The Otto House Thatched Cottage

Case Study - The Otto House

When Claybrook client Hannah and her family moved to their new home, they had something of a dream life in mind. The inside was to be a signature mix of vintage, new and upcycled projects. The large garden would be perfect for three young children providing fun alongside fresh air. In fact, their picture-perfect thatched cottage seemed to have everything, although they knew a budget had to be adhered to, so carefully planned the renovations. Except, the house had a few surprises up it’s pretty sleeve that they really could not have planned for.

Hannah chats to Creative Director Rob Whitaker about the house, the process of refurbishment and what it was that lurked in the upstairs bathroom which ended up going viral on social media.


When did you move in and what made you choose your cottage?

November 2020. We chose the cottage because of the space. It has a big garden with lots of outbuildings providing heaps of potential in the future. We host friends and family a lot and we love that it has lots of extra little rooms or nooks that can be turned into extra bedrooms if needed. It's a four bedroom house but we managed to host 21 people for a few nights in the summer. So fun! We also love the character that comes with a 400 year old cottage, although not all the bad DIY we've uncovered!

The Otto House

You’ve said there are sometimes regrets, why is that?

Although we've renovated two old houses prior to this one, they were a 1930’s semi and a Victorian terraced and relatively straight forward, so perhaps they didn't quite prepare us for the challenges we'd face while renovating a much larger and older property. We have had a lot of unexpected extra costs due to things breaking or leaking, and the last year has felt like we've been fighting fires non-stop rather than enjoying the space we have. We have three young children and the time involved in maintaining the house and progressing with the renovation takes it toil sometimes on family life. I know it will all be worth it in the end, and we're hoping for a much calmer 2024!

You went viral over finding a little surprise, or two, or three, in your bathroom. Tell us about that.

Our shower was leaking through to the room below due to gaps in the grout, so I removed the tile and the sheet of ply it had been tiled onto, only to find another shower hiding behind our actual shower! There was a gap of about 40cm’s with tile all around and the shower head and arm still in situ! We had no idea! When I started to remove the secret shower and tile I couldn't believe it but I found another 3rd layer of tile with a mirror attached. So, all together we had a mirror on tiles behind a shower on tiles, behind our actual shower and tiles. Our bathroom is now 40cm’s bigger all the way along one wall which has made a huge difference.

The Otto House

What was your vision for the bathroom refurbishment?

The bathroom is small with no window so that dictated a lot of my choices; I knew I could go for something bold as anything plain or too neutral would end up looking murky in here. It's also mostly used by our kids, so I wanted it to feel fun but timeless.

The Otto House Shower

Old Havana Jaruco and Fellini Bianco and Crema

What made you choose Claybrook?

In our last house we used some terracotta tiles from Claybrook for some fireplaces we renovated, and I absolutely loved them and was super impressed with the customer service we received.

The Otto House Old Havana Jaruco

Old Javana Jaruco

Which tiles did you go for and why?

I love the natural organic look of the Zellige-style Fellini tiles with their soft edges and varied finish; I wanted to use them in a fun way with the subtle stripe combining the Crema and Bianco colourways. I am always drawn to pops of colour, so I couldn't resist using the Fellini Rosa in the alcove; it adds a bit of pink to contrast with the green walls and floor tile. The Old Havana Jaruco tile on the floor is beautiful and creates a fantastic focal point in the room.

The Otto House Shower

What would you do differently with the bathroom if anything?

The green on the walls feels very vibrant for me; although it works well with the floor tile I do feel I would maybe prefer a dark green that’s more muted in tone. With the lighting and no window situation, I did find it uncharacteristically hard to find a paint colour I liked, so this was the third attempt! It's definitely the best of all the colours we've tried though, but maybe in a year or so I'll have another go at finding the perfect green. For now, we're just enjoying having it finished and we're loving the extra space and how much personality the room now has.

The Otto House Green Old Havana Jaruco

Check out The Otto House Blog or follow Hannah on Instagram.

Notes on products used to date: For the floor Hannah used Old Havana Jaruco encaustic tiles. The shower and other walls were tiled in our popular Fellini Bianco and Crema Gloss.