As admirers of Justine Cook’s distinct brand of “detailed minimalism,” we were intrigued to learn of a new rental project from the creator of Harp Studio—the diminutive Mole Cottage, which has just started taking bookings for the summer season.

Photographs by Harry Crowder.

Above: The entryway to Justine Cook’s creative, characterful Mole Cottage. Cook uses her collection of natural ephemera, including Baobab seed pods, bleached berries, Sudanese ladder seed pods, and structural dried stems, as decor throughout the house.
The cottage is tucked away down a small lane in the Welsh border town of Presteigne, on the banks of the River Lugg. Cook describes it as “a tiny burrow, half submerged underground,&#8
Above: The cottage is tucked away down a small lane in the Welsh border town of Presteigne, on the banks of the River Lugg. Cook describes it as “a tiny burrow, half submerged underground,” hence the name, which references Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s tale, The Wind in the Willows.

This is the third rental created by Cook. (The popular Harp Cottage was sold via The Modern House last year and featured here in December.) “We bought Mole Cottage—which was very floral, very 1980s—in 2019, and work was due to start February 2020,” she recalls. “In February, we were flooded. It’s a medieval building, that has never flooded before in its known history. Then lockdown hit.”

Undeterred, Cook worked with the building, conjuring light, space, and atmosphere from its small, sunken footprint, which consists of just three rooms: a sitting room/bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. “Ultimately, the flooding worked in our favor,” says Cook, who was spurred on to flood-proof the entire cottage, refinish the walls with breathable lime plaster, and raise the floor in order to install underfloor heating and slate tiles throughout.

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Above: Cook’s Campaign Sofabed takes pride of place in the living/sleeping area. Inspired by campaign furniture (designed for travel), it is made to order in beech and covered in 100 percent linen in four colorways: Limewash, Pearl, Putty, and Dark Moss (and as a two-, three- or four seater).
Come evening, the sofa unfolds into a capacious bed. Tucked into the corner of the room is a vintage armchair reupholstered in bouclé by Lelievre.
Above: Come evening, the sofa unfolds into a capacious bed. Tucked into the corner of the room is a vintage armchair reupholstered in bouclé by Lelievre.
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Above: Harp Studio’s glossy black feather lampshades are made to order.
The slate-paved passageway to the main living area.
Above: The slate-paved passageway to the main living area.

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