As part of our interview series, My Happy Home, Charlotte Church tells us about her secret bookcase door, the power of plants to decorate a home, and the accessory she wants to start a 'movement against'.
Charlotte Church is a Welsh singer, songwriter, actress and television presenter who rose to fame as a classical crossover soprano in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
After gaining international recognition with her debut album, Voice of an Angel, Charlotte also ventured into acting, appearing in TV shows and films like Heartbeat and Under Milk Wood. Meanwhile, she also hosted her own TV show, The Charlotte Church Show, in 2006.
Most recently, Charlotte has opened a new wellness retreat in rural Wales. The Dreaming — situated in the former home of Laura Ashley — offers guests a place for healing through experiencing beauty, nature and wonder. Wellbeing activities include yoga, sound healing ceremonies, foraging, stargazing, cold water immersion, den building, sensory portal building, painting, dance, and much more.
The singer also regularly campaigns for climate action, economic equity, and wellbeing for all.
What makes you happiest at home?
CC: At the moment my home is split between two places. When I'm at The Dreaming, nature makes me the happiest. I just feel so soothed. At the moment, we've had a big family of house martins come back. They nest at the front of the house and they're so playful.
Tell us about your childhood home
CC: We moved a lot. We probably moved about nine times in 16 years because my parents were always doing up houses, selling them on, and getting something better. I was never that connected to any of the houses that we lived in, really.
I suppose my childhood home was my nana's house. It was such a constant in my life, I loved it. But the decoration of it? She's gone now so I don't want to disrespect my nan – I suppose it was quite traditional. The one thing I do remember was absolutely loving her Christmas decorations. She used to have the old fashioned, geometric ones that would hang from the ceiling. I used to love them even more than the tree for some reason. They were the absolute business for me as a kid. And the fridge – when I go into the house, even though my nan has gone, the first thing I do is go into the fridge. It's just a habit. We all form such weird little habits.
When you get home, what is the first thing you like to do?
CC: The first thing I like to do is take a couple of deep breaths of that really crisp, clear, beautiful air, and listen to birdsong.
Which room do you spend most of your time in? How did you decorate this space?
CC: At The Dreaming, I probably spend most of my time in The Refectory, which is our dining room. It's decorated to be somewhere between an ancient Welsh and an ancient French witch's cottage. There's loads of beautiful dried herbs hanging from the ceiling in garlands, and we can interchange them seasonally. It has a beautiful smell to it.
We've got these two enormous banquet tables, which are made from really old wood from the barn. There's an open fireplace in there and we took all the floors back to the original floorboards. It's really rustic but very, very beautiful.
The view out of the patio doors goes straight down the valley, it's an exceptional room. We do a lot of sharing in there; there's a lot of talking, feasting and fun. In the summer you throw the doors open and you feel such expanse because of the valley.
Describe the view outside your bedroom window?
CC: I'm often in the barn, that's sort of my retreat within a retreat. The view out my window is over a really old stone wall. It overlooks the elemental garden, which is themed in terms of the colours of the flowers. Each represents fire, earth and water. There's a lot of white, yellow, reds, oranges, and pinks, plus a lot of baby blues and greens. It's sort of like a rainbow of colours in the elemental garden which is pretty beautiful.
What is the best decorating advice you have ever received?
CC: I mean, to be honest, for me, it's plants, plants, plants, plants, plants, and more plants! And also really big plants. I grow bougainvillea up the walls in my house which is beautiful because they flower. Scented plants inside is pretty amazing.
You've always got that natural scent to your house if you've got Jasmine growing indoors, for example. So my best decorating advice is loads and loads of plants. And lots of places where you can listen to music. Plants and music make for a happy home.
What is the best home bargain you've ever snapped up?
CC: I buy loads of cheap sh*t all the time. I try not to buy it from places that are mass-produced or things that are made terribly and exploit the earth. I love scouring the internet for lots of antique pieces.
We've got one room called Forest Spirits. I bought a proper traditional Japanese tatami mat and it's so cool. It's got a really particular smell that smells like a forest. It's really smooth and intense and a bit textured underfoot. I really love it. It wasn't cheap though, so I'm not sure what I'm on about!
What is your most treasured possession at home? Why is it so special?
CC: My vinyl collection, probably. I've got a lot, maybe around 300. It's mine and my husband's collection, so it's not solely mine.
We've also got a book collection. We've got so many books it's insane. I'm a bit of a nerd, so I read a lot of non-fiction in all sorts of spheres. I go back to my books to read them again or to check a fact. They're very living. It's not like 'oh I've read this', whereas my husband is super literary, and a writer and loves fiction. All the books are stored in a massive bookcase with a secret door in it. It's pretty special. The two bookcases open out into two double doors – they fully open which is really cool.
What would we find in your bedside table?
CC: I don't think I'm going to answer that question! I think it's best just to represent the coyness. I'll keep people guessing.
What would top your list for the worst decor trend?
CC: I actually want to start a movement against plastic plants. It absolutely grates on my soul. I just think it is the absolute epitome of everything that's wrong with the world.
Sorry, I'm going really strongly with this, but I feel like it's such an act of self harm, like what the human condition is doing to itself. We are nature, then to be using this product we know takes ages to decompose, leaves all sorts of stuff in the ecosystem, and then we're forming it into the shape of plants. When plants are so amazing, life-giving and good for us to look after. That is bullsh*t. It is an absolute affront to my soul.
Are you green-fingered?
CC: Yes, massively. I've got probably about 150 houseplants in my house. There's a lot of gardening that goes on in my life. We've got a horticulturalist called Paul and he has been skilling me up in all things plants. I think I really started in earnest in my 30s where I really started growing my own fruits and vegetables. Nurturing a plant from seed to plate feels so rewarding. That food is so much more nourishing. When you realise how much love and care has gone into tending this thing to bring it to fruition, then it's just better for you. It's more nourishing, with more vitamins and minerals.
If you could have a snoop around anyone's house, whose would it be and why?
CC: I would love to go to Kate Bush's house. She's such an enigma and an exceptional creative. But also the character that she is, it seems like she actually spent a lot of time at home, home-making with the babies. It think it's probably a really interesting, creative place. I think I'd find really interesting arts, super quirky unexpected things, and bold choices.
For more information about how to book a stay at The Dreaming, visit thedreaming.co.uk.
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