From his carefully curated Instagram feed, which features charming images of fresh-cut flora (@thewelshhouse), you’d be forgiven for thinking that Dorian Bowen is a florist by trade. Instead, he’s the proprietor of The Welsh House—actually three holiday cottages—available for rent in rural Carmarthenshire, Wales. Bowen brought the cottages back to their traditional Welsh interiors that, paradoxically, eschew the modern, digital world, encouraging what Bowen calls “slow living escapism.” At the start of daffodil season, I spent the weekend at one of the charming cottages, Bryn Eglur; here’s a look inside.
Photography by Will Venning for Remodelista.
In 2003, after 25 years living and working as a building surveyor in London, Bowen began his search for a rural weekend retreat and found it in the form of a small, white cottage—Bryn Eglur, the first of his renovations. Built in 1755 and left uninhabited for 40 years, the cottage was an opportunity to escape “from our modern lives back into the heart of nature.”
“The cottage was in a pretty sad state when I found it,” says Bowen in a melodic Welsh accent. “Ivy had completely overtaken the roof, to the extent that I thought the cottage was thatched.” Wherever possible, Bowen set about repairing rather than replacing the interiors. All interior walls were stripped back to the stone so that the mortar could be repaired. The walls have been covered in a layer of lime plaster and whitewashed throughout.
The parlor—which would have been used for Bible studies and to greet visitors—has been furnished with perfectly-proportioned local auction finds. On the mantlepiece is a framed image of an Edwardian school class that Bowen found when renovating. On the wall that leads to the kitchen is a display of Welsh cawl spoons (cawl being a traditional broth of root vegetables and lamb).
The original iron fire crane is still in situ, as are the panels of interwoven hazel which line the chimney flue (unseen behind the mantle). The armchair and sofa are both Ercol designs covered in traditional Welsh fabric.
A red Rangemaster cooker heats the space. Meals are eaten around a bleached Welsh refectory table on mismatched antique chairs. Bowen found the wooden settle at the property when he moved in. The red of the Rangemaster is picked up in the stable door (just seen on the left).
Bowen says of the Welsh cottages: “In the thoughtful mix of finds, you’ll discover not so much a style, but more a feeling—one that is focused on simple living and a sense of authenticity.”
N.B. For more information, visit Bryn Eglur.
Looking to unplug? Check out these rustic UK escapes:
- A John Pawson Masterpiece for Lease
- Off the Grid: A Modern Farm, Sans Electricity
- Berdoulat & Breakfast: A B&B in Bath