Hayley Southwood’s chic home acts as a canvas for her Scandi-style finds
Describing herself with a smile as an ‘accidental entrepreneur’, Hayley Southwood, founder of Scandinavian-influenced Southwood Stores and the Southwood Social Hub, is a busy woman. As such, she treats her house as her sanctuary – a calm space she feels protective towards.
“This is the first time I’ve invited a magazine in!” she admits, a little nervously. And it’s a privilege to visit. It comes as no surprise that the same impeccable curation of her Swanbourne-
based showroom is evident in her actual home, just up the road. Although she leans towards the monochromatic, keeping it clean and simple, there are fun, colourful personal touches, too.
Donna Wilson face-painted plates line the walls in the kitchen where traditional family portraits might go, for instance, and in the living room, a wooden monkey toy hangs from a shelf of prints. It’s instantly friendly and comfortable, much like a first meeting with Hayley.
Hayley lives with her husband Paul, an engineering manager, sons Callum, 20, and Jake, 18, and Sid the Schnauzer. They’ve been in this semi-detached house for 11 years.
“We rented a cottage in the same village before buying this place,” Hayley recalls, “and when we looked around it we were gripped by the potential.” They had the house gutted, “from electrics to ceilings,” and with a fresh lick of white paint, they moved in.
It was in the summer house in the garden that Southwood Stores started its physical life, where Hayley created a small showroom and then packed orders on her kitchen table. Online, it had been going for some time – Hayley was an early adopter of Instagram and prolific on Twitter, where she started creating the brand.
“I had nothing to lose,” she says of her business journey, which began when her mum died young from cancer. “My first solo venture was Mrs Scoops and her Vintage Ice Cream Van. I bought the van on eBay in a moment of madness, to escape my grief, and it gave me something to focus on.” Hayley did all her own marketing and was featured in over 100 magazines. “From that moment, I decided I would never be unhappy in my work or home again. It’s a cliché, but life really is too short.”
Southwood Stores itself was born when Hayley started using Instagram to share her
favourite interior finds, and people began asking if they could purchase them. So, everything you see there is something Hayley has genuinely fallen in love with herself.
Hayley’s festive style is the same as her usual style, with clutter kept to a minimum. Decorations go up 12 days before Christmas. As with most retail businesses, Christmas starts in the shop in October, so Hayley finds she’s less inclined to jump into it early at home. “My surroundings really a ect my mood, so it has to be simple without too many decorations.”
Natural elements form a big part of Hayley’s festive interiors. “At Christmas, it’s all about a real tree and greenery,” she explains. Cosy fires are a fixture too, with an open fireplace in the living room, a fire pit outside in the garden and plenty of candles positioned around the house. Christmas Day itself is traditional, with the extended family coming together for dinner at the table, lots of extra chairs, and all the trimmings. “I happily let Paul do all the cooking normally, but Christmas dinner is the one meal I love to cook,” says Hayley. “It’s just a big roast isn’t it? Nothing too fancy!”
And that’s a good summing up of Hayley’s approach to life: a jump-right-in celebration of the simple things. “I am passionate that we can all live as happy a life as we want to. It’s just giving ourselves the space to start.”
The gorgeous greenery was supplied and styled by florist and Southward Social Hub member Jemma Cox of Martin & Cox
01 Wilson, Plates Rob from Ryan Donna and Fine Little Day perch on the kitchen shelves. 02 These Skandinavisk candles, Origami Est decorations and sweet wooden Christmas trees are also sold in Hayley’s shop.
01 Hayley only ever wraps the Christmas presents with brown paper. 02 Pine cones and sprigs of fir replace twinkly tinsel for a more grown-up feel.