Blogger, stylist, fashionista and now interior designer, Willow Crossley has collaborated with Jo Malone, Mulberry, Anthropologie and Liz Earle and has an A-list following that includes Sienna Miller and the Delevingne girls.
Her book ‘Flourish’’, was published last year, but it was while she was writing her second interiors-focused tome ‘Inspire: The Art of Living With Nature’, that she discovered her real passion for flowers. Since then she has launched a faux flower collection for furniture retailer OKA and has made a foray into interior design by taking charge of the décor at her and husband Charlie Crossley’s most recent pub venture, The Swan at Ascott Under Wychwood in the Cotwolds. The couple also own The Bull Inn at Charlbury and live nearby in a 16th century listed farmhouse, with their three sons, Wolf, Rafferty and Kit, aged seven, five and nearly three.
How did you come to be a floral designer?
After studying fashion journalism at the London School of Fashion, I went into fashion magazines but it wasn’t for me. We moved to France, where I began writing a blog which turned into a book called ‘The Art of Handmade Living’. I wrote my second book which is all about interiors and decorating and it was when compiling the chapter on flowers that I felt I had hit gold. I wasn’t trained, it was just instinctive. I did a short course at the Covent Garden School and it just took off.
How would you describe your floral style?
Wild and natural; I’m not very good at being restrained. I think many people are intimidated by flowers so I’d encourage mixing with lots of foliage. Pick wild flowers when walking in the countryside and mix them – just follow your instinct.
How can fake flowers compete?
There has always been a snobbery about fake flowers but they are so good these days. Fresh flowers are always preferable, but they can be expensive and fake flowers are a great substitute. The main thing is to play with them, open up the petals and put them in water for a realistic look.
Can you tell us about your interiors style?
I am obsessed with fabrics and colours. There is nothing more depressing than being surrounded by a neutral beige wall. I don’t like to play it safe. Life is too short. I’m also drawn to old tribal and Indian designs because I’m a hippie at heart.
Who are your favourite interior designers?
I asked seven of them to design bedrooms at our pub The Swan and they include: Penny Morrison and her daughter Sarah Vanrenen; Christina Strutt, founder of Cabbages & Roses; Lady Annabel Astor; Vanessa Barneby of Barneby Gates and Charlotte Lawson Johnston, who are two of my best friends.
What is most important for you in a bedroom?
A huge bed. Charlie and I are obsessed with enormous beds and I always get mine from an incredible company in the East End called Norris Bedding. Headboards should also be the focal point; ours is made from a green antique suzani fabric from Turkey with brass studs around the top, which was made by Love Nest. We have an open plan bedroom and bathroom with dark walls in Farrow & Ball Hague Blue which I love as it’s really calming and intimate.
What’s your own kitchen like?
I’ve just installed a beautiful arabascato marble surface and splashback with a ledge so I can display my vases of flowers. We have a green AGA which we inherited and I have painted all the cupboard doors in Farrow & Ball Studio Green. My favourite thing is a multi-coloured kilim bench from OKA.
Words by Susan Springate