At Home With Stefania Bennett @wife_onthe_farm
This week we are at home with Stefania Bennett the lady behind the popular instagram account @wife_onthe_farm
Stef juggles toddlers, farm life, and a whole menagerie of animals from cows to horses, dogs and not forgetting the ducks who can be seen enjoying a good splash in the kitchen sink.
Tell us a bit about you
I’m a modern Farmer’s Wife, with a job of my own, and two toddlers to look after. We live on our busy working dairy farm in Worcestershire. Our house on the farm was only built a few years ago, and we are slowly managing to make it more of a home.
Tell us about your home
We moved into our newly built house in early 2016. As an ag-tied property, the planners insisted it look like the nearest buildings … the cow sheds! So from outside it is very rectangular and fairly boring, although a lot of people say they like the wood cladding and rendering mix that we applied. Our home was built for practical purposes, but we have put a lot of effort into its outside areas and they are coming along nicely.
How would you describe your home?
Definitely rustic. I love the country look. Our first home was a 17th century black and white cottage with a spiral staircase squeezed in. It was absolutely full of character with old beams and so many quirks. I miss those individual features. Our furniture is all second hand though, and I think these good quality older pieces help to bring to character to our otherwise fairly characterless building.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
The sitting room. It’s really light and I love our big wood burner. It fires out heat in winter and makes it so cosy. My husband made the mantelpiece, and I think it works really well in the room. It is somewhat taken over by toys these days, but we try and keep those in one corner, out of sight!
How does your home reflect any passions or interests?
I have my many rosettes from horse riding over the years adorning one of the walls in the kitchen, and there are horse photographs all over the house. We have photographs from various holidays over the years on the walls. We only have a couple of pieces of art on the walls that we have bought. Everything else has been taken by us, mainly in the days when we had time for photography, something we both enjoy.
What are your favourite items in the home?
The log burner is definitely my favourite. After that it is probably our king-seized sleigh bed – an accidental eBay purchase (the seller measured it wrong!) but we made sure our new bedroom was built big enough to fit it in. I also love the tiles in our bathrooms. I think that is the only bit of décor that we really thought about, so I wish we had put more effort into choosing wall colours elsewhere.
When you moved into your house was it the finished article or was it a project?
It was a complete blank canvas. We have limited time to focus on improving the house, and most of our attention has gone into the outdoors, which was nothing but flat mud when we moved in. We now have a garden, a fruit and veg patch, and our pet poultry area, full of coops built by my husband out of old pallets and other things laying around the farm.
Have you done any renovation?
We painted the base coat of the whole house over Christmas before moving in. It took forever and I hated it! I made all the curtains and cushions. We couldn’t afford to buy so many brand new, so I learnt how to use a sewing machine. I couldn’t even thread the needle when I started, so I am really proud of that, even if they may not be perfect. We also put a new front door in this year and it has made such a difference! It now looks like a home from the front of the house (as opposed to an industrial unit) and we have so much light coming into the hall. It makes the hall and kitchen feel far more homely too, and I love being able to see the cows out in the field through the glass panels.
Have you had any DIY or styling disasters?
We didn’t think enough about practicalities when we designed the house. We have no cupboard for things like a hoover. The boiler is in the farm office, which means we don’t have an airing cupboard. I wish we had put heated towel rails in the bathrooms. And there are too many windows in the bedrooms, so although they are lovely and bright, they make placing furniture really difficult.
What is your top home styling tip?
Keep it practical. There is no point in spending money on nice items if they are going to be ruined by the dogs, the kids or a farmer husband walking into the house in straw-covered socks!
Is there anything in your home that you couldn’t live without?
The log burner! And the easy-to-wash floors. I would love to have a plush carpet in the sitting room but it would be ruined within a week. We have large tiles in the kitchen which are so easy to clean, and wooden floors throughout the rest of the downstairs.
They say that a every home tells visitors a story about who lives there. What do you think your home says about you?
Our home definitely tells our story. It is chaotic, like our lives! I think it shows who we are, with photographs everywhere and little items of farming paraphernalia that have been given to us as presents over the years. We have a lot of cow things in the kitchen!
The Home Edit
Lived-in look or showhome?
If you could only paint your walls one colour, which one would it be?
Magnolia, and I’d then try and jazz everything else up with prints and colour.
What is your pet hate when it comes to your own or other’s homes?
The mess that somehow accumulates on the kitchen table.
Favourite front door colour
Green. I love my front door!
Carpet or Floorboards
I’d love carpet but for practical reasons it has to be floorboards.
Kitchen table dining or formal dining room?
Kitchen. My dining table has been used more for incubating chicks than serving food!
High gloss or rustic?
Wallpaper or Brick Walls?
If you enjoyed being at home with Stef, you might like to take a look inside other popular home styling accounts on instagram. You can see more of these "at home with" interviews here