Following the sale of her property in Blaby with Zoe Wedgbury, we talk to owner Sara Stevens about why Swiss Cottage is so special.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born in Leicestershire and I have been running my business in Leicestershire now for 28 years. I’m a clinical hypnotherapist and psychologist, so I’ve got quite an unusual job, but a job I absolutely love. I’ve got a lot of links with the local community and the health service because I’ve been doing this for such a long time.
How long have you been at Swiss Cottage?
So I bought the house I think about 18 or 19 years ago, and it was derelict. We bought it and spent a lot of time refurbishing it, and it’s had extensive changes.
What changes have you made to your home?
The house has had a lot of work since we bought it, including a new roof, wiring, heating systems and bespoke windows. It’s been fully restored and painted outside. We also plastered throughout and did three new bathrooms, and did a large extension to the side. The office has also been built which is lovely – right by the road which is perfect. We also did the garden, hedges and gazebos.
What’s one of your favourite things about Swiss Cottage?
The house has always been the hub where the family met up, so we’re all going to miss that. We’ve had some amazing garden parties here including a ‘just because you can’ party in the summer after lockdown, with 30 of us here.
It’s such a lovely space for entertaining, whether it be in the summer when you’re out in the garden or in the winter. Christmases have always been here because there’s just so much room to cook and eat. The whole family will miss the house, because it’s been a hub for us all.
Can you tell us any history about Swiss Cottage?
It was built around 1810 and although I haven’t been able to find what it was, it would have been a beautiful little gem just sitting in the middle of a field. This side of Blaby and the roads were actually built around the house and the people who lived here before me had been here for around 50 or 60 years. I think when people get here, they seem to want to stay because it’s such a tranquil place.
It was definitely something unusual back then. It couldn’t have been anything like a worker’s cottage because of the style of the property. It could have been a place of worship, but I just can’t find it in any of the history books!
What is your interior style?
My interior style is very bright and minimal. Because of the style of the property, it’s got quite a decadent feel because the house can’t really take a lesser style than that because of the grandeur of some of the rooms. I’ve got some really nice mirrors and pictures. A lot of the artwork around the house we’ve collected while traveling around the world.
I’m quite eclectic and I’ve had a lot of the cupboards made by a guy who worked for a long time at DeVol. Our sofa was made by sofa.com.
For me, it’s less about brand and it’s more about blending things in and having that sort of multi textured style of living. So there’s a little bit of everything including some super expensive antiques to things bought from IKEA.
What do you like about the local area?
In a couple of minutes, you can be running down the canal. You can go all the way right into town going past Everards Meadow, and you can go the other way out towards Wistow, there’s lovely run paths and tracks around here. Our local park, Bouskell Park, is a beautiful park to go and wander around. There’s lots of lovely things around here. The parks and the walks are great. You’ve got the local pub, The Bakers Arms, which is supposedly one of the oldest pubs in the country. The food is stunning, a lovely and cute little pub – especially in the winter when they have all the log burners on.
Did you face any challenges whilst renovating the house?
Doing up a derelict, listed building in its own right is obviously quite a challenge. It’s one of those labours of love. When we bought it, I felt that the house had a lot of things that weren’t really suited to a listed building. There was a lot of MDF and a lot of features weren’t really in keeping with the style of the property.
So yes, there’s always a challenge trying to marry old with new trying to find the things that would sit well in a property like this, but I enjoyed the challenge – it’s been a lovely challenge.
What are your plans for the future?
Plans for the future include relocating my business, which is hopefully going to be in Enderby because I’m expanding my business.
I’m going to be downsizing and I think I’ll be doing another smaller property, doing it up and then having more of a lifestyle. There are so many options for me now which is really exciting.