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Un-country cottage furniture

What is it with British country rental cottages – and a near-universally bad choice when it comes to one particular piece of furniture? 

I'm trying to book a last minute rural escape for a few days. We're not too fussy about where – Wales, the Isle of Wight, Norfolk, the Lake District. Anywhere quiet that won't take a whole day to drive to, and doesn't mind the dog coming too.

Despite the dog, there are heaps of contenders. Or at least there are until you hit the slideshows. Enticed to "view full details" by a snap of an idyllic view or a chocolate box exterior – for example, this one above – we have been thwarted again and again by one hugely off-putting detail...

It's hard to believe that the two bottom images, above, belong to that dinky little thatched house with the appealingly tousled garden above, isn't it?

Cottage after cottage that we've looked at has been brutalised by the inclusion of a firm, modern black leather sofa. Is there a more incongruous furniture choice for a rural retreat? An interiors choice less likely to inspire you to fancy sitting down by the equally ubiquitous – but welcome – wood burning stove after a long country walk?

Yes, yes. A black leather sofa is practical. Wipe clean, no less (it's pretty much all you can think of looking at one). And dark colours are forgiving, leather hard-wearing when small children, drunk adults or hairy pets are around. But is this the only way? Besides, those pale carpets are hardly dirt-concealing – perhaps it's an aesthetic choice after all. But if you're going to do leather sofas in your holiday let, this is how to do it.

And let's not get started on the stark walls, the furniture placed so obsessively at the edges of the room to minimise cosiness and create that all important space in the middle (what could you use it for – perhaps to sit on so you were close enough to the TV to be able to see it?). And that tiny dining table in the top right photograph. It has all the charisma of an airport interrogation room at customs (I've seen them on TV). It's not about the place being super stylish, we all have different tastes after all. But this stark, cold decor is surely nobody's taste but the owners' – who don't have to live with it.

Or maybe we're the only ones prompted to click away at the sight of this piece of furniture?

Post by Kate


  1. Do you think they went for the basic 'Interiors by Argos' package? I hear you can fit out a whole two-bed cottage for £399. It's just a shame that they discontinued the Black Ash line from the 1980s!

    But seriously, there's no way anyone can conceivably think that any potential visitor attracted by the exterior shots is going to be convinced by such horrible, imagination-free internal decor. Such as waste!

  2. Completely agree with you about cottage interiors ! We stayed here a couple of weeks ago and it was most beautifully furnished.

  3. I've been lumbered with two big, square, black leather sofas in my beautiful new rented flat - such a shame and SUCH an eyesore! There must be a way to soften them and make them work with the rest of the room, but I haven't found it yet...

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