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Peek inside a floral designer's gorgeous converted rural church

Country charm and pretty plants reach heavenly heights in Alison Westlake's home as she gets ready for the holidays.
By Andrea Mills
Peek inside a floral designer's gorgeous converted rural church

Coriander Girl Alison Westlake home

Close-knit family

Alison Westlake’s life would make a great romantic comedy: Struggling actress meets handsome barista in local café. Romance blossoms, but acting career falters. Fortunately, her dream of opening a quaint, magical flower shop is realized in 2009 and results in accolades and success. Rural wedding follows, and they all live happily ever after. 

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, but even Alison would agree that she is living a charmed life. The moment she laid eyes on this 1887 converted church in pastoral Ontario just two roads over from where she grew up, she knew it was meant to be. Loving the pale, winter white vintage style of her Toronto-based floral studio, Coriander Girl, Alison adapted the same decor esthetic for the home she bought with her husband, Tyler. The soaring white walls of the great room are balanced by rustic, worn wood floors — which have marks where the pews used to be — and one-of-a-kind furniture pieces salvaged from local antique stores. The kitchen features a deep farmhouse sink and a beautifully panelled harvest island. The peaked windows are dotted with pastel Mason jars and vintage glass Alison collects. And, of course, her love of plants is evident throughout the entire space, from bouquets that look like they were plucked from farm roads to seasonal evergreens planted in galvanized pots. 

Peek inside a floral designer's gorgeous converted rural churchPhoto by Sian Richards

Charming idea

A simple bunch of cedar tied with twine is an updated country take on a garland.

ALISON WESTLAKE staircase with Christmas decorationPhoto by Sian Richards

Repurposed cans

Re-think vases – Alison uses a variety of old jars and tins for plants and arrangements.

ALISON WESTLAKE plants in cans decorationPhoto by Sian Richards

Add interest

A converted church means massive ceiling height. Alison filled the vertical space with an old orchard ladder – a perfect spot for keeping throws and pretty table linens.

ALISON WESTLAKE xmas home ladder dining arch window Coriander GirlPhoto by Sian Richards

Cardboard appeal

You don’t need a tree to make a display of gifts. Choose uniform wrapping — simple cardboard boxes with twine ribbon add a natural touch, a perfect fit with Alison’s pretty vintage pieces. Get more:

Alison Westlake table with Christmas presents wire basketPhoto by Sian Richards

Storage solutions

Vintage cabinets on either side of an arched window create extra storage and display space for dishes, teacups and a pitcher collection.

ALISON WESTLAKE holiday table decoration dining roomPhoto by Sian Richards

Add a wreath

Let natural light be the star of a fresh white kitchen. The myrtle wreath in the window is a subtle nod to the season.

ALISON WESTLAKE kitchen island stoolsPhoto by Sian Richards

Personalize it

Alison’s all-white palette lets her add personality with accessories like cushions and objets.

Alison Westlake living room white sofa chair and vintage cabinetPhoto by Sian Richards

Choose a living tree

Using a potted live evergreen is the latest trend in Christmas trees. Simply plant it in a sturdy container, like a steel bucket, and water every day. Once the festivities are over and spring rolls around, transplant the tree into your garden. 

Tree, Cannon.

Peek inside a floral designer's gorgeous converted rural churchPhoto by Sian Richards

Prop a ladder against a wall (looks great and comes in handy!)

Twenty-foot ceilings demand big pieces of furniture! An old orchard ladder is perfect for hanging throws and extra blankets. A long harvest table, weathered bench and painted wood chairs add to the shabby-chic look. 

Table, Funk and Gruven. Bench, Qwac.

Peek inside a floral designer's gorgeous converted rural churchPhoto by Sian Richards

Combine your kitchen and laundry

Decorating one large open room can have its challenges! Make the most of your space by creating areas that multi-task, like this kitchen that also functions as a laundry. An old oak storekeeper’s desk and white-painted wood floors further help to mark the kitchen zone off from the rest of the space. Peaked windows flood the room with sunlight during the day, while old schoolhouse fixtures provide ambience at night.  

Island, Black Pug DMK. Stools, Funk and Gruven. Lights, Legacy Vintage.

Peek inside a floral designer's gorgeous converted rural churchPhoto by Sian Richards

Bring Christmas cheer into your bedroom

A mixture of indoor plants updated with festive ornaments and pretty bouquets featuring evergreens, winter berries and thistles add a holiday element to the bedroom. 

Bedding, Feather factory. Art, Addison's Inc. Bench, Mrs. Shuizenga.

Peek inside a floral designer's gorgeous converted rural churchPhoto by Sian Richards


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