The Sorting Office is a rural self-catering retreat which ticks all the boxes for an escape from the city. Who wouldn’t want to stay in a gingerbread house complete with thatched roof? And this one is set on the fringes of the New Forest which, from the outside, could very easily have been plucked from the pages of Hansel and Gretel. But once you step through the stable door, fairytale charm makes way for a crisp luxury interior and chic country living. In other words, the best of both worlds.
Take a Look
Built in the mid-18th century, this former village Post Office serviced the residents of Whitsbury from the 1930s before retiring from public duty. Now, it’s a luxury self-catering cottage with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a charming kitchen/diner, a cosy beamed sitting room and a lovely garden room opening out to a private garden.
Cool whites and charcoal greys blend with aged timber beams and an inglenook fireplace in the original part of the cottage while the kitchen opens out to a modern extension that is so sympathetically done, it feels as though it has been there forever. With hanging greenery, a 1920’s style cocktail trolley and a bounty of natural light, the garden room would surely be the chosen spot for morning coffees and warming mulled drinks on crisp autumn evenings.
- Small spaces can take a few tips from the garden room where this tiny corner has been styled beautifully. Rattan or wicker chairs take up much less space than bulky upholstered armchairs and can be just as comfortable when dressed with sheepskins and cushions.
- Don’t forget to provide a small side table for drinks, and note, each piece here can be easily moved when necessary especially that lovely drinks trolley on wheels.
- Even cottage windows don’t need fussy curtains. A tidy roman blind that is the same colour as the walls provides privacy when needed, but is unobtrusive when pulled up.
- Choose the largest coffee table that the room will accommodate. One that will provide ample space for drinks, snacks, books, and still have room for decorative accessories.
- Alcoves shouldn’t be wasted. They provide the perfect opportunity to display a well curated collection of books, art and little treasures.
- Paint them the same colour as the wall and the contents will stand out even more.
- Beams can always be painted out white if they are overwhelming a space, but this doesn’t necessarily have to follow through in every room.
- Open shelves under the peninsula on the dining side keeps tableware handy. Sticking to a white colour scheme with the tableware keeps it all looking neat and tidy.
- If the ceiling is too low for fitted wall units, put up a shelf instead. I happen to prefer this in rooms that do have enough ceiling height too, as it’s much more light and airy.
- Keep the cottage theme going with wooden worktops, metro wall tiles and a butler sink.
- Sticking to a neutral colour palette in every room ensures that they flow.
- As does the use of natural materials, warm wood, and simple decoration. The sum of which create an interior that is calming and restful.
- Cottage bedrooms really benefit from simple furnishings, but comfort is key. Plump quilts and pillows are essential. As are handy bedside tables with a reading light.
- Carpet provides extra comfort underfoot and so does a luxurious sheepskin rug.
- Tiles may often be the practical choice in a bathroom, but wood panelling is a lot more sympathetic to the history of a cottage and a lot less clinical.
- A simple wooden stool is the perfect place to put toilettries, books and the essential glass of wine.
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