Readers’ Home Awards 2015 Holiday Home Project Winner

Alison started her search for a rural property project in Norfolk. ‘The idea was to have a country bolthole, within easy reach of the coast,’ she adds. ‘Somewhere to escape to with my labrador Flora, and that I could eventually turn into a holiday let.’

Property prices were on the rise, though, and Norfolk seaside homes were edging beyond Alison’s budget. A friend suggested she consider the largely undiscovered Lincolnshire coastline, around Anderby Creek, so she headed north.

Hill Farm Cottage, not far from Louth in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds, was the result: a two-bedroom, early-18th-century thatched house, with a pretty garden surrounded by gently undulating countryside, originally built as a farm tenant’s dwelling. The property had belonged to an antiques dealer and his wife, and when Alison viewed it, it was difficult to see round the heaps of antique furniture crammed into the tiny rooms.

Essential repairs

  • Although the cottage has undergone dramatic restoration due to a fire, this work was completed before Alison owned it
  • Alison’s changes were mainly cosmetic; a lick of paint, and some minor repairs
  • The yellow-brick Victorian addition to the cottage, which houses the downstairs bathroom and living room, took the brunt of the fire, and so Robert had new bricks made by the original brickyard, still in existence, to replace those damaged by the heat and smoke

Alison is currently renovating a Victorian house in Grantham, and comes up to Hill Farm Cottage at weekends ‘to enjoy a bit of luxury after all the dust on my building site during the week,’ she says. Alison lets the cottage for weekends and holidays.


The unusual ‘witch’s hat’ fireplace in the dining room is a real talking point with dinner guests. The table, from Silver Apple Furniture, is painted in Paris Grey by Annie Sloan to match the dining chairs, covered in a vintage chintz fabric by Jean Monro


Flora finds a cosy spot in front of the Rayburn. Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey also coats the larder cupboard from Notion Antiques


Tucked into a corner is a small cupboard that Alison painted in Moonstone Grey from Craig & Rose


Alison has painted a vintage butcher’s block, adding a decorative ribbon motif, all in Laura Ashley paints


Alison freshened up the downstairs bathroom with a lick of paint. The sanitaryware was fitted by the previous owners


She decorated the second bedroom with younger guests in mind. The bedside cabinet is from The White Robin, and the curtains and antique bedlinen are from Decorative Country Living

Get the look

Echo Alison’s timeless look with stylish buys fit for a period property

  • Mirror: Paris mirror, H32xW21cm, £149, Ayers & Graces
  • Throws: 100 per cent wool houndstooth throws, W140xL185cm, £79 each, Ville et Campagne
  • China: Emma Bridgewater blue hen cereal bowl, £19.95, Daisy Park
  • Bedside table: Aurelia one-drawer chest in Elephant’s Breath, H69xW45xD40cm, £275, from John Lewis
  • Cushion: Polly cotton cushion, £20, Aspace
  • Bird cage: Large aged bird cage, H92xDia.63cm, £275, Alexander & Pearl
  • Bedlinen: Eyes 100 per cent cotton bedspread, W250xL260cm, £59, Made
  • Bath: Excelsior acrylic double-ended bath with polished feet, H75.5xW76xL178cm, £1,464, BC Designs
  • Tile: Sol yellow kitchen wall tiles, W10xL10cm each, £37 per m², Creative Tiles & Laminates

What the judges said

Self-confessed interiors addict and Holiday Home Project winner, Alison Lewis has packed her bijou cottage in Lincolnshire with feminine style and pretty paint effects.

It was a particular favourite for homes editor Karen Darlow: ‘The cottage is really cosy and homely, while the shepherd’s hut in the garden is just dreamy,’ she says. ‘And Flora the dog was a star, totally playing up to the camera!’