anne ditmeyerinterior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: di overton of ghost furniture

by anne

It’s not everyday that we get to feature a home that is between 300 and 400 years old, but such is the case for the home of Di Overton, whose cottage sits in a little hamlet of six ancient properties in Northumberland National Park (northeast England, not far from the Scottish borders). Granted, the house has had some work and has about doubled in size since Di and her husband first purchased it as a weekend retreat in 1997. In 2008, after two years of waiting for planning permission, they extended it, making a huge open-plan space, and it became their permanent home. The two windows in the lounge look over the Tyne Valley, and Di says it’s like having two ever-changing oil paintings on the wall. As for the style, the cottage is an eclectic mix of old and new with a combination of items from their old business, inherited pieces from their parents, Ghost Furniture pieces from their current business and numerous antiques collected over the years. I love how Di puts it: “It is very important to both of us that our home reflects our lives past and present.” Thanks, Di! — Anne

Photos by Brent Darby.

Image above: Our bedroom sits in the eaves of the cottage in the new extension. Everything had to comply with the strict rules of the National Park and even had to have barn-style roof lights in the upstairs ceilings. The huge chandelier came from our city home, and the bed cover was found in a brocante in the south of France and for many years was used as a curtain before an expert told me it was a bedspread. Never too old to learn!

Image above: The breakfast bar that separates the kitchen from the dining area is made from a tree trunk found in the forest that surrounds us and the bar itself is a huge piece of African padouk, which is one of the hardest woods in the world. The bar is held up by some spare spindles from our spiral staircase.

Image above: The bathroom is in the old part of the cottage, and we love that the bath and basin at are odds with that, as they are ultra-modern. They are made from a soft polypropylene material and have lights inside a double skin. So, uniquely, we light our bathroom with them at night. The bath gets softer when filled with hot water so is an extra comfortable place to relax.

Image above: Under each window in the lounge area we have placed a pigskin chair. Wonderful places to sit and read then look up to the fabulous views over the valley.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Di’s house tour after the jump!

Image above: In a corner of our bedroom, we have a little French daybed given to us by a good friend in Paris. Each of our grandchildren has slept in this little bed at some time. We found the bolster and cushion on a street corner in the Bois du Boulogne in Paris, in a bag with one other accompanied by a note saying, “please take these.” Who could resist? The Hermes boxes do contain a collection of Hermes scarves, I am pleased to say.

Image above: Our guest bedroom is in the old part of the cottage and often becomes a storage area for works in progress from our Ghost Furniture range. Not a problem. We have painted the ancient floorboards white, which has made a huge difference to the light in the room.

Image above: Our dining table and chairs were inherited. Last year I summoned up the courage to paint them. Old cottages like ours can be dark places with low ceilings and deep-set windows, our walls are three-feet thick, so dark furniture can be daunting. This has made a huge difference to the overall look of the open-plan space, as it immediately opened it up.

Image above: The lounge area is split into male and female. The huge D & H came from the sign of an old pub in Northumberland. The D side is mine and is feminine with a French antique sofa, and the H side is Harvey’s with a leather sofa and lots of wood. The Landscape Rug came from wheredidyoubuythat.com and is sculpted to show the landscape of Serge Lesage in France with little snowcapped mountains and even has grass growing out of a little meadow.

Image above: The kitchen has a typical Ghost Furniture look. Finished with the now-famous paint specially mixed for us in France. We have added framed fruit, a vintage breadboard, an old paint palette, etc. etc. to the doors and walls and even painted the fridge black, edged in bronze. We numbered the doors with little enamel signs from RE in Corbridge, which is not far from us — happily as it is one of our favourite shops.

Image above: The focal point of the cottage is the cast-iron spiral staircase, which we commissioned. The lattice work treads cast a fabulous light onto the wood floor from the roof light that sits in the ceiling above it.

Image above: Coming from a huge Edwardian house in the city to a cottage in the country caused us some problems, as we had huge pieces that we didn’t want to part with. This chandelier was one of our favourites so we figured if we put it in a corner it would work — and it did.

Image above: The guest bedroom is a fabulously bright space. We designed and commissioned the bed from Stan Pike, a local master blacksmith. The old photographs above the bed are of our ancestors.

Image above: The cottage sits on the edge of the village green, so we actually have a sunken garden that surrounds us. We sit on the edge of the hill, which gives us those fabulous views. The front part (with the chimney) is the original building. We used the stone from the dry stone walls that used to be the garden walls to build the extension. These were originally from a byre that was attached to the cottage hundreds of years ago. We discovered the floor of the byre when we excavated so effectively we had put back what was originally there.

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  • That cottage is like a fairy tale, I can scarcely believe that it is real! What an amazing sneak peek, what an amazing, eclectic style, thanks so much for sharing!

  • I love Di and her blog, she is fascinating!!

    Joyeaux Noel!

    I have a new giveaway from My Sparrow, do come and enter!

    Art by Karena

  • Every single photo is heaven. Who wouldn’t want to live there? The colours and textures are luxurious while still being accessible – love it and love the wall colours!

  • I don’t find words to say how much i love that cottage.
    I which i had a house like that

  • This home is a dream and such an effective mix of old and new. It made me happy to read that the owners have grandchildren. I can’t imagine putting together such a charming home but perhaps in a few decades…

  • Please, please, please, would it be possible to find out vendor information on the bathtub. A soft tub is my dream! Ahhhhhhhh…….

  • This home may put an end my design blog browsing, how could anything else measure up to such perfection?!

  • Spot on Grace the bath tub is certainly from Wet. Thank you for showing my home and thank you everyone for your wonderful comments. Love and a very Merry Christmas from a snowy England

  • What a charming home. Very beautiful & sophisticated! I want to have that glowing bathtub.

  • this home is extraordinary!!!! i am absolutely in love with this cottage. one of my favorite sneak peeks so far.

  • absolutely charming, beautiful, amazing. I adore this little cottage inside and out. I cannot tell you how jealous I am of this place! Wow, I think I would be happy every day just to live there! Gorgeous!

  • What a lovely place. I love the bath tub, but am wondering how you change to bulbs.

  • Homesick!
    My parents live near Humshaugh (if Di is reading this then she will be familiar), and as I am spending my first Christmas in my new home in New Zealand, this post made me miss it a lot!
    What’s also crazy is that I was on the RE website yesterday (the shop in Corbridge that Di mentioned) looking for props for my wedding next year.
    So happy I just booked tickets to visit home in August. And so happy to see a local home be featured, and a lovely one at that.

  • Meg: the fixture above the bar is from The French House http://www.thefrenchhouse.net/
    Amy W: I will give Humshaugh a wave from you when I next pass. I pass that way each time I go to Hexham. Enjoy a sunny Christmas in NZ as it is freezing here xx
    Lisa: There is access from underneath to change the bulbs. The bath can be lifted with one finger it is so light.
    Jamie: Thanks for the compliment, lovely to hear from you again.
    Kimberley: Your comment has made me realise just how lucky I am, thank you.
    Everyone who mentioned the bath: Lying back in that soft bath at night with the stars in view above me and the only light coming from the bath and basin is HEAVEN I can tell you.
    Merry Christmas to everyone xx

  • Ack, I die for this cottage! The male/female lounge area is brilliant! Love that bath, thanks, Di for delving more into the feeling of it and Merry Christmas!

  • So lovely to see my friend Di’s beautiful cottage featured here. It’s a wonderful place, made even more special with Di’s unique decorating touches.

  • I love that the heavy wooden dining room table and chairs have been painted white. I would be afraid to do that, but it looks so fresh – instead of heavy and dark. Many beautiful details in this house!

  • I’m intrigued by what appears to be a blue refrigerator in the kitchen. If that is the case, was it a special order item or did you paint it? Perhaps my eyes are deceiving me…

  • I painted the fridge myself with matte black and blackened bronze paints and finished it with a matte varnish. Just an old white fridge/freezer revamped.

  • So fascinating and well done !
    Beautiful contrasts of textures and materials with such attention to detail. I will look at it this cottage again from time to time and take notes on this really special home.

  • your house is stunning, am so in love with the chandelier from your bedroom, the bath tub is something I would probably kill for and I LOOOVEEE the way you introduced rough wood to this polished interior! I am obsessed with weathered wood and its lovely raw texture…

  • Very beautiful – and perfectly liveable too. The setting is also gorgeous. Thanks for the tour.

    Lesley Morgan, Brit living in South Africa