Picture the scene. Sizzling pancakes on the Aga, coffee pot on the go, views of the hilly Calderdale landscape through the window and the sound of sparrows chirping outside. The tableau is totally Insta-ready and, in the case of Sara Tasker’s posts, 180k followers agree.
With an iPhone full of interiors inspiration, home is where Sara’s heart is. Her signature romantic and understated style is apparent in every room. Tree branches are used as curtain poles, vintage suitcases sit atop white-painted wardrobes, there’s even a child’s swing tucked under the living-room staircase – Sara’s daughter’s favourite thing. A log pile is stacked and ready next to the exposed-stone chimney breast. For Sara, taking in a delivery of firewood marks the start of autumn.
THE FAMILY: Photographer, writer and Instagram guru Sara Tasker, 33, shares her 19th-century home in the Yorkshire Pennines with husband Rory and daughter Orla, four – the inspiration behind her blog Me & Orla – and their cat Grey. ‘Orla and I spend a lot of time at the living-room window looking out at the scenery,’ says Sara
Moving from Manchester to this pretty village not far from the historic town of Hebden Bridge three years ago, Sara has created a storybook home in the spirit of its craft-loving country surrounds. Drawn to the spectacular scenery as well as the original features of her three-storey property, Sara has combined her love for minimal Danish aesthetics with a Japanese-inspired wabi-sabi touch (a theory of beautiful imperfection). Here, her Me & Orla blog HQ, there is an appreciation for natural beauty and everything has a tale to tell. Original features are stripped back to bare wood, the beams are weathered and the floor is nicely scuffed.
To create her light and simple style, Sara began by painting everything white – even the racing-green Aga was updated with a white enamel front. ‘That’s my thing,’ she says. ‘I like the house to be a blank canvas so that everything else can stand out. Our painter was baffled by my love for white but I don’t find it too cold. Yorkshire houses tend to be dark and this is no exception. We have the stone, which is honey-ish, and there’s also lots of wood. The white has brought in the light and really opens up the space.’
One bonus of a white palette is that it is easy to imagine how a renovation will look. Summing up the ‘before’ pictures of her house as ‘bonkers’ – imagine a Winnie-the-Pooh theme and lots of 70s pine – Sara saw past the previous owner’s creativity and gave everything a purifying facelift: ‘I like things to be as simple as possible.’
‘Once you’ve lived with tons of white and relatively little clutter, there’s no looking back,’ Sara says. This is a sentiment shared by her husband Rory, who has embraced her way of doing things. ‘The day he decided to replace all his black audio equipment with sleek, minimal white versions, I knew he was a convert!’
The same could be said for Sara’s online tribe. Her engaging personality spiralled into an Insta-hit early on and the key to her social media success is largely down to having an enduring and recognisable style. ‘I’m quite single-minded and have always had a clear sense of what I like,’ Sara says. ‘I can remember being a teenager and wanting to decorate my bedroom to match a white-painted house that I’d seen a picture of – it was basically this style, even then.’
In the kitchen, everything – bar the worktops, floor and some of the beams – is painted in Sara’s favourite white. An original 1950s shop counter provides plenty of storage. For similar try Lovely & Co (lovelyandco.co.uk)
Autumn is a favourite season for Sara as the village is ‘all wood-smoky’ and the leaves on her virginia creeper turn red.
Sara began taking pictures for her Instagram account as an outlet for her creativity four years ago, just before Orla was born. It was intended as a photo-a-day journal to record all those precious moments in advance of her baby arriving. ‘Instagram has grown so quickly,’ says Sara. ‘When I started, it was quite new and a bit of a movement’
In the living room, Sara mixes handmade pieces with high-street and designer finds, such as the day bed by Loaf (loaf.com), sisal rug and shelves by Ikea (ikea.com) and seasonal foliage she has fashioned into a wreath. Sara says she is obsessed by a ‘nice piece of wood’, which is evident in the stack of logs, the floors and the majority of the furniture. Greys, whites and natural stone create a calming atmosphere, while the Jieldé lamp (hollowaysofludlow.com) adds a mid-century, industrial touch
The glass window panels and door in the en-suite bathroom on the top floor were installed by the previous owner and are a bit fancy for Sara’s taste – she’d prefer frosted star patterns from Brume (brume.co.uk). For a similar bath try Bathstore (bathstore.com)
At the moment, the family share a large, open-plan bedroom but aim to make it into two rooms. The antique desk was in the house when they moved in and this is where Sara sits to record her podcasts and is a favourite spot of Orla’s for colouring. ‘The drawers are filled with evidence of my stationery addiction – cards, notebooks, planners and paper’
The tepee was handmade by an Instagram friend of Sara’s, who also made a mini one for Orla’s dolls. For similar, try Myweeteepee (myweeteepee.co.uk). ‘The cheese plant was Rory’s and only had one leaf left when I moved in with him. I made it my mission to bring it back to health’
In Orla’s nest-like end of the bedroom, the rocking horse was a bargain from Asda, which Sara sanded and repainted. The stool is from Olive & The Fox (oliveandthefox.co.uk): ‘It originally had long legs but was too tall for all the places we wanted to use it so we cut it down’