Having rung the bell at Sarnia’s cottage, seemingly without result, I am beginning to wonder whether I have made a mistake about our appointment. Knowing that she is an interior decorator, I am at least in no doubt that I have come to the right place: the front garden suits this pretty cottage on the marshes perfectly.

In the dining room an oval table is set with Bohemian amber glass

In the dining room an oval table is set with Bohemian amber glass

In one alcove a tiny window displays a collection of cranberry, turquoise, emerald green and cobalt blue coloured glass

In one alcove a tiny window displays a collection of cranberry, turquoise, emerald green and cobalt blue coloured glass

In the drawing room a remarkably tall winged chair has been covered in a brick-red Percheron fabric. The sofas are upholstered in Colefax & Fowler plain linen and checks

In the drawing room a remarkably tall winged chair has been covered in a brick-red Percheron fabric. The sofas are upholstered in Colefax & Fowler plain linen and checks

Some of Sarnia and Jeannie’s sofa cushions looked a little shabby after Tilly the springer spaniel had been lying on them, so luckily their friend, Ann Grafton, lent them some rather splendid Mulberry cushions

Some of Sarnia and Jeannie’s sofa cushions looked a little shabby after Tilly the springer spaniel had been lying on them, so luckily their friend, Ann Grafton, lent them some rather splendid Mulberry cushions

In the kitchen, a painted dresser and units display flowers from the garden

In the kitchen, a painted dresser and units display flowers from the garden

The kitchen units have been painted in the same duck-egg blue that Sarnia created by mixing two Fired Earth paints

The kitchen units have been painted in the same duck-egg blue that Sarnia created by mixing two Fired Earth paints

Sarnia’s grandmother, Dora’s, court fan is displayed in its own fan-shaped glass case above the stairs

Sarnia’s grandmother, Dora’s, court fan is displayed in its own fan-shaped glass case above the stairs

Sarnia’s bedroom is luxurious but shares the others’ sense of quiet restraint. The bed is dressed with layers of white linen and cotton

Sarnia’s bedroom is luxurious but shares the others’ sense of quiet restraint. The bed is dressed with layers of white linen and cotton

Above it, a simple coronet supports a cascade of white spotted voile, the edge of which has been deliberately left ragged

Above the bed, a simple coronet supports a cascade of white spotted voile, the edge of which has been deliberately left ragged

The guest bedroom is furnished with more of Dora’s furniture – a prettily carved wardrobe and chest of drawers

The guest bedroom is furnished with more of Dora’s furniture – a prettily carved wardrobe and chest of drawers

The cool Gustavian grey-blue - Farrow and Ball’s Light Blue - in which they have been painted makes the room feel much more spacious

The cool Gustavian grey-blue - Farrow and Ball’s Light Blue - in which guest room furniture has been painted makes the room feel much more spacious

Just off the kitchen one finds a conservatory that has been tented with blue and white striped Jane Churchill fabric

Just off the kitchen one finds a conservatory that has been tented with blue and white striped Jane Churchill fabric

Sarnia and Jeannie’s garden makes for a delightful setting for dining al fresco

Sarnia and Jeannie’s garden makes for a delightful setting for dining al fresco

“One of our Dutch friends had a very long drive to see us and when he finally got here and saw the garden he declared that he had arrived in ‘paradise’!”

“One of our Dutch friends had a very long drive to see us and when he finally got here and saw the garden he declared that he had arrived in ‘paradise’!”

Against a sheltering hedge, vegetable and soft fruit beds with runner and French beans, courgettes, garlic, lettuce, rocket and tomatoes, as well as standard gooseberries and raspberry canes, have been edged with a low border of box

Against a sheltering hedge, vegetable and soft fruit beds with runner and French beans, courgettes, garlic, lettuce, rocket and tomatoes, as well as standard gooseberries and raspberry canes, have been edged with a low border of box

In the shade of a spreading apple tree a deckchair and cane seat have been placed in a conversational group

In the shade of a spreading apple tree a deckchair and cane seat have been placed in a conversational group

A lavender-edged brick path leads the eye towards the unspoilt meadow beyond

A lavender-edged brick path leads the eye towards the unspoilt meadow beyond

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

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