and read our interview to find out how historical charm can work alongside modern upgrades — with a little DIY thrown in there to make things even more interesting. Besides, who said old homes need to look old-fashioned?
Q: What style best describes your home?
Amanda: “I think that’s such a hard question, as I like so many styles and find inspiration everywhere. But, I probably lean toward modern country. The cottage has so many beautiful original features and these are the things that shine through, so we decided to keep the decor neutral and not to draw away from the beams, fireplaces and the quirkiness of the cottage. As a family of five with animals, the items we have in the home have to be practical, and I am all about the ease of having furniture that’s easy to look after and wipe down, and that I am not overly precious about!”[beforeafter]
Q: What were your sources of inspiration when decorating your home?
Amanda: “The sources of inspiration were the original features in each room. The floorboards and exposed brickwork in some rooms, along with the fireplaces, and starting to think about each room design from there. We’ve had certain pieces of furniture for some time, and I tend to up-cycle these and give them a fresh coat of paint to change with the room as we decorate. I never have a budget for the interiors. As such, most of it goes on renovating and I always try to work with what we have or I can acquire from secondhand local market places. I also get a buzz out of doing this and not buying brand new items to complete rooms. Instead, putting an individual spin on a chest of drawers, for example, gives me great happiness! We tend to go for a neutral palette, but recently have been a little braver and opted for some darker, muted tones, which seems to suit the cottage more, given its low ceilings. I find lots of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest. There are some great accounts out there and people doing fantastic things with their homes.”[beforeafter]
Q: What are some of the challenges you faced?
Amanda: “Definitely the biggest challenge has to be the fact that our home is 600 years old, which tends to add a range of complex issues to the renovation. We have learned to expect the unexpected, and that each room we do will result in us having to work with the cottage — and that means we have to find other solutions to getting around things. When we put in the slipper bath, we found out there was no space for the drainage to fit between the floor and the ceiling of the room down below, as houses were not built like that hundreds of years ago! As a result of this, we had to build an oak platform for the bath to sit on, therefore allowing us to fit the water pipes in. You also have to bear in mind none of the walls and floors are straight, so we need to build things up more one side than the other so they don’t look wonky! The other issue with that is the ceilings are not even, so things actually cannot be truly straight and have to sit on a wonk so they do!”[beforeafter]
Q: When it comes to creating a home, what do you think is always worth investing in?
Amanda: “I think, with our other renovations, we were renovating to sell. But, with the Old Forge, we know we want to create a home we are going to stay in for some time. We, therefore, decided to invest in better appliances in the kitchen and a natural wood worktop and Belfast sink, as we felt that was in keeping with our modern country theme. I also managed to persuade my husband to invest in two ovens and a warming drawer! Sanitary ware in the bathrooms was also something where we chose middle-of-the-range items, instead of budget ones.”[beforeafter]
Q: What essential dos and don’ts would you share with someone looking to bring their home to life?
Amanda: “I would say don’t rush into anything, and live in it for a while. Your views change and I have decorated the living room in three different colors before I was happy with it! Do research and create a mood board or Pinterest board, as seeing all your choices on paper can really help narrow down what look you are aiming for. I would also decide on a budget to renovate each room. We usually do this together and work out the main things to be done that are a priority and assign the budget from there. We are never left with enough to maybe furnish the room completely, but know we can aim for something and add to it over time as and when we have some more money. Never be afraid to buy pre-loved items to either sand down or paint. These have, quite often, been the things that I love most in a room, and I get great satisfaction knowing I got a great deal on them and brought them back to life.”[beforeafter]
Q: If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?
Amanda: “Probably have started the cottage renovation when we were a bit younger and have a bigger budget! We knew when we came to view the cottage on a sunny day in June 2015 that it would be a 10-year project for us. We are six years in, not finished and exhausted! In all seriousness, no regrets. This was meant to be our home, and we have always wanted to live in this beautiful village. Having had a couple of other houses fall through here made me realize the Old Forge was waiting for us. How blessed are we to be able to help restore a beautiful listed cottage and call it our home.”
Do you have an exciting renovation project you’d like to showcase on Point2? Reach out and tell us how you created your dream home!
* All photos included in this article are courtesy of Amanda Burnside.