This wonderfully cosy Welsh farmhouse seemed like the ideal choice for my last home tour of 2017. Available to rent for short breaks and holidays, it forms part of Fforest – a collection of teepees, bell tents, eco-domes and cabins hidden among wild meadows and ancient woodland, just a few miles from the coastal town of Cardigan. I was lucky enough to have a peek inside when I spent three nights at Fforest for the Sisterhood retreat earlier this year, and I can think of few better places to hole up for a relaxing winter escape.
When Fforest’s owners, former textile designer Sian Tucker and her partner James Lynch, took over the site, the 200-year-old house was an unloved, derelict shell that had lain abandoned for more than two decades. They put their heart and soul into restoring it to its former glory, salvaging worn staircases and lintels, repointing lime-plaster walls, and removing the thick layer of bat droppings which carpeted the floors. The results of their efforts are stunning: a mix of Scandinavian simplicity and rustic Welsh character, with pine-clad walls, swathes of exposed stone and window seats covered in snuggly sheepskins.
The heart of the house is the sociable kitchen, with its hand-built wooden dressers, slate floor, large farmhouse table surrounded by reclaimed pew chairs, and an inglenook fireplace that Sian describes as big enough ‘to herd sheep into’. To the other side of the staircase lies the living room, where a vintage Eames rocking chair faces a crackling wood-burner.
Upstairs are four double bedrooms, all decorated simply but beautifully, with low-slung beds, Anglepoise-style lamps and salvaged wooden chairs for bedside tables. One has a collection of old enamel jugs displayed on a shelf; another, a striking mid-century modern chair covered in burnt-orange fabric. There’s also a fun bunk room for children, with climb-into berths that give it the air of a ship’s cabin.
Much of the inspiration for the décor came from Sian and James’ own home, where they did trial runs of some of the designs before recreating them at Fforest. These include a chandelier made from twisted oak branches that takes centre stage above the dining table – an eye-catching, sculptural piece which contrasts with the minimalist cone-shaped pendant lights hanging elsewhere.
The traditional Welsh blankets and cushions are also bespoke designs. Sian had been collecting Welsh textiles from car-boot sales and markets for years, and eventually approached a local mill about creating a unique collection using an old peony motif. The resulting pieces are woven from pure wool on a vintage loom and come in a range of colours – forest green, berry red, slate grey – which stand out perfectly against the house’s wood panelling and stone walls.
To book a stay at the farmhouse, just visit Fforest’s website, where you can also buy textiles, oak chandeliers, enamelware and more for your own home.
All photography via Fforest