A Grade II-listed cottage in Oxfordshire transformed into a modern home with a living room, family room, kitchen/ breakfast room, dining room/conservatory, study, playroom, boot room and WC on the ground floor. Above is the master suite, four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The second-floor attic has a guest room, dressing room and mezzanine.
Florist Willow Crossley, her husband Charlie and their children relocated to the countryside nine years ago, after stints in the South of France then London, moving from an urban one-up-one-down to this labyrinthine space, which seems almost custom-built for small children to explore. With woodland a five-minute walk away and a nearby river to swim in, life in this little corner of the world is idyllic.
Since the publication of her fourth book The Wild Journal earlier this year, which explores the nurturing properties of nature, Willow has created a four-piece rug collection with designer Amy Kent, adorned with flowers from each season, reflecting her natural, local approach to floristry.
Her collaboration with wallpaper brand Barneby Gates will launch next spring with floral, whimsical designs with which Willow plans to cover the attic bedroom. But her biggest focus is her online floristry course with teaching platform Create Academy. For the Christmas modules, expect lessons on wreaths, garlands, table centres and decorations in Willow’s typical laid-back, effortlessly chic style.
As you’d expect, greenery pervades every room. For Christmas, this means plumes of dried hydrangeas, snowy paperwhites and lashings of eucalyptus at every turn. ‘Eucalyptus just smells so delicious,’ Willow says. ‘I love having that scent around at this time of year. It really takes me back to the Christmases of my childhood.’
The feel of the house is one of intimacy and character. Alongside the flora, natural materials, antique furniture and vintage fabrics define the space, creating an air of informality – this isn’t a house that minds if you spill something.
While Willow spends the festive season creating immaculate arrangements for clients, at home it’s a very different story. ‘I used to try to make it perfect, but I’ve had to relax and let the children get involved,’ she grins. ‘So we cover the tree in decorations the boys have made, and then our youngest will come along and put seven baubles on one branch so it topples over – but for us, that’s just part of the joy of Christmas.’
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Willow and Charlie’s room was created by interior designer Octavia Dickinson in a joyous mix of fabrics.
The walls were hand-painted by artist Fifi McAlpine. ‘I find myself staring at the beauty of it,’ says Willow. ‘It’s like being in a meadow.’
Ancient beams frame the guest room tucked into a nook. The upper floors are carpeted in natural seagrass – another way Willow likes to bring the outdoors in.
Find Willow’s floristry course at createacademy.com/willow-crossley and more about her at willowcrossley.com
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Amy Moorea Wong is a freelance interior design journalist with a decade of experience in contemporary print and digital editorial, previously News Editor at Livingetc. She writes on a broad range of modern design topics from news and interior zeitgeist to houses, architecture, travel and wider culture. She has a penchant for natural materials, surprising pops of colour and pattern and design with an eco edge.
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