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 historical cottage in England’s Surrey 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 like a challenge. “I had an idea of how I wanted the house to 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 decor.

The couple invited Charlotte Saunders, one of our expert interior designers in the UK, to visit their home to discover the space and get a feel for their vision—a cozy house 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 and colours. There’s a lovely, cozy 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 color palette of blue and pink greet you like a hug. The cozy cottage décor continues in the kitchen, where the same blues are this time paired with sunny yellows to emphasize 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,” Charlotte explains, “and having those different colors as you go through the house really makes it come alive.”

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

To ensure the space felt truly unique to them, the couple sought custom designs from our made-to-order Tailored by OKA service, customosing their perfect seating and the upholstery for each design. In the cottage’s kitchen, you’ll find our made-to-order Stafford Dining Chair and Beale Loveseat, while in the sitting room, two Highmore Armchairs invite you to take a seat, and in the master bedroom our Fanshawe Footstool takes a moment in the spotlight. “I went to the OKA store and Charlotte described all of the different sofas, what they were filled with and then let me sit on them to find out if they were comfortable or not,” Kate says. “That was hugely important for me, because I’m known for buying terrible sofas, and these are all so comfortable.”

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. In the kitchen, for example, you’ll find our round Arthur Dining Table, as well as our curved-edged Solomon Coffee Table and Fontana Side Table. Happily, the space is working perfectly for them, and they’ve already enjoyed hosting family and friends. “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?”