Inside the countryside home of a wellness guru

When DJ-turned-health guru Alana Macfarlane moved to the countryside, she wanted her house to reflect her passion for well-being

Alana Macfarlane in a Rixo dress and velvet chair and mirrors by Bear René Studio Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN

Alana Macfarlane is the first to admit that she’s far from the usual wellness influencer. ‘I’m a working-class Scottish girl and I was a DJ for most of my 20s,’ she laughs. ‘So I’m not the usual type of “health girl”.’ But when she and her twin sister Lisa, 32, took part in a guthealth study in 2015, it changed their lives.

‘We were the first twins in Europe to have our guts analysed, and we’ve learnt so much from it, such as the connection between our guts and mental health,’ says Alana. They founded The Gut Stuff, a campaigning information website and Instagram account, which has turned into their fulltime business. ‘We wanted to bring what we’d learnt to a wider audience – not just those typically interested in wellness.’

The kitchen features a custom built breakfast bar, which Alana uses as her ‘fermentation station’, plus stools from Bear René Studio and a Cox & Cox pendant  Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN
A vivid velvet sofa from Sofas & Stuff (Sofas and Stuff) contrasts with soft paintwork to bring energy to the living room Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN

Since Alana moved into her home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, last October, with her husband Luke and dog Pongo, she has incorporated her wellness principles into the house. There’s a kitchen bar, where she has set up a ‘fermentation station’, making kimchi, kombucha and sourdough starters. ‘Now that we all have more time at home, it’s a great time to start fermenting – it’s easy and it really improves gut health,’ she says.

Not that she’s entirely left her party days behind her. ‘There’s always tonic in the fridge for my gin and a bottle of red wine in the cupboard – after all, that’s good for gut health, too.’

A rich-blue wall (Benjamin Moore), and antique style chair and desk (Bear René Studio, as before) add a sophisticated tone to the home office.  Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN

Tell us more about why you got interested in wellness…

The ground-breaking study my sister and I were involved with found that even though we’ve got the same DNA, our guts have only about 30 to 40 per cent of the same gut microbiota. It showed that no one diet works for everybody; you have to work out what’s right for you.

Do you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, then?

These past few weeks, I’ve spent the most time at my fermentation station. I wanted to create an area dedicated to fermenting, because in our last flat, Luke used to complain when I had things everywhere. The breakfast bar is perfect. Fermenting is easy – it drives me mad when I see supermarkets selling sauerkraut for £6 a jar, when it costs hardly anything to make. We’re starting Fermenting Fridays on Instagram to encourage people to do it at home, too.

Do you miss entertaining?

Absolutely. Because we moved a bit out of London, it was important that our home was somewhere friends could stay, as well as family we have down from Scotland. We’re looking forward to being able to do that again.

Alana has attached a shelf and lamp to the side of the wardrobe next to the bed, a neat way to save on space Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN

What’s your morning routine?

I wake up early, sit in bed and have my probiotic and coffee. It gives me a chance to think and take things slowly, instead of just getting up and rushing. I have a mattress and pillows by the bedding brand Emma, which I love. Sleep is so important to our health, and I haven’t found anything comfier.

Do you have a space where you work out?

I do a lot of yoga, and I’ve started doing it in my bedroom, which is lovely. I do miss going to my hot yoga class, though the other day I cranked up the heating, but it wasn’t quite the same. 

A downstairs bathroom is papered with Christian Lacroix Maison de Jeu wallpaper (Designers Guild) Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN

You have lots of plants – do they make a difference to your well-being?

Definitely! Plants can really relax you, as well as filling out the room. I’ve got the bug now. Looking out over the fields behind our house is so beautiful. I underestimated how amazing being connected to nature makes you feel.

Where is your favourite spot in the house?

It’s the downstairs bathroom: it is small, but we’ve got a really bold Christian Lacroix wallpaper in there. At The Gut Stuff, we have a stool chart as one of our resources; I always joke that I should put that up too, so our visitors learn something while they’re sitting there.

Find out more about Lisa and Alana's gut-health venture, The Gut Stuff, here