Behind the traditional façade of Tim and Janet Brown’s sensitively restored and extended cottage lies light-filled, contemporary-inspired interiors.

It took Tim and Janet Brown a matter of hours to make an offer for Dovedale Cottage after falling in love with the run-down property when they viewed it in 2010.

“We walked up the overgrown drive, which opened into a garden with fabulous views over hilly countryside,” says Janet, “and the whole scene was so relaxing that I knew it wasn’t just a property we were looking at but potentially a great lifestyle, too.”

The Project

  • Name: Tim and Janet Brown
  • Build cost: £160,000 (£2,961/m²)
  • Build time: 1 year 1 month
  • Location: Derbyshire

Built in the late 1700s as part of the local Haddon Hall estate, the worker’s cottage was a typical old Derbyshire stone property with small, dark rooms and extremely low ceilings. “It actually felt quite claustrophobic inside, so we employed a local architect to help us open up the space and create a more practical layout,” explains Tim.

The cottage was not listed, but the style and specification of the renovation work needed to be approved by the Peak District National Park planning authority, who stipulated a traditional external appearance and the use of local materials. Consequently the renovation work was carried out using locally quarried Stanton stone, and the couple had to have the roof completely rebuilt in traditional stone slabs. Due to planning restrictions the roof height could not be raised to create additional headroom, so instead the Browns decided to lower the entire ground floor of the cottage by 700mm, excavating even deeper externally where the new extension was to be built.

Only the living room and one of the bedrooms have remained in the same position — every other part of the house was completely reconfigured. The single storey lean-to kitchen and bathroom were demolished, replaced by a two storey extension housing a new kitchen with a bedroom above, together with a single storey dining area with a sloping roof which echoes the line of the old lean-to.

Replacement oak windows were made locally to match the original design, and externally the property is still a typical 18th century Derbyshire cottage, sitting in a newly landscaped English cottage garden. Internally, however, the Browns wanted a more contemporary feel, which they’ve achieved by designing a stunning ‘floating’ staircase, with a glass wall to separate the internal spaces.

“Oak doors, flooring and some of the furniture were all made by a local joinery business,” adds Janet, who is now retired and enjoyed project managing the 12-month renovation and extension. “In fact, we were really pleased that everybody involved in the project was based within a 15-mile radius of the cottage.”

Dovedale Cottage is available for holiday rentals through Unique Home Stays – 01637 881942;

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