A Modern Country Home

When we announced we were moving to the countryside we had mixed responses. Some people thought it was incredibly romantic, others nodded along that it was the perfect choice for us, and a few people thought we were nuts. I kind of understand those who thought we were making a bad decision: I still work part-time in Manchester, most of our friends live in the city, and we both have active social lives. We still like to go to gigs, meet our friends in bars and enjoy all the conveniences of living in a city. So why would we move to the countryside? And are we missing city life?

I think there’s a common misconception that you either live in a bustling city, in the dull cookie-cutter suburbs, or in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the wilderness. What people seem to forget is that there are so many in between places, offering a little bit of everything. It’s not as clean cut as ‘city or country’, you can have the best of both.

We now live in Todmorden, a small town that sits on the border of West Yorkshire and Lancashire. It takes less than 30 minutes on the train into Manchester and under an hour to Leeds (the station is a four minute walk from my house, which really helps!) The bohemian town of Hebden Bridge is a five minute train ride away; Halifax just beyond. I don’t miss the city life, because it’s not that far away.

Todmorden is a town, but it feels more like a village. My house is tucked away on a hill, accessible via a winding country lane. When I walk home from the pub, I have to take a torch so I can see where I’m going. The windows at the front of our house look out over the hills on the other side of the valley. At the back of our house, the woods loom, and deer sometimes come to the fence. Within a couple of minutes of walking out of my front door I can be in the middle of the woods, walking up a steep country lane or in the middle of a field with my dog running around.

We kind of have the best of both worlds. We’re surrounded by nature, so close to the wilderness that we can reach out and touch it. Yet, the community here is open, friendly and creative, and it often feels more like we’re living in a bohemian neighbourhood in a busy city. There is an amazing local pub that hosts live music that rivals Manchester’s gig scene, a Latin-American street food restaurant about to open, one of the best vintage stores I’ve shopped at in a long time, and a community filled with interesting people who paint, make music, throw pots, write and much more. And we can hop on a train and return to Manchester whenever we want.

Our house itself reflects its surroundings, fusing contemporary elements with country living. We’ve left the windows bare (for now) to welcome in the views, we’ve mirrored the outdoors by placing plants in every corner, and the wood burning stove is the heart of our home. Yet, we favour Mid-Century Modern and Scandinavian design, and the furniture and styling in our house reflects this. Our house is a far cry from a country cottage - it’s bright and spacious and flooded with light. It’s somewhere between the Modernist dream house I’d always wanted and a rural country retreat.

I work in interiors, and I’m quite fussy about furniture and accessories. I know what I like, and I’d rather spend a little more money to invest in items that will last a long time. I’ve just purchased my first String shelf to liven up our dining room walls, and I’ve invested in furniture from the likes of Rose & Grey and Made over the past year. Most of our other large pieces of furniture are original Mid-Century items picked up online or at antique shops. I like to buy ornaments such as ceramic vases from independent shops or local makers, and we’re slowly gathering a collection of Dave (my boyfriend’s) woodwork around the house. Every room is filled with plants and I’m slowly adding vases of grasses to introduce more texture.

I had a discussion the other day about how we tend to dress like our houses. This is definitely the case for me! Simple silhouettes, handmade artisan pieces, natural fabrics/textures and a very distinct colour palette: black, white, grey, rust/tan and green. A friend pointed out that my hair is even the same colour as our Mid-Century teak pieces of furniture! I don’t think that I dress like I live in the countryside; likewise our house isn’t your typical country cottage. It’s possible to live in the countryside, surrounded by nature, in a contemporary house, filled with light: a modern country home.