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Rebecca @ My English Country Cottage

Rebecca is the woman behind the lens of the hugely popular Instagram account @MyEnglishCountryCottage. A constant source of inspiration in the world of the country lifestyle and cottagecore, she recently featured in The English Home Magazine. We sat down to #HaveASeatWith Rebecca for a 10 minute chat to and spoke all things country and her work as an Assistant Stylist.

Lovely to chat with you Rebecca - thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us! We, like many others, take a lot of inspiration (and house-envy) from your Instagram account- can you talk us through how your Instagram came to be?

Aw thank you so much! How lovely! I took to Instagram just under three years ago when I broke my heel and was stuck at home for weeks and weeks. I had heard about this modern app and thought I would investigate. Naturally I was hooked immediately - following all the amazing interior accounts whose books and magazines I have treasured over the years. I was very excited and started posting pictures of our cottage. I knew that I wanted to work in some way in interiors and was aware that the children were growing up quickly. I didn't want to wake up one morning to find that they had flown the nest and I had nothing to do! I didn't expect it to be so successful so quickly so things have happened very organically for me. 

There’s something so whimsical and delightful about your feed, it seems a real break from the modern hustle and bustle of life and takes you away to your wonderful corner. Do you feel that when you write?

What a lovely question! It is my break away from the world actually! Time to myself to enjoy this beautiful, crumbly old cottage surrounded by magical landscapes. I love reading and writing and have been surprised that my writing has crept out of hibernation (I was an actress and writer many years ago but spectacularly unsuccessful).

Tell us about a typical working day for you.

Children to school, run or yoga (too many mince pies), reply to Instagram comments. Sit down at laptop and respond to work emails (interior design projects/ Instagram collaborations/ blog posts and magazine shoot prep), yell at my husband who dares to commute from our converted stable block for a coffee at 11 that I don’t have time for a coffee, then sit and have a lovely chat and a coffee with my very understanding husband. More work then create the next instagram post. Collect children/ drive them to various clubs. Return home, catch up with lovely instagram people whilst cooking supper then agree to watch some television, fall asleep, skulk upstairs to read instead.

"In lockdown as I think so many people looked to old ways and rural living for an escape from the situation."

It’s the end of a long working day and it’s home time. How do you switch off?

Reading is my passion. I love books, I love all sorts of books and I love being surrounded by books! I love reading, it is one of my favourite things to do, I generally have several books on the go: easy read, beautifully written read (takes time to absorb the words), an interiors book, a gardening book and an autobiography. I also enjoy yoga, pilates and running as well as baking (hence the need for exercise!). I am lucky enough to be part of a village Shakespeare reading group that amazingly counts three professional actors and the ex -principle of Rada as members so once a month I head out to another old timber framed property and read words that were written at the same time as some of our houses were built - it is incredibly special and cures me of any lingering desire to perform!

Let’s talk cottagecore. For the uninitiated… what exactly is it and has it become so big recently.

Good question! Initially it was a love and passion for the countryside and old homes. It went crazy in lockdown as I think so many people looked to old ways and rural living for an escape from the situation. There has always been a community who simply love old cottages, we are a romantic bunch who love florals, fires, candles and a sense of history.

Do you think the whole idea of it is exclusive to the countryside? Can it work in cities?

Crikey! Actually I think it can work in the city. If we can decorate country residences like London mansions then why not? It is the principle rather than the situation. Obviously Cottagecore has grown and now includes lots of beautiful lithe young things wafting through wheatfields which would look a little out of place in Shepherds Bush but the basis stands firm. There are a myriad of gorgeous little cottages and Victorian terraces tucked away that look perfectly at home with floral curtains, wicker baskets and whimsical accessories.

Your cottage seems to combine elements of traditionalism with modern finishes; where do you draw your interior design inspiration from? 

I love old houses so was always going to decorate in a traditional style.I love English Country Estates with houses filled with chintz and bright young things, I love crumbly old cottages that would have been filled with animals all keeping warm by the fire but I couldn’t live like that (although our cottage is often filled with unwanted mice, spiders and even next door’s dog pops in every so often!). I wanted to keep the heritage of our home but live in modern day.

It’s all very well making decisions for yourself but to have to decide for someone else and hope that they like is utterly petrifying.

OK, new cottage - blank canvas. Give us your top three household accessories that make a country cottage. 

Cushions! Always Cushions, as many as possible.

Blankets - old cottage are always draughty and they add colour and texture.

Flowers - flowers in the summer and foliage in the winter - it brings the beautiful world outside your window into the room, grounds it and makes it look beautiful!

Your garden is just gorgeous. How important has outdoor space been in the last 18 months for you? Particularly in light of the pandemic where our homes have really become a sanctuary.

Thank you! We counted our blessings every day. Our cottage always feels smaller in the winter, in summer all the doors are open to the garden and suddenly our home doubles in size. From the beginning of the pandemic when we were outside nearly all the time playing croquet, cricket, den building, fighting over your gorgeous swing to half way through when we had really begun to think how we could use our garden, grow more veg, use more fruit from all the trees, how to create a composter and how to ensure lots of the garden is left for the wildlife to more recent times when we all had Covid and spent 10 days unable to leave the home at all. Thank goodness for our wide open space that calmed and nurtured.

You clearly have a love for the outdoors - we spy many a beautiful photo on your feed. Where do you go for garden inspiration? 

Weirdly I love formal gardens, I adore old school garden designers like Gertrude Jekyll and Capability Brown, I fell madly in love with books on Sissinghurst but actually prefer a wilder feel to my garden. I like the feeling of freedom and nature. I love Arthur Parkison and Sarah Raven and am rather partial to Monty. I really enjoy looking round National Trust properties and gardens and draw a lot of inspiration from these places.

Perfectly manicured lawn or a wildflower meadow?

The Latter every time. Although I want to say perfect lawn!!!!

You are the proud owner of a Sitting Spiritually rope swing, which we love! Be honest, who uses it more - you or the kids?

It is a bit of a battle so I tend to use it when they are at school!!! Often I will be photographing outside and then allow myself a few minutes of relaxation. There is something incredibly magical about swinging really high - it takes you back through the years and allows you to just experience the thrill and simplicity of a childlike state. Thank goodness the swing is large enough for two - in the summer after school, the children grab ice lollies and head outside to the swing, sitting side by side as they unwind from the day.

Describe your life in no more than seven words.

What? Oh no - that’s one used already…

Ok: A cottage existence filled with amazing people.

Thanks Rebecca, brilliant to chat. We'd love to speak again sooN!

Have a look around My English Country Cottage

The Sitting Spiritually 'Have a Seat With' series takes a look behind the scenes at how we switch off from the bustling modern-day lifestyle. We speak to people of all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles around the country as we seek to explore the different ways of relaxing and just taking a moment.

Posted by Alex Rowe on December 9th 2021

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