At Walnuts Farm, we are constantly refining the look of our rustic shoot location house both indoor and out on our five acre smallholding. We have been here now for nearly 10 years and thanks to our location agents like Sophie and Madeleine the number of photographic shoots we now host has grown year on year. Fashion, interiors and advertising clients are all regular visitors and include brands such as L’Oreal, John Lewis, White Stuff, Kew, Rowan, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco to name but a few. In fact, by becoming well known as an authentic model farm location our own family lifestyle has been serialised by Country Living Magazine. Nick and I, our children, and even our livestock have quite literally become performers on our own stage, with a second series ‘A Taste of the Good Life’ which has just come out in the April issue.
Before Christmas, we gave a series of talks at the Country Living Xmas Fair about how we set about renovating the property with the idea of Walnuts Farm being able to pay for itself. It was aptly titled ‘How to Live the Dream and Pay the Mortgage’ and it was really about showing alternative ways to generate an income in a rural environment.
I think our audience were quite interested to see how life started out here, especially when we showed them images of the dilapidated house and granary outbuilding and the overgrown bare field site behind the house.
This same area has now been transformed into our kitchen garden, complete with espaliered pear trees, box hedging and gravel paths so that there is plenty of interest and gravel paths for models and photographic crews to walk out on… And to help our clients, we always make sure that there are plenty of authentic props around to use, such as old wooden handled spades and forks, gardening hats and gloves, wooden trugs an old water bowser and beautiful white beehives with paint peeling, all of which are on hand to help create beautiful images.
Nick and I aim is to make things as easy as possible and help the day run as smoothly as it can because we know that our crews and models have often had a really early start and just getting all their work done in a limited time frame can be stressful. We aim to have a good stock of tame chickens, pigs and sheep that are happy around people, and both Bunny our shaggy lurcher and Blink our grey whippet are always very willing to model. And if required, Nick and I are in the background to answer questions and rustle up a delicious seasonal lunch from our homegrown produce.
The audience at our talks were also amused to hear how early Christmas comes to Walnuts Farm. We showed them the shot of our porch area ‘snowed up’ on a hot day in early August! Perhaps one of the reasons why Walnuts Farm works well as a shoot location house is that we have tried to create small almost theatrical sets both inside and outside the house. All the different areas are of a manageable small scale and no two look alike. They all have a distinctive personality.
Inside, I suppose our style is rural minimalism, and have a number of key utilitarian pieces like a cut-out of a suffolk punch horse and unfitted furniture that can be moved about to suit the clients needs. We have a dark room with a huge inglenook fireplace so you can go cosy country or light rooms for something more neutral. Lots of the pieces we own have been collected over the years from agricultural auctions and general sales so that nothing competes with the clients own product. Our own things just serve to create the feeling of rural simplicity, which is as I’m sure you can imagine difficult sometimes to pull off with especially with young children. Some people ask whether we really live here and we do. But you have to be disciplined and have plenty of large cupboards and trunks to throw all the kid’s stuff into on shoot days. We just hope they don’t peer inside and see all the chaos behind the calm!
For more information on Walnuts farm visit Light Locations and to follow the story of Life on Walnuts Farm visit Country Liviing