How Charlotte Church created a rustic retreat in the Welsh countryside

Charlotte Church has taken her 15th century house in Wales from building site to blissful wellness retreat centre. Now, she’s sharing the secrets behind her 16-month revamp. 

Charlotte Church’s love of nature is well-documented – it’s part of the reason she first fell for Rhydoldog, the Welsh stately home she bought last May. “It’s flanked by two waterfalls, with an ancient forest surrounding it,” Church tells Stylist. “It was the land that really drew me in.” 

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It’s no surprise, then, that, halfway through our Zoom call, Church gives me a guided tour of her houseplants. An impressive amstel king, a climbing bougainvillaea and a hanging string of pearls are the stars of her collection, she explains. 

Her home kitchen is jungle-like, and it’s an aesthetic that Church has carried over to Rhydoldog (now branded as The Dreaming), with a bohemian, rustic energy that feels simultaneously relaxed and sumptuous. From a dried flower dining room ceiling to a palm-filled relaxation space, Church’s vision is cosy, laid back and cleverly undone.

Charlotte Church’s Dream Build airs from 9pm on 5 October on Really, and is available to stream on discovery+

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The first series of Charlotte Church’s Dream Build aired in January and documented the beginnings of her renovation journey, ending with just one of the seven bedrooms complete. Pleasingly, the latest series, airing today on Really, is where interiors fans can really roll their sleeves up. Following the journey from empty shell to ready-to-open retreat centre, Church guides us through the process of transforming the house in an eight-episode renovation rollercoaster.

Charlotte Church’s Dream Build : The Wanderer Room

Here, she tells us about her best design choices, her biggest decorating hurdles and her favourite place to find secondhand gems.

What was your biggest décor inspiration when starting your renovation?

“Everything was based on instinct, but one thing I knew from the very beginning was that I wanted to find a way to bring the outside in. There are loads of houseplants, of course, and I’ve consciously used natural (not neutral, which can sometimes look too staid) colours throughout. Because Rhydoldog is set to be a retreat centre, everything was geared towards making a space where people can rest and connect to themselves. I worked with a great interiors expert called Sera of London, who set me on the right path – she gave me the confidence to make the space feel lived in, rather than trying to make it pristine.”

The mushroom room before, The mushroom room after

Which room is your favourite and why?

“I can’t pick just one! Every room is so individual. They’re all named because I wanted each one to have a story behind it. One of my favourites is The Womb, which I decorated using lots of soft, dip-dyed fabrics so it feels very cocoon-like. I also love The Moon – I wanted it to feel like an ancient temple at Delphi, so everything’s very restful in there. It almost feels like a bath for the mind.”

What’s been your biggest renovation challenge?

“I think the most challenging part was having people – men, in particular – doubting me. Lots of the people working on the renovation with me (even my dad) thought my ideas wouldn’t work because they were outlandish. The pink, curved shower in The Womb is a great example of that. I really had to convince them it’d work, but once they pushed themselves to think more creatively, we all agreed that it looked great. I think it’s all about being imaginative.”

The Healing Room after, The Healing Room after

What do you wish you’d known before starting your renovation?

“I wish I’d known how beautiful natural finishes can be. It’s really tempting to go overboard with paint and wallpaper, but the more rooms I got started on, the more I realised that it was the rough, natural textures I loved. With rustic finishes, there’s way more scope to make the furniture and textiles sumptuous and lavish without it feeling overdone. That was a really good lesson: it’s not all down to being able to make changes to the walls and floor, you can make a massive change with accessories alone.”

Which design choice are you most happy with and why?

“There are so many I’m proud of, but I think the one that makes the biggest difference is my decision not to use any ceiling lights. Lamps and wall lights create a really nice warm glow – much nicer than a glaring overhead light.” 

The Moon Room before, The Moon Room after

You’re a big fan of houseplants – what are your secrets?

“Choosing the right plant is half the battle. I love kentia palms, cacti and mother-in-law’s tongue because they’re all so low maintenance. I don’t fuss over them – mine probably get watered once a month – but I’m very attentive. A top tip for mother-in-law’s tongues: they release oxygen at night so it’s great to keep them in your bedroom. Another thing I always do is repot bigger plants into old whiskey barrels – they’re often more affordable than huge pots and look great.”

The Mystic Room before, The Mystic Room before

Where are your favourite places to shop for interiors?

“I try to buy as many things secondhand as I can, and I think Vinterior for is great for finding amazing pre-loved furniture. Lots of the pieces are stupidly expensive, but I always set my price filter to under £200, so as not to be envious of the high-end stuff, and I’ve discovered lots of really unusual and interesting pieces. I also love Unicef’s online store for textiles and accessories. The charity works with craftspeople from all over the world so, when you buy from the site, you’re supporting both Unicef and the makers. It’s nice to know you’re supporting the right people.”

Charlotte Church’s Dream Build airs from 9pm on 5 October on Really and is available to stream on discovery+

Images: courtesy of Really and discovery+

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