Dream house: Smugglers Cottage, Herne

If you could live in your dream home, what would it look like? A castle? An ultra-modern eco home? A penthouse apartment overlooking Tower Bridge? Or any old thing as long as it costs under £250k.

In between browsing eBay for old paintings, reading bedframe reviews on Dreams and stalking people on Instagram, I spend my hours scrolling through property websites looking for an idyllic home. It needs to be pretty, not be a bedsit (or ‘studio flat’ as BS estate agents call them these days) and have room for bookshelves. Oh, and it shouldn’t cost more than a quarter of a million quid because when did we did decide that it was OK for one-beds to cost more than that?

My extensive research has shown that the above cannot be achieved within zones 1-3 of London, so the likelihood of me buying any of the homes featured on this blog is very slim. Unless Southern Rail starts moving or teleportation is invented.

This week’s dream home is in Herne, a village near the Kent coast.

Smugglers Cottage, Herne Village (Pic via Zoopla)
Smugglers Cottage, Herne Village (Pic via Zoopla)

Smugglers Cottage is a 16th century grade II listed cottage, with views of the village’s 14th century church. More importantly, it’s next door to the village pub, so you could probably move in there to cut down on your heating bills.

The living room (pic via Zoopla)
The living room (pic via Zoopla)

In this picture of the living room, we can review a few key points every dream house should have:

  • Fireplace for when the boiler inevitably breaks down one night in January
  • Natural light
  • Period features (to paint, or not to paint the beams, that is the question)
  • Wall big enough to hold a ginormous bookshelf (this is a deal breaker)

If I were to buy this house (when I win the premium bonds obvs), the first thing I would do is to change the staircase. I’m not sure who invented the open-tread staircase, but they would go in my Room 101. What we have here is a full-scale tripping hazard, with the double whammy of no banister to hold on to when you inevitably fall over. In fact the more I look at this picture, the more I wonder whether it’s high enough for you to fall to your death.

This room is apparently the ‘lounge/diner’ but I see no evidence of a dining area, so I’m guessing it’s a tray-on-lap situation. This will make hosting dinner parties a breeze as you will have a valid reason just to slop some chicken casserole and a bowl of ice cream in front of your guests, instead of going the whole hog on a three course extravaganza.

We move on to the kitchen.

The kitchen (pic via Zoopla)
The kitchen (pic via Zoopla)

Have you seen anything so cute in your life? Sure, I’m not entirely sure where the fridge is, and it doesn’t look like there’s room for the essential dishwasher, but the bespoke pine cupboards are just too good to argue with.

Can we also please take a minute to enjoy the use of fairylights in the kitchen here? Even if you had a generic plastic kitchen from B&Q, I think stringing up some of these would be a sweet addition. I also like the current owner’s use of rug here, but if I were to do the same, I fear the rug would soon be covered in potato peel, bread crumbs and soap suds.

Next up: the bedrooms.

According to the estate agent’s details, this is a two-bedroom property. This is true enough if the occupant of the second bedroom is under 4ft in height. Otherwise it would make a nice little library.

The spare room (pic via Zoopla)
The spare room (pic via Zoopla)

Also, what is in that cupboard? Is *this* where they kept the smuggled goods back in 1704? I might need to book a visit just to have a nose. In the name of investigative journalism, you understand.

The master bedroom (pic via Zoopla)
The master bedroom (pic via Zoopla)

There’s not much to say about the master bedroom is there? The property listing actually includes two pictures of the spare ‘bed’room, but only one of the master. Why is that, my inner Miss Marple asks.

Anyway, it looks like a fairly decent size (the wardrobes are large enough to feature on the property plan as a separate entity), but that red will have to go. It’s a nice colour for a feature wall, but in a bedroom, it would encourage dreams of bloodshed and fevers. Another excellent use of rug here.

The bathroom (pic via Zoopla)
The bathroom (pic via Zoopla)

I like this bathroom a lot. On a superficial level, I like the colour combo of the wood, the white and the blue. Then there is the space. For a small cottage, this a large bathroom, and it looks like you can even stand up in the shower without hitting your head on a low ceiling.

If I were to win the premium bonds for a second time (after moving in here), I might consider spending some of my prize money on updating the bathroom suite. The toilet, in particular, looks like a dust-magnet with its exposed pipes.

Finally we move onto the garden.

The courtyard (pic via Zoopla)
The courtyard (pic via Zoopla)

According to the property listing, this is a shared courtyard. Shared with WHOM? You might ask. If it’s the pub next door, then there might be a problem. Also the palm tree would have to go. What is this obsession with growing palm trees within 100 miles of the British coastline? They might look vaguely at home for the 3.5 days of the year the sun shines, but the rest of the time they look very miserable, and the spiky leaves are lethal.

For someone who likes the idea of gardening, but in reality can’t really be bothered and forgets to water the house plants that live right next to the sink, this courtyard looks ideal. You could grow herbs in the pots by the back door, have a pretty rose or clematis growing up the trellis and then, I dunno, chuck a load of spring bulbs in everywhere else. More importantly, you could buy a barbecue and some nice outdoor furniture, which would fit once you’ve removed the dreaded palm tree.

Some other important information

In summary

In a village by the sea, this is a characterful cottage within rolling distance of the nearest pub. Given its history, it’s also pretty likely that its former inhabitants buried treasure beneath the flagstones, so after some minor structural alterations (i.e. digging up the floor), you’ll probably see a very quick return on your £210k investment.

Minor issue: The cottage is 70 miles away from my office, so the commute would be unbearable.

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