Wren Cottage

Single Storey Case Study

A small, but perfectly formed, woodland cabin brimming with unexpected delights.

A chance discussion with their neighbours led to our clients, two sisters, purchasing a large site in the New Forest that was occupied by an old post war cabin. Jumping at the rare chance to get on the property ladder in their local, but expensive, area the sisters approached Border Oak to work on designs for a replacement cottage.


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Wren Cottage

Unfortunately, the planning department were not willing to consider any increase in floor area, or additional height. Furthermore the officer decided that the original cabin was actually a 'holiday home' and that this occupancy restriction should remain - effectively preventing the sisters from making the area their home. To get around these obstacles Border Oak revised the initial design to reflect the restrictions but maximise any potential and ultimately secure approval.

The cabin might only be 46m2 (this is actually a 50% increase on the original floor area) but has been designed to feel much larger. The open plan sitting room and kitchen are vaulted with large windows on all sides - these design features provide unexpected volume, balance, architectural interest and natural light all day - all of which create a sense of space.

The ground floor bedroom is supplemented by a clever mezzanine bedroom over - reached by a space saving oak paddle ladder. This upper space is defined by a handcrafted oak balustrade screen overlooking the central double height space - so it is private, but not claustrophobic, and can 'borrow' from the adjacent spaces to feel larger.

An external inglenook fireplace (with Clearview woodburner) will heat the entire building using timber from the surrounding forest without encroaching onto the interior space, underfloor heating negates the requirement for space grabbing radiators. It is also possible to bake a potato and boil a kettle at the same time on the ingenious stove! 

Long sightlines have been created through the building which creates a sense of space and journey - giving views through the building but also out to the forest and to sky. Two oak gabled projections have been devised to jut out and house the kitchen units on one side and create a porch area on the other. These nooks have the benefit of housing all the essentials and providing an 'entrance' and storage, but they also add some spatial interest whilst leaving the main room space to work hard, look good and offer multipurpose 

Externally, the cottage is weatherboarded over a handmade brick plinth with handmade clay tiles on the roof. Sustainable, natural, low carbon, materials that reflect the local palette but also have weathered beautifully into the woodland setting.


Vaulted Ceilings, Mezzanine second bedroom, Open Plan Living.
Scopes of work
Border Oak Scope of works: 
, Planning
and Full Build
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The clients thoughts.......

“The house is beautiful and I think it is the very best we could have done to get the feeling of a proper home in such a small space. We love the Border Oak quality and the simplicity of their style - and the people there were lovely to deal with too.”