Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Life on the Farm: The Selby comes to visit

I am a huge fan of all that Todd Selby does - his photographs, his watercolors, his sense of design, the people and places he is attracted to, and his so-goofy-it's-cool personality. He is creative and talented, and his style - as well as that of the people he photographs - is highly personal. A few years ago, after religiously reading his blog and combing every page of his first book, I found an excuse to cold call Todd. I was speaking to a book agent that had represented him, and I was hoping he would give me advice about the direction I should take in finding a new agent for myself. And he did - his business perspective was surprising, yet spot on. But what I was really hoping when I called him was that we'd chat on the phone and become friends. Which is exactly what has happened. Towards the end of our long phone call, he said. "Hey, what's your house like?" I told him that I was moving to England and that I would send him some photos. Six months later, in July of 2012, a month after we had settled into our cottage, Todd was here on the farm paying us a visit. The Guardian had hired Todd to shoot a dozen houses in England that would run periodically in their Sunday magazine. So here Todd was, running around the farm with a camera taking pictures of the barns, the garden, the treehouse, the cottage, the kids, us and all the animals. I was fascinated to watch him work. As a lover of photography myself I was amazed to see how differently from me he shoots things. He is spontaneous, quick, unselfconscious with his camera whereas I am always looking for the right angle and calculating in my composition. We have since kept in touch, calling each other occasionally for ideas or advice, and I am so glad to have such an inspiring new friend.

Of all the photo shoots I have done in my life, the ones Todd took here feel the most like the real me. There is nothing that makes me happier or more relaxed than being at home, in my own clothes, with no hair and makeup, having fun with my husband and kids. Isn't feeling like yourself what personal style is all about?


The kitchen is where I spend the bulk of my time at home. Even when I am not cooking, I am often on my computer at the kitchen table. What I love most about my kitchen is the view of the garden from those huge arched windows. It makes doing dishes so much easier!
Happy Gingy girl in her favourite chair. 
We are always so grateful to have the chance to eat outside in England. We can go a whole month in the summer without having the chance, but this year we were lucky to have many, many meals in the garden, even a few in October.
Coco has long grown out of Sailor, but he will always be among her favourites. Sailor taught Coco how to jump and twice won "most willing pony" when she took him to Pony Club camp. He's a legend in this part of the countryside.
What I most love about our cottage are the layers of history. Christopher first converted it from a cart shed into a house 25 years ago, but many family members and friends have lived here over the years and each have contributed to it's style. This rug is a good example. I have no idea where it came from, but I found it folded up in a closet and I liked it, so I put it in the guest bathroom where it now resides. 
The pillars represent the old entrance to the farm, just up the hill from our cottage. This is Ginger's favourite place to walk, especially in the evening when the sun is going down. 
Our kooky family portrait. Yes those are Zach's legs sticking up in the air. 
Probably my highlight of Todd's visit was when Zach rode the pig. If you read my blog regularly, you must know by now that pig riding is Zach's party trick. But Todd's reaction was priceless - he roared with laughter. 
In the tack room we hang Coco and Zach's rosettes. But we've also hung Snowflake's. Snowflake was a promising racehorse that my mother-in-law owned, but she got a bad infection and had to be put down much too early. Coco was a baby when Snowflake was around, but she still remembers her so we leave the rosettes there to honour her memory.
Zach heading up to the treehouse.

Todd's portraits of Zach, me and Coco. 
Christopher loves to collect things. Tucked away in long-abandoned barns he's got way too many old motorcycles, reclaimed window frames and vintage radios. They just sit there, but he likes to know they're there.
We have since transformed the treehouse into an art studio, but I suspect Zach misses the days of the vintage Star Wars curtain-turned-tablecloth.
My bedroom. At times I have been tempted to change the 80's Laura Ashley wallpaper, but now I'm so glad I didn't.
We have a giant barn next to the cottage that we have been talking about converting for as long as I have known Christopher. We thought that would be our obvious project while living here. But at the moment, we are both really happy living simply on a smaller scale. Maybe one day we'll get to it.
Since these photos were taken over a year ago, so much has changed. Our sitting room has been completely rearranged and recovered, but the gist of it is here. We built the bookshelves using wood recovered from the Swansea Pier, and the portraits of the kids on the mantel were a wedding present from my close friend Anh Duong.
Seeing this picture of Coco's room makes me so nostalgic. She grew out of these beds a while ago, and now she has just a twin bed that's twice the size. It's still lovely, but those beds were so precious.
Christopher and I drink way too much coffee, so this tin is well loved and worn. And I love using quail's eggs in salads when I can get them. 

19 comments:

  1. I love reading your blog.....

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  2. So wonderful to see your home. I am an hour south of you near Windsor and love the relaxed English aesthetic. I also like your American in London point of view (as I am one too).

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  3. I like how you respected the history and layers of your home. We had a realtor into ours recently and she poo-pooed our kitchen, with our original farmhouse sink and 1910s cabinetry, still gorgeous with original hardware: people want granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, she said! Today I've appreciated your home and mine :). Thanks, as always, for sharing.

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  4. I love your blog so much! It's such a relaxing, beautiful read after a long, jostling (albeit productive) day at work. :)

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  5. Those photos are lovely, as you say nothing says 'this is who I am' as those in your home with the ones you love. The photo of Zach pig riding is one for the 18 th birthday!

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  6. I adore the Laura Ashley wallpaper and that Coco's wallpaper matches her curtains. Nothing says "English rose" more than a perfect floral print. Great images! I didn't realize you had been featured on The Selby - how fun!

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  7. I absolutely love this post.

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  8. Thanks for sharing, looks lovely! Caroline

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  9. I am completely enchanted. What a charming home and love the images of the family. Thrilled to be your newest follower!

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  10. Thanks for posting this! I really appreciate it.. maybe we could follow each other on Bloglovin and/or GFC, Facebook?

    Please leave me a comment on my blog and follow by blog!

    http://kstylick.blogspot.com

    You can also like my Facebook page.

    https://www.facebook.com/Kstylick

    I will follow you back! :)

    Korean Fashion

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  11. Your home looks so beautiful and truly relaxing - full of children, easy beauty and life.

    http://maybetodayistheday1.blogspot.com/

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  12. I love your blog so much and I hope that maybe we could follow each other on Bloglovin and/or GFC, Facebook?

    Please leave me a comment on my blog and follow by blog!

    http://kstylick.blogspot.com

    You can also like my Facebook page.

    https://www.facebook.com/Kstylick

    I will follow you back! :)

    Korean Fashion

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  13. we moved to a tiny cottage on the edge of the Cotswolds, it is very chintzy, but I came to love the florals. Then we visited Daylesford for lunch last week and I am pondering a revamp.

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  14. We live in London and my elder stepson spent a week on a Cotswold farm last year. He came back head over heels in love with pigs and his dream is to ride one - I've just shown him the photo of Zack and he's sick with envy.

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  15. I hope you start blogging again soon!

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  16. Wonderful images and happy faces! I LOVE the vest you are wearing in the shots in the Selby - what is it?????

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