I don’t know about you, but my favourite interiors tend to reflect their setting – I’m not talking about anything overly themed or forced, but a few subtle elements that add a bit of local character and echo the environment outside. Nowhere have I seen this achieved more beautifully than at Cartshed Cottages, a quartet of self-catering hideaways in North Norfolk that my boyfriend and I recently visited as part of my role at i-escape.com.
Set just a few miles from the sea, these one- and two-bedroom cottages occupy a row of restored flint-covered barns in the grounds of a Jacobean manor house. Owner Katie is an interior designer and she took her inspiration from the vast Norfolk landscapes, giving each house a palette of soothing colours to mirror the ever-shifting shades outside – and a wonderfully evocative name to match. Sky is decorated in a spectrum of pale blues, moody greys and deep indigos, Seal in smart slate and charcoal, and Samphire in the delicate grey-greens of the local salt marshes. The largest cottage, taupe- and oyster-hued Shell, has conch-encrusted mirrors, silvery fabrics and shimmering lights in homage to both the local coastline and the shell gallery that once occupied the space.
All four cottages mix designer pieces and rustic elements, with sleek Panton and Philippe Starck chairs alongside reindeer skins, old beams and pebble-clad showers. Dotted here and there are eye-catching ceramics from local pottery workshops, and bowls shaped from driftwood collected on the beach.
As well as being very stylish and very sophisticated, the cottages are incredibly spoiling – our stay coincided with a brief flurry of snow, and we soon found ourselves wishing for a blizzard to prevent us from leaving. There are wood-burning stoves and deep sofas for cosy afternoons, roll-top tubs and scented candles for indulgent soaks, and bespoke wooden kitchens with range ovens for cooking up holiday feasts. Katie and her husband Steve also leave plenty of little treats (hot water bottles, Ren toiletries, wine), as well as a list of personal recommendations covering everything from local pubs to their favourite oyster shacks. But best of all is the quiet stillness – we heard nothing except birdsong, and saw no-one other than a barn owl swooping silently past our window.
We can’t wait to return during the warmer months to experience a different side to the cottages. I’m dreaming of alfresco breakfasts on the lavender-scented terraces, strolls up the lane to pick fresh strawberries from the neighbouring farm, and long walks along windswept beaches… And of course lazy evenings marvelling at the beautiful design over a bottle of wine.
Book a stay at Cartshed Cottages through i-escape.com.
Photography by Cartshed Cottages