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d o r s e t C o t ta g e

Living room For a rustic touch, try painting old furniture, like Claire has the coffee table. Coffee table painted in Down Pipe, Farrow & Ball

LIVING THE DREAM poor condition when they bought it, but Claire and David could see past the dated woodchip and orange pine, recognising its potential. ‘The house had good bones and we wanted to put our own stamp on a place rather than buy somewhere already done,’ says Claire. They lived with Claire’s parents while the work was carried out, with David taking on the role of project manager. Improvements included upgrading the kitchen, where they painstakingly laid a composite blue lias flagstone floor with an authentic, rustic patina; installing a new bathroom; stripping and sanding all the floorboards and decorating throughout. They also installed two new windows into the end gable, updated the plumbing and wiring and added soundproofing. ‘The walls were paper thin,’ says Claire. ‘However, there was no need to alter the layout or install an extension, so we didn’t do anything too radical.’ Their home is now a pleasing blend of idyllic country cottage style and modern simplicity. ‘We didn’t want to go totally rustic and aimed to replicate some of the elements of our London home, like the bookshelves, which we had made by a local carpenter,’ says Claire. ‘After much procrastination, we decided to paint the brick chimney breast in the living room white, >

Moving from London to Dorset gave Claire Bowman the opportunity to return to her roots

What did you love about your country childhood? ‘Having the freedom to go off and play in the river and meadows. We’d pack up jam sandwiches and our fishing nets and be gone all day. Now, Flora and I will go for picnics. We recently discovered a field of sunflowers – it was like stepping into a scene in Provence.’

What childhood activities do you recreate with Flora? ’We head to the coast at the first opportunity. We recently bought a sea kayak, which reminds me of childhood boating expeditions.’

How has it been rediscovering the area through adult eyes? ‘I probably never fully appreciated the countryside as a child, but now I often stop the car to admire the view.’

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