Well known for en­joy­ing a week­end trawl

of lo­cal an­tiques mar­kets and fa­vorite bou­tiques,

Cottages & Bungalows - - Cottage Kitchens -

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.”


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.


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.

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