At Home With Rachel @the_old_cottage
This week we are at home with Rachel the lady behind the beautiful home instagram account @the_old_cottage where she shares images of her charmingly rustic period cottage and her and day to day life in her very cosy 19th century cottage which was previously part of the Crown estate. Look out for her lovely Dachsunds; they are so cute...
Tell us a bit about you
I’m Rachel, a Reception teacher in a local small primary school. I am also the SENCO in my school as I coordinate the provision for children with special education needs or disabilities within my school. I live in a cottage in a very small village in Leicestershire with my boyfriend and my two long haired Dachshunds, Mabel and new puppy Matilda.
Tell us about your home
My home is a detached cottage built in around 1870 however, we are still not completely sure about dates as the deeds do not show individual houses due to the cottage being originally part of the Crown Estate, which technically means I purchased my cottage from the Queen! When purchasing the house it went to sealed bids, so that was a little nerve wracking!
How would you describe your home?
I absolutely love period properties so when I was renovating the cottage I tried to be sympathetic to this throughout. I didn’t feel that modern furniture would quite fit with the style of the cottage so looked for older pieces. I like to add a rustic feel to the cottage with lots of natural woods and muted colours. We sanded back beams and added in other new features such as a log burner.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
I would probably say the living room as this is the room I remember feeling most excited about renovating after seeing the cottage for the first time. It is filled with period feature such as the wooden beam across the fireplace, the little cupboard in the alcoves and a very wonky wooden door. I enjoy lighting the wood burner and snuggling down for the night!
How does your home reflect any passions or interests that you have?
As I mentioned in a previous question I love anything vintage or antique. This started off with clothing and has now moved into furniture or anything I can find to put in my house! I like excitement of not quite knowing what you are going to find and how each item is unique, different and had a story behind it. I have a real weakness for stoneware pots, glass bottles and anything made out of antique pine.
What are your favourite items in the home?
I thoroughly enjoy hunting for vintage pieces in auctions, antique shops, eBay, anywhere really.
I would have to say my favourite item is my wooden glass cabinet in my living room. I knew the type of piece I wanted for the space but it took me a while to find! I just love how rustic it is and it fits the space perfectly. I spend many hours filling it with items and constantly rearranging them!
When you moved into your house was it the finished article or was it a project?
It was most definitely a project! After being owned by the Crown estate, being a rental property and then left empty for about 18 months, the cottage wasn’t in the best condition when I picked up the keys. Infact, the estate agents had removed all the carpets whilst showing people round due to the smell and fleas! There was no flooring in most rooms, no skirting boards and random painting that had been started and not finished. We knocked out and restored two fireplaces, knocked through and converted an outhouse and designed a new kitchen and bathroom.
Have you done any renovation?
I was very lucky in the fact that my Dad is a very keen DIYer and did most of the work on my cottage, so most of the skills I have learnt have come from him. We pretty much learnt about the cottage as we went along, in particularly which are the best materials to use when renovating an older property. We did lots of reading of renovation blogs and lots of research on the internet. We had a builder who came in to do some larger jobs such as knocking through into outhouses and a joiner who laid all wooden flooring upstairs.
Have you had any DIY or styling disasters?
Not as of yet! I do take an awfully long time to make any kind of decision so hopefully after I’ve mulled it over for a good few months I know that it’s exactly what I want. We did have a slight scary moment when knocking through from the kitchen into the outhouse as we suddenly realised that we were going through an old chimney/stove that was used in the kitchen.
What is your top home styling tip?
Choose items that you love and stay true yourself. I get lots of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest but it is easy to feel a little overwhelmed so I try to think about how certain looks would fit in with my home. I like to keep things quite simple too as I feel that sometimes less is more.
Is there anything in your home that you couldn’t live without?
I’d have to say my two dogs, they just make my house feel like a home.
They say that every home tells visitors a story about who lives there. What do you think your home says about you?
I would hope that my cottage feels cosy and calm, warm and inviting, it is a very much loved home where I hope to make lots of memories.
The Home Edit
Lived-in look or showhome?
Lived in look.
If you could only paint your walls one colour, which one would it be?
Strong white by Farrow and Ball, a perfect off white.
What is your pet hate when it comes to your own or other’s homes?
Ripping out original feature in particular sash windows and replacing with upvc.
Favourite front door colour
Oval Room Blue
Carpet or Floorboards
Kitchen table dining or formal dining room?
Kitchen table dining
High gloss or rustic?
Wallpaper or Brick Walls?
If you enjoyed being at home with Rachel, you might like to take a look inside other popular home styling accounts on instagram and find out more about the people behind them. You can see more of these "at home with" articles here