At Home With Karen @karen.anderson.mcconnell
This week I'm at home with Karen, the lovely lady behind the popular instagram account @karen.anderson.mcconnell where she shares stunning images of her beautiful equestrian home in the Scottish countryside. Read on to learn more about Karen, her home, lifestyle, family and her top tip for home decor.
Tell us about you
Hi, I’m Karen! I’m a busy working mum of two and our home, Fossoway Stables, is a 3 bedroom bungalow set within 75 acres of beautiful Perthshire countryside. We are incredibly lucky to have a purpose-built stable block right next to the house, lots of paddocks, an arena, parkland, woodland, burns and a pond. On-site, we run a dressage training and livery yard (KAEquestrian), a holiday rental (The Lodge at Fossoway Stables) and an outdoor children’s nursery (FossoPLAY). Mum and Dad have a house here on site too so it’s a full on family affair! As if that doesn’t keep us all busy, we have more developments in the works. It’s a lot of work but I still have to pinch myself that I get to call this place home.
Tell us about your home
Our home and stable block was built in 2008. The house itself is a fairly basic design but it has everything we need and it really is the setting (and the equestrian facilities) that sold it to us.
How would you describe your home?
My home style is always evolving but I’d say it’s a contemporary country look. I love the simplicity and classic look of brands like Neptune, the glamour of Ralph Lauren and, more recently, finding antique treasures to add to the mix. So my home is just that, a mix, but it reflects all the things I love about country living.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Hmm, this is tricky because it’s all still very much a work in progress and there is still so much I still want to change. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and the adjacent laundry room and I do like the light in there and the fact that it’s the hub of the house.
There’s always a lot of traffic in there and I like that friends can drop in, pull up a bar stool and have a cuppa and a chat while I’m busying away on one of the million tasks I have to do that day.
I like to have home baking in the cake stand, a pot of soup on the hob and/or something roasting in the oven. That space feels homely, relaxed and (hopefully!) welcoming.
How does your home reflect any passions or interests?
I don’t think you could deny my love of horses in the house! From the artwork to the textiles that have been chosen to the design features in various decorative items and hardware, there’s a nod to equestrianism in so much of it. It’s certainly not horsey-themed or a shrine in any way, but the beautiful snaffle print cushions from Adamsbro are a great example of how that passion creeps into my home style.
What are your favourite items in the home?
Well, as wonderful as it is rare when the house is empty, clean and tidy, I’m only really content when the kids are at home and filling the space with their creative, curious and silly energy ... but they’re not really an item are they? Hmm, I’m not hugely sentimental or place too much value on material things so, though there are pieces of furniture or decorative pieces that I love to look at, the things I like the most are the things that tell a story about who we are. A collection of well-read and well-loved books, photographs of happy times with friends and family, a vase with cuttings of flowers that we’ve grown in the garden, the basket of eggs our hens have laid, a big stone one of the kids picked up on a walk and carried all the way home, these are my favourite and most meaningful items in my home.
When you moved into your house was it the finished article or was it a project?
When we bought the place in 2011 it was only 3 years old and it had been freshly painted in basic magnolia for us moving in so we were absolutely able to just move straight in without any work needed. It did feel a little soul-less however so we set to work re-decorating and 10 years later we’re still upgrading and redecorating, it’s one of those jobs that never ends isn’t it?
What renovation and decorating have you done?
The whole house has been painted a few times, light fittings changed, furniture replaced etc. A few years ago we re-modelled the kitchen and built the laundry room which really opened up the space.
Out in the stables we’ve done lots of work building a wash-room and solarium for the horses and a huge luxury tack room which I love. I’m embarrassed to say, other than painting, I tend to delegate the actual physical work. I love the design phase, then sourcing and buying all the materials and elements of that design and of course, the styling and the “faffing” at the end but my talents are not to be found in the DIY department sadly!
Have you had any DIY or styling disasters?
Many! Styling wise, let’s just say my taste has improved dramatically in the last 10 years. I look back at some of the “finds” I brought home in the past and wonder what I was thinking. DIY wise I tend to think things are going to be much simpler than they turn out to be. I went through a phase of thinking Gorilla Glue could fix all of life’s problems, turns out it can’t.
What is your top home styling tip?
I think, despite me just recalling with embarrassment some of the decorating choices I made in the past, it is a case of trial and error so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Find what works for you, develop your taste and personal style by trying a few on and seeing how they feel. I have friends with very differently styled homes to mine and I love what they’ve done with them and how their homes reflect them but it wouldn’t feel right in my home. Anything from ultra glam to colourful and quirky. There’s no right or wrong in my eyes when it comes to home styling, just find what works for, and brings joy for you.
Is there anything in your home that you couldn’t live without?
Aside from my family? Not really.
They say that a every home tells visitors a story about who lives there. What do you think your home says about you?
Hmm ... I’d love to be able to say it tells a story of a happy, relaxed, organised, animal-loving family with all the time in the world to enjoy the blessing that is where we live, and there are moments in days where I think it does. I fear however, that most of the time, it gives away the fact that things are a little more chaotic than that.
The Home Edit
Lived-in or showhome?
Somewhere between the two
If you could only paint your walls one colour, which one would it be?
Currently, much of our house is Farrow and Ball “Elephant’s Breath” but I also love “Drop Cloth”
What is your pet hate when it comes to your own or other’s homes?
I cannot stand when things have been used and not returned to where they were found, the milk on the countertop, the toothpaste at the side of the sink, the wet towel left in a heap on the carpet, the dirty plate left beside the dishwasher! I’m not irked by it in other people’s homes, just my own!
Favourite front door colour?
OOOh, I have no idea ... I can appreciate all sorts of colours and styles.
Carpet or Floorboards?
It depends on the room. Carpet in the bedrooms, natural floors with beautiful rugs elsewhere.
Kitchen table dining or formal dining room?
High gloss or rustic?
Rustic all the way
Wallpaper or Brick Walls?
Stone walls are the dream. I’m not really a wallpaper girl
If you enjoyed being at home with Karen, you might like to take a look inside other popular home styling accounts on Instagram and find out more about the people behind them. You can see more of these "at home with" articles here
You can catch up with Karen's Instagram account here. It's well worth a look!