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Home visit: our escape to the country

If home is the place where we should feel most at ease, the story of this couple’s journey from city centre to the wilds of the country is an inspiration. See how they created a home that keeps perfect balance between beautiful design and practical needs…

A woman leans on a shiny grey cabinet in a galley kitchen that opens to a dining room with white wood table and chairs.
A woman leans on a shiny grey cabinet in a galley kitchen that opens to a dining room with white wood table and chairs.

Find a happy balance

“We came here to find a lifestyle that gives us peace,” says Rena, of the move she and husband Sam made to a Norwegian farmhouse. “You can like 100 things but there are key values. For us, it’s nature.” And balancing old and new. “The house is 100 years old but modern renovations make it practical.” Opening up the kitchen to make one cooking, eating and living space makes cooking more social.

Mix and match styles

“For us, home is a place to feel comfortable, at ease and inspired,” says Rena. In putting their space together, the couple have managed to reflect both their personalities. “Nerdy electronic gadgets (we’re in the middle of nowhere but we have fast WiFi!) combined with beautiful design touches, a little bit of mess and some creativity.”

The openness of our kitchen/dinner/work spaces inspires me. It has a nice flow. There’s room to do lots of activities and I like that Sam and I can be together in the space doing different things without distracting each other.


Trust your feeling

Saying yes to their farmhouse happened in a whirlwind, “I saw it once before we decided to take it,” says Rena. “I was packing up our apartment in The Netherlands, giving things away, keeping others with no dimensions and only my memory and web photos to go by. But it felt right and I trusted my feelings. I decorated room by room – settling in, then making it comfortable, which for us means being able to relax. Like in our TV room, it’s a nice retreat at the end of the day.”

Curate your displays

You don’t always have to buy new things to make your home feel new. “I’m always moving things around, creating small displays, rearranging corners or adding something new. It can change the whole space – bring fresh energy. Our home isn’t filled with stuff but what we have on show has meaning – ceramics I’ve made, wood pieces carved by Sam, found objects from our walks together…”

Add plants

“We had over 100 plants in our Dutch studio apartment – it had six-metre high ceilings and never felt full. Finding new homes for plants I’d taken care, some for 10 years, was the hardest part for me. But some plants travelled with us, the ones we felt could thrive in this atmosphere. I use plants to soften corners, as spots where you can relax under their leaves and as room dividers.”

Design to last

Look to furniture and textiles made from natural materials to create a home that ages with grace. Like wood you can use every day and when it becomes tired, you can sand, varnish and give it a new lease of life, or natural fibres woven into rugs that are easy underfoot, good to sit on and also hardwearing.

Our home is a typical, idyllic Norwegian wooden farmhouse. To create a warm and welcoming interior we use natural and soft materials, handmade objects, lots of plants and a hint of clean and simple Scandinavian design.


Invest in a good bed

“The bed is new – a present for our first wedding anniversary. When we moved countries, we had so much to do, getting a decent bed never seemed a priority. We slept on one made from three single beds pushed together! Now we have a bed that’s high and big – you climb into it and just relax… It’s so comfortable! Every morning we wake up feeling the difference a comfy bed makes.”

Pick your design vibe

How do you design a bedroom you look forward to being in? “Before we got our proper bed, this was just things in a room, now it’s turning into a bedroom. It only took a few things to give it some nice vibes – the big mirror and having a bench at the end of the bed where you can sit, or store things instead of them landing on the floor!” says Rena.

Practical beauty

Don’t overlook areas that can make daily life easier. Rena and Sam’s hallway has a job to do – making a good first impression on guests for their Airbnb. Space is precious so practical additions like a wall-mounted mirror to save floor space help. As well as a bench where you can sit to put on shoes (and tuck them neatly underneath) and an extra-long run of hooks so every coat has a place.

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by
Interior designer: Ashlyn Gibson
Photographer: Benjamin Edwards
Art director: Jules Rogers
Writer: Helen Bazuaye
Follow Rena and Sam @studiohearhear @theendeavorist