Margot and Harm Pustjens renovated every room in their country home, taking their time to find the right materials and achieve the perfect look before turning their thoughts to the garden.
Scroll down to be inspired by the couple's stunning Dutch farmhouse, then visit the world's best homes to discover more beautiful houses.
Anyone who knew Margot as a child would not be at all surprised to discover that she now has her own floristry design business and gift shop, and that she sells vintage accessories, and lives in a house in the country with a garden brimming with flowers. Her love for interior design began when she was still at school. She loved to decorate and was constantly changing her bedroom décor.
See: Country living room ideas – rustic rooms that are cozy and chic
One of her favorite hobbies was making flower arrangements with flowers picked from her parents’ garden. Another was repurposing old pieces of furniture to give them a new lease of life.
The home that she shares with husband Harm and their two grown-up children is full of Margot’s special decorative touches: a bowl of fresh-looking spring bulbs here, a pretty display of vintage china there, and a few surprises – such as taxidermy birds – mixed in for good measure.
See: Country kitchen ideas – get the rustic look with our ultimate inspiration gallery
The overall look is calm, fresh, but also cozy and welcoming; a lot different to how the house looked when the couple first moved in. In fact, although Harm fell under its spell from the start, loving the rural setting and big summerhouse, it took Margot a while to come round to the idea.
The couple had just finished renovating their previous home, and Margot had finally got her cottage garden planted up exactly how she wanted it, so it was always going to be a bit of a wrench.
‘I honestly didn’t feel terribly excited at first about starting from scratch with another renovation,’ she says. ‘But Harm was so enthusiastic about all the outside space and what we could do with the house, that he soon convinced me we should take it on. And I’m so glad he did.’
When they moved in everything was tatty and dark, the exact opposite of the light, bright color palette the couple favor. They chose traditional materials for their renovations, in keeping with the age of the house; for instance, the floor tiles and woodwork are all salvaged to give an authentic period look. They allowed themselves plenty of time to make the right choices and track down the best materials for the job.
- See: Country bedroom ideas – bring charming rustic style to your master and guest bedrooms
Margot believes it pays to be patient when you’re working through a whole house. ‘It’s better to move in and live in a ‘work in progress’ for a while,’ she says. ‘That way you get to know the house before rushing in to change and upgrade everything. Follow your instincts and your heart; what the house needs will be revealed to you, if you take the time to listen.’
Margot decided that what this house needed was a ‘dusty and old’ color palette. ‘Colors that evoke the spring and summer even when it is winter,’ she explains. She combines colored candles, cushions, throws, and antique furniture, in a cozy, relaxed way to ensure her home and garden offer visitors the warmest of welcomes. Her favorite room is the kitchen. Gathering friends and family around the table to enjoy a meal makes her really happy.
In an old farmhouse like this, with such a big garden, there is always a lot to do. But Margot never sees it as a chore. She takes her inspiration from meadows and fields, and just as she did when she was a child, she still loves to pick garden flowers. She gathers branches and moss from the woods to make natural decorations for almost every room in the house.
‘I decorate to suit every season,’ she says. ‘And my home and garden never stay the same for long. Most of the furniture in our home is also for sale, so we’re always changing things. Whether that’s the furniture, decorations, accessories or just the flower arrangements.’
See: Country bathroom ideas – family bathrooms and ensuites with a gorgeous rustic look
Having a garden filled with all types of flowers and ensuring there is plenty of spring, summer and autumn color is essential for Margot. After all, flower arranging, and running workshops is her job. Besides the workshops, she also holds open days, lunches and seasonal events in her garden.
‘When we moved in I was less worried about the house renovation than I was about the state of the garden,’ she says. ‘It was all just grass and fruit-trees. I love roses and flowers but there was nothing like that here then.’ The outdoor space is virtually unrecognisable now.
Margot and Harm have worked hard to come up with a planting scheme that would suit the rural setting and give Margot the cut flowers she needed for her arrangements and workshops, but that would also incorporate the trees and some of the plants that were there already.
‘It gave the garden a mature feel and the older trees were marvellous anchor points for the new layout,’ says Margot.
For someone as passionate about gardens as Margot, combining her hobby with her job gives her the perfect work-life balance. ‘I love hosting flower workshops in my studio. It’s so nice to share our home and garden in this way.’
Words / Geraldine Nesbitt
Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.