When embarking on a house renovation, it’s anyone’s guess what you may uncover along the way. A leaking roof, rotting floorboards, dodgy electrics – the joys are endless. But for Kate and David, whose Grade II listed cottage in Guildford spans five centuries, the surprises were altogether more delightful. Hidden underneath the tongue-and-groove boarding, which was installed throughout the property in the late 1800s, the couple discovered beautiful wooden beams, perfectly preserved. They’re just a few of a number of historical features within the home, which Kate and David carefully restored and enhanced during their renovation, while simultaneously creating a space suited for modern family life. “We wanted something that had character and history, but we also wanted to create something very contemporary,” David explains.

When it came to the interior design, the couple knew how they wanted the space to look but were unsure how to achieve it – finding the perfect balance between old and new, while incorporating their existing furniture pieces, seemed a challenge. With our Interior Design Service coming highly recommend by their daughter, the pair arranged a consultation at our Guildford store, where they met with our one of experts, Charlotte Saunders. “I had an idea of how I wanted the house to look and feel, but I’m not very good at choosing specific pieces,” Kate says, “and one of the first things that attracted me to OKA was how the brand styles things.”

Two patterned armchairs sit on a patterned rug, in a low-ceilinged room with wooden beams
A collage of images, including a two patterned armchairs and a window ledge decorated with accessories.

Following the initial consultation, the couple invited Charlotte to their home to discover the space and get a feel for their vision – a cosy home that spoke to traditional cottage style while befitting both the historical features and the modern renovation in the kitchen/dining room. “I explained what I wanted, and Charlotte got it right away,” says Kate. “We were very lucky to have her; we wanted somebody who’s good with fabrics and textures, and one of the goals was for everything to look quite natural, with natural fabrics, colours and textures. There’s a lovely, cosy feel to the rooms and I think that’s what OKA is particularly good at.”

Upon entering the home, you’re immediately welcomed by the inviting sitting room, where plump seating, natural textures and a warm colour palette of blue and pink greet you like a hug. The cosy cottage décor continues in the kitchen, where the same blues are this time paired with sunny yellows to emphasise the brighter and more modern space. Clean silhouettes nod to the contemporary elements of the property, while more traditional patterns nod to classic cottage style and help to enhance the historical features. Throughout the home, from the study and TV room to the bedrooms upstairs, natural textures play a central role, with wood, linen and rattan rooting the house to the beautiful country outside. By weaving common threads throughout the space, Charlotte ensured each room feels perfectly in tune with the next, and yet somehow utterly individual.

“I wanted to make the home feel really welcoming, and having those different colours as you go through the house really makes it come alive,” Charlotte explains of her process. “I knew they loved pattern and wanted to include some bespoke pieces to make the space feel really unique to them.”

Three images showing a dining set up with a round table, an upholstered headboard, and a patterned footstool.
A cosy bedroom with a wavy headboard in a vibrant pattern, orange cushions on the bed and a rattan lamp.

Using our made-to-order Tailored by OKA service, the couple were able to put their own stamp on the space by customising their perfect seating and selecting the upholstery for each design. As our team works with a vast array of fabric houses, one of the benefits of using our Interior Design Service is being able to select any material you’d like for our Tailored by OKA designs. In the cottage’s kitchen, you’ll find our made-to-order Stafford Dining Chair and Beale Loveseat upholstered in Kate and David’s choice of Linwood’s Juno Linen, in the shades Mouse, Sea Salt and Hazelwood. In the sitting room, two Highmore Armchairs are reimagined in Lewis & Wood’s Tribal print in Monsoon Blue, and in the master bedroom our Fanshawe Footstool gives Colefax & Fowler’s Woodfern a moment in the spotlight.

“The ability to use different upholstery fabrics made the whole design more bespoke to us,” says Kate. “I didn’t know that OKA offered that service, and it can really make everybody’s house more individual.”

In addition to furniture upholstery, our Interior Design Service can support with paint colours, curtains, blinds, trims and piping. For the cottage’s five bedrooms, Charlotte designed bespoke headboards in different shapes and upholstered them in fabrics of Kate and David’s choice, while custom blinds and curtains in each of the rooms helped pull the look together. “It’s such an added bonus to have that as part of the service, because it means they still have the OKA style,” says Kate. “They have made the home perfect.”

As well as ensuring the space had the look and feel Kate and David desired, Charlotte was careful to meet their practical requirements too. With young grandchildren and pets, the couple wanted to avoid any sharp corners, glass, loose fabrics and trims. Happily, the space is working perfectly for them, and they’ve already enjoyed hosting family and friends in their newly designed home. “Everything that has been put in the house works – everything,” says Kate. “It looks beautiful and it’s practical as well. We love it – what more can I say?”

To find out more about our Interior Design Service, book a complimentary consultation.