“The little things in nature make such a difference”

As you follow the winding stone path towards Willow Crossley’s fairy-tale Cotswolds home, you are likely to be greeted first by her exceedingly welcoming tabby cats, Dottie and Juniper, and then by the scent of fresh flowers lying under the shelter of the lych- gate in front of the house, ready to be artfully arranged into one of her whimsical, wild posies.

Inside, there are bouquets at every turn: today, deep-purple hyacinths, delicate lilywhites, tall ranunculi and pink parrot tulips. “They are so transformative for a space,” says Crossley over a mug of herbal tea. “I think their sole purpose is to make things better and more beautiful – they lift us, that’s what they do.”

It’s important to Crossley that her house is comfortable and inviting, and since having her three boys – Wolf, Rafferty and Kit – she says she no longer allows herself to get too emotionally attached to objects. “If a ball smashes through a window and knocks over a jug, at least it’s not a broken limb. We’ll live, ”she says, matter-of-factly. And indeed, it feels charmingly homely, with pieces from Oka, hand-pleated lampshades from Alice Palmer & Co and furniture picked up at Lots Road, alongside specimen display boxes of butterflies and suzani fabrics sourced from eBay and Etsy.

Willow Crossley in the studio, wearing a Miu Miu cardigan

Simon Brown

The living-room is her favorite space, with an enormous central hearth framed by a garland of dried eucalyptus, blown-up vintage film posters on the double-height walls and a large coffee table stacked with piles of books, including Dior in Bloom, Virginia Woolf’s Garden and Alexander McQueen: Evolution. She also enjoys convivial time spent around the long wooden table in the kitchen, where she has just laid out hot-cross buns and a frittata made by her husband Charlie, who runs the Bull Inn in nearby Charlbury (Crossley designed the interiors, of course ).

Each room in the house is a carnival of perfectly mismatched hues, with floral wallpaper made by Crossley in collaboration with Barneby Gates and rugs created with Amy Kent. Adorning most of the characterfully wonky walls are paintings by her mother, the artist, writer and gardener Kate Corbett-Winder. “It’s like a shrine,” she says, laughing. “We are unbelievably close. We seem identical, but I can’t paint. It’s so frustrating. ”

willow crossley

In the bedroom, wearing Christian Louboutin heels. La Double J top and trousers, both her own

Simon Brown

Crossley and her two younger brothers Ned and Tom grew up at Vaynor Park in rural Powys, an estate that has been in her father’s family for generations. “It was a very outdoorsy, happy and free childhood,” she reflects. “At the time, I didn’t appreciate where I was at all – I wanted to be in a town, shopping with friends and hanging out. It was much later that I really began to value living in the country. ” In retrospect, she realizes that such an idyllic upbringing must have imbued her with a love of flowers and green spaces. “When I go back to visit my parents, I feel so invigorated. I can really breathe when I’m there, ”she says. “When I’m away from the countryside, I miss it desperately.”

After finishing school, she moved to the capital to study at the London College of Fashion, before entering the world of glossy magazines. “My mum used to work at Vogue and I was always obsessed with clothes, so I automatically thought, ‘This is what I want to do, too,’ ”she recalls. But, after several years in the fashion cupboard at Harper’s Bazaar and later in Tatler‘s beauty department, her life took a significant turn. “Charlie moved to a vineyard just outside Saint-Tropez to make wine, and I decided that I couldn’t live without him,” she says. “I quit everything to follow him.”

willow crossley

In the garden, wearing a top by Brora x Willow Crossley and Ulla Johnson trousers

Simon Brown

Starting her new career from scratch, she began to visit the local brocantes in search of fabric, lace and ribbons, which she then used to trim baskets and to make covered notebooks that she sold at beach-front boutiques. Chronicling her crafts on a blog helped her secure a deal for her first lifestyle book. The second, Inspire: The Art of Living with Natureoffered tips for decorating your home with flora and fauna, which led to Crossley discovering her penchant for petals – a real “eureka moment”, as she puts it.

The more we bring nature into our lives, the better

She enrolled in a week-long intensive floristry course and was soon enlisted by her friend, the jeweler Hattie Rickards, to arrange the flowers for her wedding, which she did with her mother. This prompted a flurry of further requests, including from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who personally selected her to style the blooms for their marriage celebration at Frogmore House in 2018. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says of the commission. “It was a crossover of sheer terror, the hugest honor and pride at being chosen to do it – and it was May, so the flower choice at the time spoke for itself.” May, she explains, is her favorite month, when she can delight in lily-of-the-valley, tulips and foxgloves, as well as Solomon’s seal (“my reason for living three weeks of the year”).

Crossley has worked with brands including Dior, Ralph Lauren and Jo Malone, has created a homeware line and runs a series of floral workshops. Soon, she will launch her digital journal, The Seed, to celebrate the seasons and share ideas for gardening, interiors and style in monthly articles. She has also amassed more than 130,000 followers on Instagram, who eagerly await her regular tutorial videos. “I think people like them because they are accessible,” she says. “I struggled really badly with post-natal depression after having my boys, and the little things in nature made such a difference. I genuinely want to share that with people. The more we bring nature into our lives, the better. ”

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She records the videos from her home studio and is a natural in front of the camera, usually in a casual uniform of cropped jeans and cozy knits. As with her flower arrangements, she admits that, when it comes to fashion, “I can’t do tight and neat. I wouldn’t know how to. ” Also in her wardrobe are delicate dresses from Dôen, Loeffler Randall heels in a rainbow of colors, eveningwear by her friend Alex Gore Browne, jewelery from Pippa Small and bold two-piece trouser sets by La Double J (a favorite is a bright floral look trimmed with marabou feathers). Alongside these are “old-school” Isabel Marant designs found at Vestiaire Collective and jumpers from Brora, with which she has created a new collection. “I just like things to be very relaxed,” she says, leaning back into her chair. “To me, that is what’s beautiful.”

willow crossley

In the kitchen, wearing a Vita Kin top and Paul & Joe heels. Jeans, her own

Simon Brown

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