Interiorssneak peeks

In Scotland, a Rug Designer’s 200-Year-Old Farmhouse

by Garrett Fleming

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

Dunbar, a coastal town about 30 miles east of Edinburgh, Scotland, attracts a certain type of person. On most days you’ll find villagers fishing, cycling, bird watching and exploring every nook and cranny of the 650-year-old town’s craggy coastline. Overall, it’s a place special to those with a penchant for history and an innate longing for adventure.

One couple who’s smitten with Dunbar is rug designer Wendy Morrison and her husband Gregor. While the pair obviously adores the area because of its aforementioned attributes, it’s particularly special to them because of its deep connection to their own family history. See, it was in Dunbar that the couple raised their two children and spent their first few years as new parents in the early 2000s. It was an exciting time, and the start of a new life.

After a couple years living in France, in 2016 the Morrisons anxiously moved back to the seaside town and into a 200-year-old house. While gorgeous, surprisingly it wasn’t what was inside the farmhouse that Gregor and Wendy fell in love with initially. Instead, its location and grounds caught their eye. Not only does the Georgian-style property boast a beautiful garden, but it sits near the train line to London, is equidistant from Edinburgh and Newcastle and is near the beach. All in all, Gregor and Wendy knew from day one that its whereabouts would gift their family with the perfect blend of both cosmopolitan and country living.

The family initially rented the home for a year before buying it, meaning they weren’t able to make any major design decisions during their first days there. As we all know, renting can be quite restrictive decor-wise, but it actually ended up being a blessing in disguise for the design-centric Morrisons. Instead of jumping in and making potentially-rash decisions about its look, they spent the first year paying attention to how they used the space, what layouts worked best and getting a feel for all the ways the house fit into their lives.

Since Wendy’s family and career are her two greatest passions, it’s not surprising that the two got top billing when she and Gregor bought the house last year and started decorating it to their liking. Firstly, Wendy chose colors and accessories that complement her rugs so as to let them be the hero. Their ornate designs make such a statement, Wendy knew pairing them with too many contrasting finds would dilute their impact. Secondly, she thought back to all she’d learned about how her family used the house, which rooms got the best light throughout the day and to which spaces her children and husband naturally gravitated. Essentially, she let the family’s history with the home be her guide. Together, the dual north star has resulted in a house perfectly fit for family life and showing off her work. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Douglas Gibb

Image above: Chinese symbolism inspires much of Wendy’s work. Her rug in the living room, for example, is titled “Good Fortune” and features cranes, a dragon, a phoenix and the color red. All four represent longevity and happiness in Chinese philosophy.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

A velvet sofa may not have been the most practical choice given the pair has two young children, but it’s proven itself useful in an unexpected way. Its navy shade makes it the perfect complement to Wendy’s rug designs, so she oftentimes uses it when styling her product shoots. The pillows it holds were cut from kimonos.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

The early-19th-century desk in the corner acts like a coffee table and holds the living room’s unsightly TV remotes and small electronics.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

Decorating does not just happen. One needs to live in the space and work out what will work best… and in time a true home will be formed.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

On most days, you can find Wendy at the foot of her bed doing yoga and looking out over the home’s back gardens. She admits the rug’s a bit slippery for downward dog, but Wendy loves the room’s look so much, she says being a little wobbly is worth it.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

A Chinese fan featuring a dragon – the most-powerful of all cosmic symbols – hangs above the couple’s bed.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

The bedroom’s twin alcoves have been a bit of a challenge to fill. Initially, Wendy was going to dot each with giant pottery. Then she was going to give them a pop of paint. In the end, Wendy felt the space needed some greenery, both in the form of plants and framed wallpaper.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

Meticulous Wendy hasn’t found the perfect fabric to reupholster this chair in just yet. Until inspiration strikes, she keeps it covered with a teal Icelandic sheepskin.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

The Morrison family’s bathroom is situated at the back of the house (an area that gets very little natural light.) The small window, however, does provide just enough sunshine to sustain a little greenery. The plants and avian wallpaper have earned this room its nickname: The Bird Sanctuary.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

Wendy and Gregor say the back garden has played host to their fondest memories: the moments when the sun calls the family and their pets outdoors for some fun.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

After the news of Brexit came down, Wendy went to her studio to contemplate and create. The result was the rug that sits in the dining room. The design features butterflies – a symbol of transformation– and periwinkles – a symbol of immortality. These images represent Wendy’s desire to find the positives within an outcome she hadn’t hoped for. This is also her only product that makes use of a repeating pattern, something that organically arose while designing it. Perhaps it was a subconscious nod to finding order in chaos?

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

Look closely, and you’ll see one of the home’s more unique touches: door frames that’ve been painted gold.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

Samples that didn’t make it into Wendy’s final collection — as well as florals and a kitschy swan’s head — make up the dining room’s gallery wall.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

The dining room was originally painted blue. Wendy, however, wanted to warm it up, so she covered it with this blush tone.

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

“I do feel extremely privileged to be living in this wonderful house and being in a position to decorate it as I wish.” – Wendy Morrison

In Scotland, a Rug Designer's 200-Year-Old Farmhouse, Design*Sponge

The 200-year-old Georgian farmhouse’s floor plan.


Living Room
Tapestry– Graham & Greene
Sofa – Swoon Editions
Chair, lamps – Homesense
Throw pillows – Cushion Kamachi
Rug – Wendy Morrison Design
Desk – Drum Farm Antiques
Artwork – Mel Remmers

Paint – Valspar “Secluded Cove”
Bed – Loaf
Duvet cover – Wendy Morrison for John Lewis
Chest – Homesense
Swan lampshade – Anthropologie
Bird prints, chair – vintage
Fan – Madame Butterfly
Peacock pillow – May Rose Vintage
Rug – Wendy Morrison Design
Chinoiserie vase – Lovage & Lace
Sheepskin – Kate Learmonth

Wallpaper – Harlequin

Dining Room
Paint – Dulux “Rose Trellis”
Rug – Wendy Morrison Design
Swan head, floral prints – Hilary & Flo
Floral wall hanging – Tin Design
Mirror – Drum Farm Antiques
Chair – Homesense

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  • Fabulous, inspiring bold use of colour. I followed the link from FB because the fireplace looked a lot like the one in my parents’ Scottish Georgian farm house. As chance would have it, they *also* live in Dunbar! The fireplace, it turned out, was not at all the same.

  • What a warm and unique home! The colors are bold and go together so beautifully, it’s clear that Wendy is a skilled designer. The house feels straight out of “Escape to the Country”, but is still clearly a family home. Loved this tour!

  • I have been a fan of Wendy’s rugs for quite a while. Currently saving to make a purchase. Her home is as beautiful as I imagined it would be.

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