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Meet Decca from the Craftsman’s Cabin

Meet Decca from the Craftsman’s Cabin
June 10, 2024 Nordicmuse
In Feature

Surrounded by dewy meadows and with magical views over the rolling hills of Somerset full of blossoming orchards the surroundings of the Craftsman’s Cabin, our latest adventure destination, could not have been more idyllic. The small wooden house in Kingsbury Episcopi became our home and shooting location for a long weekend. With its rustic log house charm and the lovingly decorated interior, the cabin won our hearts as soon as we set foot in it. The small space fulfilled our wildest country-living dreams providing two cosy bedrooms, a quaint kitchen, and a living area including a wood burner, a shower room, and a free-standing bathtub on the veranda.

Decca, who runs the Craftsman’s Cabin and lives on the same land in a historic mansion known as Home Farm with her husband and three daughters, welcomed us warm-heartedly. Decca’s family has lived in the area for generations and even made their cider which she kindly provided for us to try. Her hospitality exceeded our expectations. We were impressed by the extras she offers such as a luxurious firepit supper with seasonal vegetables, jacket potatoes, and salsa verde by Insta-famous chef Kitty Coles. We also indulged in an oyster hamper with a bottle of dry cider, the freshest shellfish, and instructions on shucking them.

We’ve had an unforgettable time in the Craftsman’s Cabin and took a lot of inspiration from it. We are excited to share some of Decca’s insights, as she spoke to us about her design process, decorating tips, and favourite things to do in Kingsbury.

What inspired you to establish the Craftsman’s Cabin?

When we first moved to Home Farm everything was very overgrown, the hedges, the garden, and the orchard. We knew that there must be a view over the South Somerset Levels and Moors from the back meadow, but we just couldn’t see it. Once we trimmed the hedges the most spectacular view revealed itself and because it’s west facing the sunsets are beautiful.

I wanted to create something that would celebrate all that is authentically Somerset; from the makers and craftspeople who built it and have made the things for the interiors to the amazing and delicious local produce that roots farming and food to the land of this area. It’s my love letter to Somerset and all that’s good about it; Its timelessness, creativity, beauty, and its ancient, mythical history. It’s sort of anti-trend and just meant to be a simple but really cosy cabin that people can use as a base to get to know this slightly less-known patch that I am very lucky to be able to call home.

What did you find the most challenging in the process?

My husband and I were both working whilst the cabin build was happening. Trying to juggle work, family life (we have three daughters), and a new build on a budget was a challenge and really hard work! We both put in hard graft on all fronts to create Craftsman’s Cabin. But I’m very lucky to have a very handy and willing husband and helpful friends who came to lend a hand when needed.

Do you have any tips when decorating a small space?

My belief is it should always be just enough. Not too much or over the top. If it needs to serve a purpose or function, then choose the best quality you can afford. I try to make everything I design high-quality but that isn’t the same as luxury. There’s nothing in the cabin that shouldn’t be there. I try to design places with soul and authenticity that are not too contrived or forced. I intrinsically love old things so whatever project I’m working on I try to mix old and new. The cabin is rooted in its place using natural, local materials and local makers.

Whether it is paintings, woodwork, or ceramics – Craftsmanship of all kinds seems to be a focus in your design approach. Could you tell us where your passion for these crafts comes from? What is your favourite craft?

I have always loved the process of craftsmanship in anything not just buildings and interiors. I admire the ingenuity and longevity of handmade things. Most skills come from ancient processes adapted to suit modern life or sometimes can remain relatively unchanged, like pottery. These skills were essential to our evolution, and I think we have to protect them and celebrate them, or we may lose some of them altogether. Somerset has always been a haven for creativity and the rural way of life calls for many traditional skills to still be used whether it be stone carving, carpentry, or blacksmithing. I love that continuity. I couldn’t choose a favourite as it is filled with things made by friends of mine. Having Frances Watt’s artwork on the walls is pretty special though, she paints the Somerset landscape so well and Dan from Bevel’s hand-turned, useful, beautiful wooden plates, boards, and trays.

What makes the location of the Cabin so special?

The nature of this low-lying land makes the sky feel huge and the view is totally uninterrupted. In the distance (4 miles away) is the farm that I grew up on and where my family still live, farm, and make cider. Lots of people compare it to the big skies you get on the prairies of the US, and quite a few have even coined it the ‘Somerset Serengeti’. It’s a really special place and there’s a magic about it. This part of the levels (or moor as we call it) is a Site of Special Scientific Interest so it is carefully managed and as a result, the wildlife that surrounds the cabin is abundant and varied. The birdsong at dawn and dusk is incredible. 

The cabin faces out onto the moor with miles and miles of walking along the River Parrett but is also on the edge of our lovely village.  A proper pub The Wyndham Arms is moments away down the track in the field and there’s a village shop with all the essentials so you don’t really have to leave if you don’t want to.

Why should people visit Kingsbury Episcopi? What’s your favourite part about it?

It’s a quintessential Somerset village. Built out of honey-coloured Ham Stone it quietly has everything you need and is surrounded by the most beautiful countryside. There’s a real village community and all the girls go to the school in the village too – they can walk to park and just play with their mates. It’s pretty idyllic and we are very appreciative of how lucky we are.

It’s perfectly placed to explore this area of Somerset or further afield, but you could easily not even leave. Walks, cafes, restaurants, markets towns nearby, and the Dorset coast is only 45 minutes away. It’s got it all.

If you could spend a perfect weekend in Craftsman’s Cabin how would it look like?

The perfect weekend at Craftsman’s Cabin: Stock up on supplies at The Trading Post, the amazing grocers and the butchers A. J. Winters all in South Petherton which are just off the A303, settle in, and get the fire pit going to cook supper. Watch the sunset and the swallows with a cold cider looking out across the moors from the rocking chairs on the veranda. On Saturday plot a long walk along the River Parrett making sure you arrive at Burrow Hill cider farm at lunchtime for their Cider Bus Saturdays and relax in the orchards listening to live music with lunch from the ever-changing street food vendors. You can also have a distillery tour to learn about the cider production and the world-renowned Somerset Cider Brandy. It’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Love from Make also has their shop up there where you can stock up on natural skincare and bubble baths made from all-natural ingredients and made 1 mile away. Roll back down the hill to the cabin for a lazy afternoon reading your book or bird spotting from the cabin. Go for dinner at Holm in South Petherton – my favourite restaurant in Somerset, that serves modern seasonal that are beyond delicious. On Sunday morning I’d pop to the village shop for the Sunday papers and read all my favourite sections in the outdoor bath before going over to Langport for Sunday brunch at The Bridge Café. And you couldn’t not pop into the Wyndham Arms that’s almost on your doorstep for a drink and some warm pork scratchings, it’s the perfect Somerset pub.