Thursday, February 16, 2017

Boho meets African-lodge/ski-chalet/cozy-English-farmhouse

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David Merewether photo

What happens when an interior designer who spent 13 years in South Africa buys an ancient, rambling farmhouse and hops farm? The result just has to be boho, and if that’s what you were thinking, you won’t be disappointed.


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David Anstiss photo

The rural Kent property that designer Alexis Wylie shares with her husband and three children in Sandhurst Cross, the weald (forest) region of the UK, includes a tile-hung and brick farmhouse known as Frog Pond Cottage (that’s a side view on the right), a three-kiln oast and bagging shed (center building with three conical towers), weather-boarded and tiled stables (left), and a variety of other outbuildings. It also came with two donkeys, Viking and Ping Pong, who still graze its meadows 13 years later.

But what’s an oast, you might ask? It’s a kiln used for drying hops. This area of the UK used to be a big brewing region, and the Wylie family farm still grows plenty of hops, though the oast has since been converted to a guest house.


We’ll start our tour in the main house.


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David Merewether photo

More than any other room in the cottage, the living room says boho to me. I love the daybed dressed as a sofa and all the African art and textiles Wylie brought back from her travels.


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David Merewether photo

Here’s a closer look at some of them.


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David Merewether photo

From the living room, you can peek into what the family calls the snug. "It used to be freezing in here, as it's got two outside walls," Wylie says. "So we battened out the room, added insulation, then lined it with scaffolding boards."


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David Merewether photo

The scaffold boards (don’t us Americans call that shiplap?) are the cozy ski-chalet part of the décor formula, and you’ll see plenty more of it, as well as timberframing, elsewhere. More colorful African art and textiles, as well as the huge green sofa, contribute to how this snug earned its name. 

My favorite thing? That red rotary-dial telephone.


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David Merewether photo

The dining room features an antique refectory table, surrounded by chairs, each of which is upholstered in an entirely different African fabric. Notice how Wylie has made the room cozy with dark gray walls and woodwork but lightened it up by painting the ceiling and its beams off-white.


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David Merewether photo

One end of the dining room doubles as a library and cozy reading spot. I love the matching rusted iron, man-shaped candleholders. 


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David Merewether photo

The children’s bedrooms are downstairs, as is this traditional country French guest room, swathed in blue Toile de Jouy. Wylie purchased the upholstered bed with the first money she earned from interior decoration.


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David Merewether photo

I love the vintage suitcases stacked beneath this side table, as well as the comfy pair of slippers just waiting for a guest’s use.


Main house, going up


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David Merewether photo

A classic part of Wealden buildings is the enormous chimney. This one, made of local brick and lime mortar, inserts itself into the master suite space, as well as the roof. Clinging to its side is the narrow wooden staircase that takes you there.


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David Merewether photo

Wylie utilizes the chimney upstairs as a display/storage wall for her collection of handbags.


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David Merewether photo

The master bedroom is itself tucked into the eaves. I love the subtle textile used to upholster the headboard, as well as the colorful patterned rugs layered over the sisal carpet.


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David Merewether photo

Antiques and period-style English pieces mix with ethnic textiles and modern pieces throughout the house. The result is collected and cozy. Or should I write as the English do—cosy. It's where the word cosseted—made comfortable, pampered—comes from, and it's easy to see why.


Nowhere is the blend more apparent than in the kitchen addition.


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The Rainbird Interior Design

Wow! I’d kill for that island and all that glorious light!


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The Rainbird Interior Design

Here’s a view of the kitchen from outside, on the patio. By the way, all the views here are just as terrific as the one on the left.


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David Merewether photos

Just out the kitchen door is an outbuilding Wylie has turned into her studio, where she meets with clients and stores samples, pattern books and other goodies. I’m a sucker for rusted iron art, and these two dancers on the windowsill have stolen my heart.


Welcome to the oastest-with-the-mostest.


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Bourne Farm

Converted oasts are commonplace in adjoining Kent and Sussex counties. The Wylie’s completed this conversion 12 years ago and rent the space out to guests. The space sleeps four and is accessed by an outside staircase, which leads to a deck. 

As you can see, all around are tranquil views of woodlands and meadows.


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David Merewether photo

Inside you’ll find an open-plan kitchen and living room. Notice the stenciled black numbers on the ceiling beams—a reminder of the oast’s former purpose. And if that’s not enough of a reminder, check out the hop gardens visible from most windows.


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Bourne Farm

The original honey-colored beams and wood-burning stove add additional coziness. And isn’t that more shiplap on these walls (or as the Brits say, scaffolding)?


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Bourne Farm

The kitchen area includes a butler sink, butcher’s block, country-style table and chairs, and cream-painted dresser chock full of blue and white willow-pattern crockery.


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Bourne Farm

I love that clerestory window. Behind this area are the three roundels of the oast, which Wylie has converted into two circular bedrooms, with the middle roundel being split into two curved-wall bathrooms. As you step down into each of the rooms, it’s easy to pretend you’re in a castle turret.


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David Merewether photo

In the main bedroom is a stately four-poster bed with canopy that belonged to Wylie’s parents. Note the stunning wire-work chandelier, which Wylie bought in Africa and now has made locally.


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David Merewether photo

Wylie commissioned the table-top lamps with bead and feather trim. I love how this vintage mirror reflects that unusual chandelier.


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Bourne Farm

The roundness of the walls is quite apparent in this view of the second bedroom.


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Bourne Farm

And don’t you love this sweet vintage bench? It looks as if it might have been a child’s bed. I love the mix of prints in the pillows, but my favorite is the oh-so-boho, oatmeal-colored one with the pompons, natch.


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Bourne Farm

The middle roundel is split into two spacious bathrooms—one with a deep soaking tub and great view, while the other is a wet room for those who prefer showers—which ends our tour. 


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Bourne Farm

But even the far-offs views of Bourne Farm, as the property is known, are picturesque. If you visit, you'll wave good-bye wanting to return.


Want more?


This is a front view of the main house, and the sidewalk is strewn with the African-cloth-upholstered chairs, which Wylie sells in her design business. 

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The Rainbird Interior Design

  • Continue your tour of this property and read the interview with owner and designer Alexis Wylie, “Wylde at Heart,” by Jennifer Stuart-Smith. 
  • Check out Wylie’s design portfolio, and schedule your very own color consultation at the oast guesthouse. 
  • Learn more about renting the oast guesthouse at Bourne Farm for your next vacation here. See more photos of the space here and here
  • Don’t miss a day of BoHo Home! Subscribe using one of the services as the bottom of this page, or follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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