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Set in the English countryside, this restored cottage is a designer’s dream

A row of dilapidated cottages has become the most idyllic space for a designer to live and work.
A weatherboard and brick country cottage with an outdoor alfresco area.Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp

Sometimes, if luck is on your side, a dream home can find you. That’s how it was for interior designer and renovator Sophie. “I was looking at properties with my mother, who had already sold her house, but the moment we walked through the door here I said, ‘Sorry Mum, I’ve got to have this one’,” she says. “I quickly put my house on the market and thankfully everything fell into place.”

A white country cottage with an outdoor seating area.
This property, located in Norfolk in the UK, has been given a new lease on life thanks to owner and interior designer Sophie Allsop of Sophie & Boo. Garden furniture and wicker planters from Neptune. For similar chairs, try ‘Hamptons’ chairs from Naturally Cane. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp )

Sophie had lived just a few kilometres away with her daughter Florence, now nine, but was at the stage in her business where she either needed to rent a studio or have more space to work from home. Her design business is focused on specialising in creating beautiful and timeless interiors.

Who lives here?

Sophie, founder of interior design business Sophie & Boo, her daughter Florence, nine, their Cocker Spaniel, Tiggy and show pony, Lolly.
What do you love most? Sophie: “The house has every room I need and in a manageable size. I’d like a Georgian rectory but the reality of maintaining that to the standard I would want it to be is not achievable.”
What are you inspired by? “American design duo, Brooke and Steve Giannetti. They have a great aesthetic and know how to create a cosiness that feels natural and still looks sharp.”
Future plans? “I’ve just put in a veg patch so next on the list is a potting shed and greenhouse.”

Owner Sophie leading a white pony near the stables.
Sophie with her show pony, Lolly. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

This house hadn’t been touched in more than 40 years when Sophie bought it in 2020. “It was very much in need of love and a complete renovation, but it just had that lovely feel about it,” says Sophie.

A white panelled hallway with a timber table and pot plants.
“I’ve got the studio I wanted, a beautiful shepherd’s hut out in the orchard and the house ticks all the boxes. It feels like it is everything I’ve been working towards and I just love it,” she says. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

It is laid out as a string of rooms in the format of a long barn, although it would have originally been a row of farm worker cottages with a low barn at one end. “Structurally, it was sound and the rooms have stayed pretty much the way they were – I made one change upstairs, turning the old landing into an ensuite bathroom,” explains Sophie, “but the main transformation has been in the decor.”

Antique books and candle holders sitting on a sideboard.
The house is filled with delightful pieces that help add to its warm feel. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)


Sophie had a clear vision for this house. “I know what I like,” she says. “I love colour if I’m staying in a hotel – I love a Kit Kemp hotel – but I can’t live with it at home. My style is that calm but cosy feel.”

An all-white country kitchen with shaker-style cabinets and a farmhouse sink.
For similar wall lights, try ‘London’ wall lights from Lighterior. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

“The kitchen has been at the heart of every house I’ve renovated so my big kitchen table has to fit even if that means taking walls down,” shares Sophie, explaining it’s all about cosy for her, which is why there is an inset fire in the kitchen along with an Everhot range.

An antique timber dining table and bench in the dining room.
This antique dining table has been with the family through many moves. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

Thanks to her crack joinery team, the kitchen was built to her specifications and design.

A pantry with panelled walls and shelving.
An original pantry had the door removed and is now a serene space. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)
A mudroom with wall panelling, a bench and basket storage.
A mud room is a must for a country home, especially with children and dogs involved. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)


The palette in the snug is painted in Fenwick & Tilbrook Herring’s Lane. For a similar paint colour, try Dulux Stowe White. Sophie rescued a couple of pieces of furniture from her childhood home that had been made by an old family friend.

A snug sitting area with a white sofa and stone fireplace.
The ‘Otto’ sofa is from Sofa.com. For similar, try Comfortable Chic ‘Montauk’ sofa from Temple & Webster. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

Living room

The house was last renovated sometime in the 1970s when the trend was to strip out all the original features, so much of Sophie’s approach has been about putting layers of detail and interest back. “There was nothing beautiful here, nothing to look at,” she says. “Fortunately, a big part of my life is going to antiques fairs and we have some dealers we work with in the business so I am constantly looking for things.”

A modern country living room with a stone fireplace and white sofas.
The sofa in the more formal sitting room is from B&B Italia and the ottoman was made to order by Sophie’s interior design business, Sophie & Boo. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

She has installed panelling to bring interest to walls, added bespoke fireplaces to create focal points and adjusted the size of doors and openings to rebalance the sense of scale. Sophie’s style cleverly plays with texture and subtleties, and the home is punctuated with pieces with history at their heart. Furniture in the living room had been in her childhood home and had languished in storage until settling here.

Design studio

Room for a dedicated design studio was one of the main selling points for Sophie when it came to this house and the exposed flint wall is typical of this area.

A Scandi-style cottage studio with exposed beams, a stone back wall and white panels.
The textured rug is from Bombay Sprout. For a similar pendant, try Beautiful Halo. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

“All of the design work happens in there and client meetings to look at samples,” shares Sophie. “We have also held Christmas events in there.” The extended console in front of the rustic wall was custom made by Sophie’s joinery team.

Antique pottery vessels.
Most of the furniture and accessories were sourced through Sophie & Boo. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

Main bedroom

“I love the symmetry of the windows that frame the bed,” says Sophie of the main bedroom.

An all-white main bedroom with panelled cupboards.
“I also love having the space to scale up the furniture with drawers as bedside tables and statement lamps,” says Sophie. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

Guest bedroom

Sophie took part of the old landing to create an ensuite for this guest room in which most of the items are sourced through Sophie & Boo. “We often have guests staying and, as we are so close to the beach, people love to come to visit. Everyone loves this room because of the amazing bathroom,” says Sophie. “I wanted it to feel like a beautiful hotel.”

An all-white guest bedroom with an adjoining ensuite.
For a similar bath, try The Copper Sink & Bath Company. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

“I wake up every morning and think how lucky I am to live here. It is just as I envisaged it.”

A white ensuite with a classic freestanding bath.
A freestanding roll-top bath features in the ensuite of one of the guest rooms. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

Shepherd hut

Custom-built by Greendown Shepherd Huts, this hideaway is a great addition to the orchard. Rented out @sophieandboo_retreats, it has everything needed for a cosy stay including a compact kitchen, wood-burning stove and its own shower room with WC. Sophie’s company makes bespoke cabinetry so she designed the kitchen and all the fittings. The joinery is painted in Dimpse and the walls are painted in Pointing, both Farrow & Ball.

A modern shepherd's hut with a kitchenette, hearth and bathroom.
Bathroom basin by Sanctuary Bathrooms. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

On the other end, bespoke curtains by Sophie & Boo demarcate space for the comfy bed and there is enough room to have your morning cup of tea. Above it all is a trio of pendant shades from Garden Trading.

A modern white shepherd's hut with a curtained bedroom and chairs.
Pendant shades from Garden Trading. For similar pendants, try Beacon Lighting. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

A glammed up version of a caravan, the shepherd hut has plenty of room for lazing about in luxury. “The shepherd hut is a little piece of heaven,” says Sophie. “It’s got all of the luxuries of the house on a smaller scale. A decadent bed with 100 per cent linen bedlinen, a cosy fire, large shower room, little kitchen made by the same company as the house, set in the most beautiful orchard.”

We love… tiny homes
The shepherd hut exterior with an outdoor seating area and pizza oven.
Outside, more seating is provided. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

Alfresco dining

“Its privacy sold it to me,” says Sophie of the home. “It is tucked away and hidden. I also love the orchard.” She has used screens and plantings, including espaliered apple trees, to shield the garden dining space.

A weatherboard and brick country cottage with an outdoor alfresco area.
Large trees also provide shade in the warmer months. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

“I’m never happy unless I’m renovating so I usually live in a house for three-ish years and then get itchy feet. But I don’t feel that way about this one,” Sophie says.

A white pony in a stable.
An onsite stable for Lolly is one of the advantages of the property for Sophie. (Photography: The Contented Nest / Styling: Sophie Allsopp)

Interior designer: Sophie Allsop, sophieandboo.co.uk, @sophieandboointeriors.


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