BryncynA Welsh Victorian farmhouse pays homage to Californian style
I knew from the moment I spotted the unexpected wall of glass overlooking the dramatic Preseli Mountains that the visit would be memorable.
I scrolled through the photos of Bryncyn online and frowned, double checking its location. I was slightly sceptical that such a contemporary property of concrete and glass could find itself in rural west Wales. Reminiscent of Case Study Houses in California, this holiday ‘cottage’ deviates significantly from the area’s charmingly ramshackle country homes. Bryncyn, located on the outskirts of a hamlet in Carmarthenshire, is a handsome, minimalist hideout that capitalises on clean lines, precise angles and poise. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
When planning our trip to the Pembrokeshire Coast, I wanted to find a place to stay that would add to the overall holiday experience – the kind of accommodation that could be a destination in its own right. Being fully aware that this break could easily turn into one of those languid weekend getaways where time is spent indoors and outdoors in equal measure, the chosen dwelling would need to play a bigger role than usual. Bryncyn is an ideal base for such a vacation; I knew from the moment I spotted the unexpected wall of glass overlooking the dramatic Preseli Mountains that the visit would be memorable.
Bryncyn is most instantly striking for, of course, its modernist architectural styling. It’s a conversion that also allows the old features to coexist happily with the new, which gives this Welsh Victorian farmhouse further depth. I took a special liking to a wall of traditional stone combined with textured concrete. Owner Dorian Bowen explains, “I craved for a modern, energy efficient building that would signal a radical departure from previous, traditional cottage renovation.” The result is a space where enough has been preserved of the building’s original character, but with ample modernity introduced to balance anything too quaint or old-timey. You’re constantly exposed to the juxtaposition of tradition and innovation here: the whitewashed Victorian front façade leads you into a simple, unadorned sitting room, which features low slung Barcelona chairs alongside an antique cwpwrdd deuddarn – a Welsh oak sideboard.
Upstairs, in the light and airy beamed bedroom, I wrapped myself in soft, woollen blankets, while playing with rustic ceramics, and eyeing the stylish hanging lights complete with exposed cherry red cables. These contemporary creature comforts pair rather nicely with the conventional tiny windows and timber floors, I thought to myself.
The showpiece of Bryncyn, however, is on the level below, in the open kitchen and dining area that pay homage to concrete and glass. A former cowshed, this room now enjoys exposed concrete walls that resemble rough planks of wood, as well as modern angular white furnishings, including a long dining table matched with plastic moulded chairs. In the rear of the room is that wall made entirely of glass that opens onto the terrace. There is something tangibly reminiscent of the vast entrances of Apple stores in the architect’s generous application of the material. While there is an undeniably Californian and contemporary air about this place, you need only look outside to remember where you are. I’ll be returning to Bryncyn this summer for round two.