October 12, 2012 in inspiring places
Last weekend we escaped London along with my brother’s family and my parents, to Sussex to celebrate my father’s big birthday. There were ten of us in all and trying to find a suitable holiday house for a few nights had been hard. After several days searching we came across Hawthbush Farm and one of their converted barns – The Cowshed. It looked perfect so we booked it. It had the right number of rooms, a large living area and kitchen, decorated in a style that would appeal to the grown-ups and lots of land, farm animals and woods for the children (big and little) to explore. We picked the children up from school and headed through the Friday evening traffic to our destination. And it didn’t disappoint.
The style of the barn really appealed to me, the sludgy colours, the exposed beams, the lighting, paintings and vintage finds, all making it feel like a home from home. The large kitchen with huge old table surrounded by school chairs was perfect for long family meals and lots of chatting. The decor had wonderful touches like these doors and cupboards made from reclaimed wooden planks left in the original state, and wooden beams stripped back to reveal their history and character.
Simple utilitarian lighting feature throughout, with exposed bulbs hanging from red cord, draped and wrapped around the barn’s old beams. The owners, Toby and Lisa, have renovated and decorated in an eco-friendly way with organic linens too, fitting in with the working organic farm that they are sited in.
Mr P, the very friendly and rather enormous and fluffy farm cat, was a welcome addition and the children just adored him.
The views through all the windows were picture perfect and it was a pleasure watching the sheep grazing in the field behind us. It was a little grey and drizzly when we arrived but the weather turned the next morning and was glorious for an early October break. Perfect for exploring the woods and disovering all kinds of mushrooms, toadstools and other types of fungus and berries. Wild plants and flowers silhouetted against the evening sky and a rich warm glow from low autumn sun.
Apart from the other converted barns and the owners’ amazing farmhouse you couldn’t see any next door neighbours (apart from the sheep, cows and chickens) in any direction, just fields and woods. It was such a change from our usual urban weekend in the city. There was even an outdoor wooden hot tub, steaming away overlooking a field of sheep which was a lovely touch. If glamping is your thing there are also old shepherd huts and a 1950s caravan in fields nearby, with interiors decorated in a similar style. You can also camp, have an event or wedding here and there is studio space that can be rented for day courses and retreats. Something for everyone.
We really did have a lovely weekend here, with a couple of trips to the seaside at Hastings and Rye too which are both close by. We all enjoyed the peace and complete change of scenery and the children were happy splashing in muddy puddles and exploring the countryside. Real family fun.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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