Water-Damaged Flooring Made for Chic Ceiling Panels in This Rental’s Bathroom
In a bedroom, the fifth wall is rush matting.
Published Feb 6, 2023 1:30 AM
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What do you get when a carpenter and an entrepreneur with a passion for interior design get their hands on some woodland? The answer is a treehouse unlike any other. The charming vacation rental, dubbed The Quist, sits on an 800-acre property in Herefordshire, England. “We are so lucky to have access to this land, and realized it could be a great small business for us,” says Harriet Churchward, whose parents run a hugely popular wedding venue on the estate.
Her husband, Matt Pescod, who used to work in the music industry, had long dreamed of building a treehouse. After a year of planning, he undertook the yearlong build of the property, occasionally calling on subcontractors for a hand with things like plumbing and electrical. Outside, there are no neighbors but rather a wood-fired hot tub and an outdoor shower, while the interior is filled with details guests rush to replicate at home (yes, we’re talking about those plaid sink skirts). “The biggest challenge was the mental shift of knowing that as soon as we pressed go, there was no stopping; we were going to have to build this 960-square-feet structure 1,000 feet up a hill,” says Pescod.
Muddling along through sleep deprivation (owing to the arrival of the couple’s daughter, Minnie, now 3), Pescod used a beam trolley to get the timber up to the site and a concrete-free system for the foundation. (The rush of satisfaction he felt once the skeleton of the stilted structure was in place is one he’ll never forget.) Churchward then got to work curating a cozy vibe that would be appealing to staycationers looking to escape cities and crowded suburbs for a long weekend. Here are four ideas we’re stealing for our own spaces (even if they’re of the brick-and-mortar variety).
“So many cabins have a very woody look inside because they are exclusively made by carpenters,” muses Churchward, “but I wanted [ours] to feel very luxurious and textured.” So she focused on softening things up with fabric. The kitchen’s base skirts provide a nice visual break from the wood-paneled walls and ceramic sink with the bonus of being easy to wash, while the linen curtain in the bathroom can be drawn to create privacy between the toilet and tub and vanity. Up in the primary bedroom, a washable carpet that only looks like sisal is hard-wearing and feels pleasant underfoot. The couple chose surprisingly neutral denim for the twin bed headboards and embellished it with white cotton piping.
If in Doubt of Doors, Drape It
Churchward put comfort and beauty over “hard-core practicality,” so when it came to personalizing the primary bedroom, which is accessed via a ladder staircase, she was excited to get Sophie Rowell of interior design practice Côte de Folk involved with planning the space. “With a holiday rental, you want to give people a sense of escape and something special to dive into,” notes Churchward. During their remote consultation, Rowell came up with the idea of closing the space off with patchwork drapes, lending a tentlike feel. The key to getting it right? “A patient seamstress and being good at math!” says Churchward with a laugh.
The fifth wall is often overlooked in many rooms, but for Churchward it was an opportunity to load up on even more texture. Drawing inspiration from Japanese design, the ceiling in the main bathroom is made out of water-damaged oak flooring from one of the wedding barns. In the smaller bedroom, the surface is swathed in handwoven rush matting, an idea of Churchward’s, sourced by Rowell.
Let the Environment Lead the Way
The couple opted for a chunky stone bathtub because a white ceramic one would have felt too out of place in a forest. The plan was to have the shower in the same space, but at the last minute, Churchward moved it to the external wall. “There’s nothing like taking a hot shower outside,” she says, “and as it’s a treehouse in the middle of nowhere, people push their comfort zones a little bit.” Going with green zellige tile was a style-driven choice (it echoes the lush landscape), while opting for an unlacquered brass showerhead and taps was a practical must: “I do not want to be polishing metal all the time! It’s aging beautifully.”