Yorkshire Interiors - a Victorian-built farmhouse

PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 June 2014

The sitting room was extended as part of a single story extension built at the front of the house.  Sofas from Barker & Stonehouse; wall painted Farrow & Ball Porphyry Pink; fireplace from Focus Fireplaces; mirror and lamp £450, from Vintage Corner; rug from Calverts Carpets; check throws from the National Trust

The sitting room was extended as part of a single story extension built at the front of the house. Sofas from Barker & Stonehouse; wall painted Farrow & Ball Porphyry Pink; fireplace from Focus Fireplaces; mirror and lamp £450, from Vintage Corner; rug from Calverts Carpets; check throws from the National Trust

COPYRIGHT COLIN POOLE

A fascination for traditional narrow boat painting comes in handy for one homemaker who wanted to add a personal touch to decorating. Heather Dixon reports

A series of small rooms have been transformed and extended into a light, modern living area with doors leading onto a patio. Vintage record player and telephone and cushions from Vintage Corner; Fenton small sofa and Emmett chair found in a sale; rug from Calverts CarpetsA series of small rooms have been transformed and extended into a light, modern living area with doors leading onto a patio. Vintage record player and telephone and cushions from Vintage Corner; Fenton small sofa and Emmett chair found in a sale; rug from Calverts Carpets

It was just a hobby but now Christine Best’s interest in narrow boat art has taken on much more meaning. ‘I have always loved painting and drawing of all kinds and developed an interest in this particular style of art years ago,’ she says. ‘It’s just a hobby, but when we decided to decorate the house I thought it would be a good opportunity to decorate some of the furniture as well.’ But Christine’s love of re-using and re-inventing old furniture didn’t stop at a few tables and chairs. She and her husband Barry run a painting and decorating company and they used their combined skills to redesign the entire house, extending both front and back and decorating from top to bottom.

The transformation was particularly dramatic for Barry, who bought the late Victorian-built farmhouse and kept its mid-1970s furniture and décor. When Christine moved in 10 years ago she had no intention of making sweeping changes. ‘We were both widowed and we needed time to settle down and find our own way with the house,’ says Christine. ‘It had been a working farmhouse for many years and was a lovely property, but we started to make small changes which gradually developed into a something much bigger.’

At first Christine and Barry had to decide which furniture to keep and which to let go. ‘We were combining the contents of two homes so we had to make some tough decisions, but we gradually whittled it down, choosing the pieces that worked best for the house or which had sentimental value.’

They also wanted to shift the emphasis of the house by switching the sitting and dining rooms around and creating a sheltered south-facing patio to the front of the property. ‘We liked the idea of having a dining room linked to the garden so that when we had people round it would be easy to move from the dining table to the outside,’ says Christine.

The dining room is used more in summer when the patio doors are opened wide to create indoor-outdoor living. The table and chairs have been painted by Christine who also painted and decoupaged the small side table. Standard lamp from Vintage Corner; walls painted Farrow & Ball Savage Ground; gilded mirror from Vintage Corner; rug from Calverts CarpetsThe dining room is used more in summer when the patio doors are opened wide to create indoor-outdoor living. The table and chairs have been painted by Christine who also painted and decoupaged the small side table. Standard lamp from Vintage Corner; walls painted Farrow & Ball Savage Ground; gilded mirror from Vintage Corner; rug from Calverts Carpets

So in 2006 they built a small extension that doubled the size of the new sitting room and included a new front porch, replaced a window in the dining room with French doors, then built a pergola in the L-shape created by the extension. ‘It transformed the way we used the house and spurred us on to make more changes,’ says Christine. ‘We didn’t rush into anything. We agreed to change the kitchen and open it all up, but we spent a long time discussing the options and working out the best way to do it. We wanted to make sure we got it right first time.’

The original layout included a smaller kitchen, lobby, laundry room and small office. Much of it was wasted space so they decided to knock out an exterior wall, remove an internal kitchen wall, extend the back of the house and create an open plan breakfast kitchen with a light, spacious sitting area. They added bi-fold doors into a courtyard, raised the ceiling level in the kitchen to emphasise the sense of space, added Velux windows and created a utility and cloakroom. ‘The old kitchen was quite dated with dark units and beams,’ says Christine. ‘At first we just painted them to make the kitchen lighter, but the extension has really opened up the whole area and created a lovely living space which we use every day. We have gradually modernised the house without losing sight of the fact that it is still a period farmhouse.’

Between them, Christine and Barry have decorated every room, using accent wallpapers and bold colours to keep the warm, cosy atmosphere in the rooms they use mostly in the evening, and lighter shades in the daytime rooms. But when it comes to finding those extra bits and pieces that turn a house into a home, Christine relies on her sister, Louise, to find just the right things. ‘I love being able to create something without spending a lot of money, and painting furniture with decorative designs,’ says Christine, ‘but when it comes to finding unusual extras Louise, who runs a vintage shop, is the one I turn to for advice. We don’t always have the same taste, but she knows what I like and knows where to find it. With Barry’s decorating skills, my narrow boat designs and Louise’s eye for the unusual, we’ve created a home which is truly personal.’

The guest bedroom was decorated with the grandchildren in mind. ‘I wanted it to be light, pretty and practical,’ says Christine. Painted bedside tables from Vintage Corner; lamps from Laura Ashley; throw from Homebase and cushions from the The Range. The kidney shaped dressing table is reclaimed and was painted by Christine using her traditional narrow boat painting skills to create the decorative effects. She copied the decorative detail on the painted second hand chair and covered the seat with foam padding and a piece of remnant vintage materialThe guest bedroom was decorated with the grandchildren in mind. ‘I wanted it to be light, pretty and practical,’ says Christine. Painted bedside tables from Vintage Corner; lamps from Laura Ashley; throw from Homebase and cushions from the The Range. The kidney shaped dressing table is reclaimed and was painted by Christine using her traditional narrow boat painting skills to create the decorative effects. She copied the decorative detail on the painted second hand chair and covered the seat with foam padding and a piece of remnant vintage material

Contacts

Vintage Corner 01759 301925 / 07885 444308 thevintagecorner.co.uk

Focus Fireplaces 01904 400525 focusfireplacesyork.co.uk

Christine BestChristine Best

Best Painters and decorators 01347 810568

Paul Souter Cabinet Maker of Ampleforth 01439 788868

Barker & Stonehouse 0844 42042208 barkerandstonehouse.co.uk

National Trust nationaltrust.org.uk

Bluewater Bathrooms 01904 690069 bathroomshowroomsyork.co.uk

Dunelm 0845 165 6565 dunelm-mill.com

Calverts Carpets 01845 522967 calverts-carpets.co.uk

The Range 023 8077 5577 therange.co.uk

CB Furnishings 01609 772916 cbfurnishings.co.uk

Barkers Department Store 01609 776 667 barkers-northallerton.co.uk

Fashion Wallpaper 0115 822 9417 fashionwallpaper.co.uk

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