A Character Cottage with History

A well-travelled couple bring character and style to their West Oxford property.

Originally from Ireland Sarah Lidwell-Durnin and her American husband John moved to Oxford three years ago after living in both Marrakesh and Paris.

The couple spent many years before marrying travelling around the world, and this is reflected throughout their home “we are already planning our next escape!” Sarah laughs. Sarah, owner of online store Natural History (now sadly closed) and her husband John, owner of ’The Clinic’ design consultancy live with their children Beatrice and Donna.

Drawn to the stunning location of West Oxford and the great history of the area, the couple’s Victorian house was originally built by Christ Church college workers. Only a few of the original families are now left in the town and so it is very rare for original houses to be on the market.

Lucky for Sarah and John, the 3-bedroom period cottage was previously owned by “a couple with great taste, so there was not much work to be done” states Sarah. “When we moved in I was heavily pregnant, and one evening when John had gone out I found myself ripping out the bathroom floor under which I discovered wooden floorboards! John then later arrived to shout ‘what have you done!’. “Luckily we had a skip in the garden from carrying out a conversion in the attic for guests,” laughs Sarah.

“I painted everything myself in the house, I do get carried away with white paint as when we lived in Marrakesh our house was fresh and clean and I love the calmness that the colour brings,” explains Sarah. Stunning focal accessories such as the ‘Jielda’  lamps were brought from Paris and the rugs were bought in Marrakesh.

Flexible in her style Sarah is inspired by The Natural History museum back in her home town Dublin. She has fond childhood memories and the museum has coloured her design ideas. Sarah often takes a trip back to recharge her batteries.

Sarah now runs a Creative Consultancy at Sarah Lidwell-Durnin.

This feature originally appeared in issue 2 of Heart Home magazine in December 2011.

Photographs: Oliver Gordon.