Inside Charlotte Church’s Welsh mansion: ‘My ideas are not ordinary’

S002 - Charlotte Church outside Rhydoldog House

Why the singing star has fallen for a derelict Welsh mansion (Picture: Really UK/Rekha Garton)

The setting couldn’t be more idyllic – waterfalls, streams and 49 acres of rolling hills nestled in the breathtaking Elan Valley in rural Mid Wales.

The project, however, couldn’t have been more daunting: the complete renovation of Rhydoldog House, a £1.5million derelict mansion that was once the historic home of fashion icon, Laura Ashley.

Fortunately the new owner, opera singer-turned-pop star Charlotte Church, loves a risk. And even though she blew the £500,000 budget to restore the landmark building, Charlotte embraced this challenge with her trademark enthusiasm and humour.

‘It was never in my plan to take on a project like this – I was actually looking for a field so I could start a glamping business,’ she laughs. ‘I wanted something I could do with my life that I could earn a living from, that would align with my values – and didn’t necessarily mean I had to had to carry on doing any showbiz stuff.

‘But as soon as I saw Rhydoldog I absolutely fell madly in love. It lassoed me, hook, line and sinker!

‘The house was a total shell and every member of my family and every one of my friends thought I was mad, including my husband Johnny. But I’m a tenacious woman and a risk taker. I really enjoy pushing myself. And I think what we have created is completely unique.’

Vintage items

As many of the contents of the property as possible are second-hand (Picture: Supplied)

Sustainable materials

The mansion is designed to be sustainable and uses many materials developed from around its estate (Picture: Supplied)

It wasn’t just the house that captured Charlotte’s heart – it was the land. ‘It’s flanked by two incredible waterfalls and feels so magical, restorative and peaceful. When I started thinking about how I could create a wellness centre, a retreat that was affordable for everyone, suddenly everything fell into place.’

The mum of three was helped by her builder dad, James, as she juggled her singing commitments and the trials and tribulations of motherhood. And everything was captured on camera for her new show, Charlotte Church’s Dream Build.

So what is her interiors style? ‘I have very imaginative and set ideas about what I like and want, and it’s not very ordinary,’ she smiles. ‘I love vintage finds and as much as I can I have bought second-hand. Sustainability was also an important factor and we’ve made things from the wood in the barns, from fallen trees in the grounds and we’ve used lots of rustic wood and plants.

‘But I’ve always enjoyed lots of different interior styles, which I have picked up on my travels, so I’ve created each room to have its own unique look to create beautiful, unique and playful experiences.’

The ‘Mush Room’ is an homage to fungi and its importance as the great connector to all life on earth. ‘It’s super-classy and filled with beautiful neutral colours. It’s quite masculine with strong angular lines, vintage wall lights, brown leather chairs and large cacti. There are lots of illustrations of mushrooms on the wall.

Forest Spirits Room

The Forest Spirits room is full of neat bamboo touches (Picture: Supplied)

Wanderer Room

The Wanderer room is full of souvenirs from Charlotte’s travels (Picture: Supplied)

‘The Wanderer was the first room we completed. It was here I learned how to appreciate and use what we already had instead of buying new. We painted the ceilings and door frames black and furnished it with the beautiful bits and bobs that I’ve collected from all over the world, like my African masks and Peruvian faces.’

The sumptuous ‘Mystic’ room is filled with colourful, embellished saris, which Charlotte picked up in India. ‘They hang over the bed like a gorgeous canopy. It’s so decadent and romantic and there’s a balcony that looks out over the valley – it’s lush! The en suite has temple vibes and a glorious armoured wall.’ The ‘Forest Spirits’ room has a Japanese influence.

‘I love the aesthetic and Japan’s strong connection with the forests. There’s lots of matting in this room, a beautiful low bed, bamboo furniture and hand-dyed fabrics. And of course it looks out on to the woodland at the back of the house.’

The ‘Womb Room’ is a space that honours the various stages of womanhood. ‘The colours are quite fleshy and it makes you feel held, nurtured and cocooned. ‘There’s also a pink shower with an opening that could be likened to a very large and unusual-shaped vagina,’ she laughs.

And the ‘Moon Room’ celebrates stories and myths of goddesses from all over the world, honouring traditions and folklore. One of Charlotte’s favourite features of the house is the open-plan staircase.

Ep07 - Rhydoldog House

Church wants the home to be ‘a magical healing place for everyone’ (Picture: Supplied)

It was also important to honour the previous famous owner of the house and Charlotte worked with the Laura Ashley team to design a wallpaper in her honour, using a tiny motif from a vintage Laura Ashley dress. ‘We now have that wallpaper in the print room, which is where she used to print the fabrics in the 1960s.’

So as she prepares to open the doors to the public, is she happy with the results? ‘I love it! This isn’t some vanity project that I’m doing with a couple of extra million,’ she insists. ‘I’ve put my heart and soul into it.

‘Whilst it’s been risky and nerve-wracking making myself so vulnerable financially, I know it’s going to be a magical healing place for everyone. I didn’t want to make it another play place for the rich. That’s not to say that I don’t want them to come, I absolutely do. But it has to be affordable for everybody.

‘I’ve banged a lot of drums for different political issues and I just didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. So what I’m trying to do with my life now is to really make a difference.’

Charlotte Church’s Dream Build will premiere on Really tomorrow. The series will also be available to stream on Discovery+.

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