There is, tucked away just behind the smart shops of one of the Weald’s most attractive towns, an extraordinary little secret street – ancient cobbles, weatherboard cottages tumbling with flowers and, at its end, fields rambling away into distance. Live in this town for 20 years and you could easily never know it existed. 

Erica’s striking black bedroom is the cottage’s pièce de résistance

Erica’s striking black bedroom is the cottage’s pièce de résistance

Many people might also have opted for a single or small double bed, again to maximize the space. Erica made her mahogany four-poster for £28 from two Georgian reclaimed posts, set off by Chinese gilt Buddha heads atop each corner. The result is stunning...

Many people might also have opted for a single or small double bed, again to maximize the space. Erica made her mahogany four-poster for £28 from two Georgian reclaimed posts, set off by Chinese gilt Buddha heads atop each corner. The result is stunning

In the bedroom and en suite Erica opted for Marvic Toile de Chine wallpaper on the ceiling and matching fabric for the curtains: “I don’t count sheep to get to sleep - just Chinese couples!” she says

In the bedroom and en suite Erica opted for Marvic Toile de Chine wallpaper on the ceiling and matching fabric for the curtains: “I don’t count sheep to get to sleep - just Chinese couples!” she says

The black theme continues into the en suite, complete with barbed-wire toilet seat!

The black theme continues into the en suite, complete with barbed-wire toilet seat!

Two seemingly fixed bookcases at the end of the landing swing back to reveal the master bedroom and guestroom. The walls on the ascent to the first floor are filled with cherished family photographs and artworks

Two seemingly fixed bookcases at the end of the landing swing back to reveal the master bedroom and guestroom

The walls on the ascent to the first floor are filled with cherished family photographs and artworks

The walls on the ascent to the first floor are filled with cherished family photographs and artworks

Carpenter Ken Gates, who also made the bedroom door bookcases, made the guestroom’s bedhead, which hangs on the wall rather than being attached to the divan. It has been painted emerald and navy to match the valance and floor-length pure silk curtains

Carpenter Ken Gates, who also made the bedroom door bookcases, made the guestroom’s bedhead, which hangs on the wall rather than being attached to the divan. It has been painted emerald and navy to match the valance and floor-length pure silk curtains

Originally, the downstairs consisted of a hallway, two rooms and a kitchen. Erica’s solution was to take out the staircase and knock the remaining space – bar the kitchen – into one open, airy space

Originally, the downstairs consisted of a hallway, two rooms and a kitchen. Erica’s solution was to take out the staircase and knock the remaining space – bar the kitchen – into one open, airy space

Erica’s skills as an interior designer and eclectic taste have allowed her to seamlessly combine inherited family gems and charity shop finds with pops of colour and a smattering of sequins and sparkle

Erica’s skills as an interior designer and eclectic taste have allowed her to seamlessly combine inherited family gems and charity shop finds with pops of colour and a smattering of sequins and sparkle

Chairs upholstered in beautifully soft white leather are gathered around the dining table. Erica has made the very best of every available square centimetre but has added a wealth of fascinating features which make a guided tour a joy

Chairs upholstered in beautifully soft white leather are gathered around the dining table. Erica has made the very best of every available square centimetre but has added a wealth of fascinating features which make a guided tour a joy

The chandelier’s red flickering light bulbs are 45 years old

The chandelier’s red flickering light bulbs are 45 years old

The kitchen, between the work surfaces, measures just 5 x 6 feet but such is the design that it accommodates everything that Erica needs

The kitchen, between the work surfaces, measures just 5 x 6 feet but such is the design that it accommodates everything that Erica needs

...French doors leading out to Erica’s patio garden where climbing roses, lilies, jasmine, sweet peas, clematis and a dozen of their friends and relatives jostle for pride of place...

French doors leading out to Erica’s patio garden where climbing roses, lilies, jasmine, sweet peas, clematis and a dozen of their friends and relatives jostle for pride of place

“The living room floods with sun. The 70% silk with 30% Lurex Dupion curtains haven’t faded after eleven years!” Erica explains

“The living room floods with sun. The 70% silk with 30% Lurex Dupion curtains haven’t faded after eleven years!” Erica explains

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

17th Century Sandstone Farmhouse

Stella Hayes initially fell in love with the property's glorious garden. She has gone on to create a beautiful home.

60s Themed Seaside Holiday Home

I’m sure we’ve all thought about buying a house by the sea – perhaps after an idyllic holiday, or a bracing walk, even just a drive along the coast. On the morning we visit James Rourke’s house, as the sullen...

A Butterfly Unfurled

When Sally Harrington opens the huge front door of her Kentish weatherboard home I assume that the 1950s bungalow that once stood here was demolished to make way for the new house. “No,” she says, “it’s still in here somewhere,...