The Welsh House: Slow Living in a Traditional Cottage, Available for Rent, in Wales

Bryn Eglur Parlour Will Venning

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.

Bryn Eglur exterior
Above: Bryn Eglur means “Clear Hill” and is nestled in a grove of trees.

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.”

Bryn Eglur Interior Will Venning
Above: The entryway to the cottage. With the exception of the new slate flagstones and an underfloor heating system, the two main reception rooms have been left intact.

“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.

Bryn Eglur Parlour Will Venning
Above: The formal parlor is to the left of a wood-paneled hallway. “Most of the traditional cottages I’ve seen no longer have this small room, but I wanted to keep it as it was,” explains Bowen.

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).

Bryn Eglur Snug Will Venning
Above: To the right of the main entrance is the snug, where an open fire would have blazed in the huge inglenook fireplace.

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.

Bryn Eglur Kitchen Will Venning
Above: Bowen installed a spacious modern kitchen in the adjoining cowshed.

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).

Bryn Eglur Salting Sink Will Venning
Above: The kitchen surfaces are made from Welsh slate and incorporate a vast, reclaimed salting sink (traditionally used for curing meat), now used to drain crockery and wash fruit and vegetables.
Bryn Eglur cawl spoons
Above: Another collection of wall-mounted cawl spoons.
Wildflowers at Bryn Eglur, Photo by Will Venning
Above: The cottage is at the end of a rough track surrounded by fields and brook. The reception rooms look out over the fields.
Daffodils at Bryn Eglur Will Venning
Above: Freshly-cut daffodils and wildflowers brighten the cottage.
Bryn Eglur master bedroom
Above: In the main bedroom, a simple iron bed and a few choice pieces of Welsh furniture fill the room. The bed is covered in a traditional Welsh blanket.
Bryn Eglur Bedroom Will Venning
Above: A wood-paneled staircase leads to two interconnected bedrooms.
Bryn Eglur cupboard bed
Above: On the other side of the distressed green boards is a traditional Welsh cupboard bed that Bowen found on eBay —the perfect cubbyhole for children.
Bryn Eglur Bathroom Will Venning
Above: What was the larder in a north-facing corner of the house has been turned into a simple bathroom with a roll-top bath.
Bryn Eglur Exterior Will Venning
Above: Bryn Eglur is not the place to come for guaranteed clear skies and Wi-Fi coverage—but if you’re looking to switch off completely, this simple, snug set-up will help.

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.

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