Yorkshire Interiors - an 18th century cottage in West Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 16:14 27 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:47 20 February 2013
Victoria Beever's childhood dream came true when she moved into an 18th century cottage in West Yorkshire, reports Heather Dixon Photographs by Jeremy Phillips
Victoria Beever fell in love with a pretty Yorkshire cottage when she was a child visiting relatives nearby. We would drive past and I would imagine what it would be like to live there, she said. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that, one day, it would be hers.
Victoria and her partner Charles decided to buy it as their first home together. The decor was very dated and not to my taste, but the cottage felt very loved and welcoming, said Victoria. It was like walking round a house I had grown up in. I felt completely at home.
As luck would have it, it also had everything on Victorias wish-list, including a large country garden, a spacious utility room, a large kitchen fireplace with room for an Aga, as well as two sitting rooms and an office. It was perfect. Eight weeks later, the family moved in.
We decided to move into the house and do it up while we lived there, said Victoria. It was never going to be a short-term project and we still have rooms to finish, but the plan was always to let the house evolve gradually.
The first task was to take out the old kitchen, which was literally falling to pieces. Then Charles, with the much-needed help of his father and brother, installed a new Richard Ellis kitchen with Formica worktops.
We did the kitchen in two stages, said Victoria. We put in the units and left the original pine floorboards then two years ago we replaced the boards with solid oak and changed the Formica for granite. The old worktop went into the utility.
The bathroom also needed urgent attention. The corner bath and deep pile carpet were dated and the attic space was under-used. There was a shower, but it was through the downstairs cloakroom and occupied a corner of the kitchen, said Victoria. We wanted to incorporate a shower in the bathroom. So they replaced the old fittings to include a free standing bath and separate shower cubicle then laid a light laminate floor to make the room stylish and practical.
Charles did most of the work himself during evenings and weekends, but he drew the line at changing the layout of the house. The stone walls are so thick that we even struggled to hang pictures because the nails bent, said Victoria. It would have been virtually impossible to take walls out and we didnt want to spoil the character of the house, so most of the work we did was cosmetic.
They did, however, replace the dated sitting room fireplace with a stone surround and swapped radiators, which took up too much wall space, for underfloor heating. We like quite traditional furniture but we choose things which were not likely to date, said Victoria. We also have furniture which has been passed down the generations and have great sentimental value as well as soft furnishings which Ive made myself. Theres a mix of styles and influences but thats what we like about it. Its not a show home.
Two years ago they laid new carpets upstairs, took out built-in cupboards and installed a new oak banister. The entrance porch was retiled and painted to create a welcoming first impression and the main bedroom, which is also downstairs, was updated with a fresh coat of paint and new wardrobes.
We have saved thousands of pounds by doing and making a lot of things ourselves, said Victoria, but I also love luxurious things.
I love smaller luxuries, like really beautiful cushions or a beautiful glass vase, which can make something ordinary look really special. They hide a multitude of sins.
Victoria has developed her style over the years, often living in a room for a while before making changes.
The sitting room is north facing, but the light in there is lovely and soft, she said. I have tried to find colours and fabrics which complement that rather than impose ideas which are not right for that particular room.
She believes in using family heirlooms on a daily basis rather than hiding them away where they cant be enjoyed. Shes also built a rapport with local antiques dealers to find pieces which can be combined with modern furniture.
The look has definitely evolved, says Victoria. Its not a conventional house but we love its character and the lovely atmosphere.
From the moment I laid eyes on the house when I was a child, Ive wanted to live here. Now I cant imagine living anywhere else.
Isabella Stafford 08456 806841
Chelsea Textiles 020 7584 5544
Richard Ellis units and granite work surfaces 01484 514212
Priory Hardwood 07831 213864
The Dormy House 01264 365808
Aspace 0845 872 2400
Atlas Bathrooms 0161 953 4482