Well known for enjoying a weekend trawl
of local antiques markets and favorite boutiques,
British Instagrammer Natalie Woods can often be seen piling new finds into her 53-year old Morris Minor car, aptly named Mrs. T. Pale blue, perfectly restored, and with an inherent ability to catch the eye, Mrs. T. has the same enviable qualities as Natalie’s home, which is attracting a growing audience via her Instagram feed. Laid Back Farmhouse started as a way of Natalie documenting her home renovation.
“Bizarrely the name for my IG feed is actually the opposite of what I am as an individual,” laughs Natalie. “With my work as a marketing consultant, life is pretty hectic, and our former home didn’t allow us the peace and quiet that we craved. My husband, Doug, and I both grew up in the countryside, and we wanted to recreate that relaxed, peaceful ambience.”
They found that peaceful setting in their Edwardian-era country home and barn in West Sussex, England. “Originally part of a working estate, the property had the potential to become our dream home,” Natalie says. “But converted 30 years ago, the space felt dated. A tired kitchen connected the main living areas via a 1970s-style pass-through window; and green carpets and bright orange linoleum dominated throughout. Working on a budget, we sketched ideas and worked with an architect and talented local tradesmen to inject more character back into the box-like interior.”
NEW LIFE WITH A NEW FLOOR PLAN
With the remodel, they were able to update two bedrooms and a bathroom, create a study area and lay reclaimed flooring throughout. They took down two walls in the kitchen to create a stylish open-plan ground floor. “We love entertaining, and opening the space up between the kitchen, living room and extension has made it a much more sociable house,” says Natalie.
Last summer the pièce de résistance was completed: the addition of a vaulted barn-style extension that leads from the back of the former kitchen and dining area. The extension, with a rustic wood-burning oven, wide reclaimed wooden floors and painted false beams, is small, but the lofty proportions create a spacious feel. “It suddenly feels as if we actually do live in a barn,” laughs Natalie.
Just as the extension has added a new dimension to the family home, it has also shaped a new direction for Natalie’s work, with her IG feed now also serving as a trigger for exciting interior projects in 2018.
The soothing and serene ambience she and Doug were after is undeniably present. Her restful neutral color palette has a lot to do with that. “My original style was much more white on white, with occasional splashes of bright florals and checks,” says Natalie. “It has evolved into a more natural aesthetic where texture and patina add the interest in place of color and pattern.”
Natalie draws inspiration from nature and decorates with found objects gathered from just outside her door. It’s not unusual to spot old branches and dried yarrow or baby’s breath in her seasonal rotation. These beautiful specimens not only add texture and dimension to her monochromatic color palette, they also add a graceful organic beauty to even the most modest vignettes.
AGED & LOVELY
Whitewashed and simple, Natalie’s fresh aesthetic is combined with battered surfaces, aged wood and an abundance of vintage treasures that add interest and intrigue. “Every piece has a story to tell,” smiles Natalie. “I am obsessed with brocantes, garage sales, local shops, and I travel widely, so my home is layered with one-off special pieces that have been added gradually.”
While her furnishings have an elegant French theme throughout the house, her accents and accessories are a mix of farmhouse antiques, European collectibles and the odd salvage piece reinvented for a new purpose, such as letter-press trays hung on the wall as display cases and old pages of a pressed flower book reimagined as wall art. “The apothecary cupboard in the master bedroom is one of my most treasured pieces,” says Natalie. “I instantly fell in love with its scale and proportions.”
An antique cupboard full of rustic stoneware kitchen and dining finds takes center stage in the open-plan living/dining area. “I am not precious—anything that comes into our home has to be both aesthetically pleasing and useful,” says Natalie.
|OPPOSITE| TWO CLASSICS. Natalie’s classic car, dubbed Mrs. T., takes pride of place in front of the house. Natalie and Doug gave the Edwardian-era country house a new coat of paint inspired by her beloved Morris Minor. UPCYCLED ART. Old pages from a vintage botanical book are hung in a grid in the living room for a look that is casual and natural. The white-painted Mora clock adds an air of classic elegance.
|ABOVE LEFT| UTILITARIAN REDUX. Old cheese molds have been refashioned into wall shelves that hold a few of Natalie’s flea-market trinkets.
AN ECLECTIC MIX. Despite being mostly neutral with the occasional pop of teal, the guest bedroom thrives on the depthof its patterns and textures. “We’re always mixing various fabrics that have different colors and different textures,”Wendy says. “Using knit and linen, for example, and then doing something that has embroidered brocade—that justmakes it kind of fun.” |ABOVE| UNPAINTED PERFECTION. Natalie stripped the paint from thissimple farmhouse hutch to let the blush-toned wood shine through. Itperfectly complements the pretty harbor painting on top and Natalie’s collection of farmhousestyle tableware.
SIGNATURE STORAGE. An old filing cabinet Natalie found at a local flea market is the hub of her creative office.
CURATED CORNER. This corner cupboard houses Natalie’sfiner antiques: old French tureens, stoneware crocks and pewter cake stands from theturn of the 20th century.