The City Escape in York - a renovated terraced home that’s a showcase for creatives
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 November 2020
A luxe home in York showcases the work of local artists and creatives – and is a very comfy place to stay
Beth Thornton calls it ‘The City Escape’. You can see why. From the outside it’s a polished-looking terraced house made from the lovely cream-coloured bricks that populate parts of the city of York.
Located in Bootham, it’s just a short walk to the heart of the city.
Step inside and you’re stopped in your stride by gorgeous star-design floor tiles which make their mark and set the style standard for the rest of this surprisingly cavernous home.
It wasn’t always so lovely laughs Beth. It was the second property she got her hands dirty with after deciding to build up a holiday rental property portfolio in 2018. She started work on City Escape after buying a house a few doors’ along the same road in Bootham in the north of York, and a cottage in Robin Hood’s Bay.
Beth isn’t new to property. With experience in estate agency and a chartered surveyor by training, property has been her life – but at a more commercial and corporate level. Now she combines both worlds as a host and a developer, of which there are definitely transferable skills – not least diplomacy.
Whilst she has a fine eye for the look of the place, her experience means that at the heart of a renovation is the backstage stuff – making sure all the bits that make a stay perfect such as heating, plumbing, electrics are solid, durable and very reliable.
The layout of the strong Victorian townhouse lends itself to an open plan sitting room and dining room – the latter has a lovely fireplace which continues the theme in the hallway with the starry tiles inset into the fire surround. There’s space for eight at the convivial table – the house can sleep up to eight people.
The dining area has French doors which lead to a neat suntrap courtyard – all you need for sundowner after a day on your feet exploring York.
The sitting room with its big bay window is calming and stylish with comfy leather sofas as well as side chairs in orange velvet which pack a punch of colour and personality.
Beth works with local manufacturers and creatives for the interiors – painted furniture adds individuality to rooms and the work of trusted local businesses is called on to ensure the curtains, blinds, cushions and covers are sturdy and lasting thanks to quality fabrics and attention to detail in their manufacture.
Throughout the house Beth is keen to champion the work of local artists with original art by Ali Watson and photography by Sarah Jane Evans. In her welcome book, she encourages people to visit the artist and has information about how to buy their work if they want to take a piece of City escape home with them.
‘It is about championing local experts and artists in the house in their different ways – using as many local people and companies as I can, that’s important’, she says.
‘It gives a sense of where people are – rather than all being ‘off the shelf’. This detail has ensured the Beth’s properties have five-star accreditation and they have great reviews and comments in the visitor books. No doubt chocs and flowers on arrival help too.
Other touches like DAB radios, nice crockery, lovely full-size toiletries, gorgeous lamps and cupboards full of games and dvds add to the feeling of luxe homeliness. Upstairs one of the rooms – she calls it the ‘tiger room’ because of the tiger print wallpaper – has a large sofa bed, Smart TV and Xbox so it can be a great snuggly kids’ chill-out area.
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The tiger wallpaper is a design by Charlotte Gainsford. Beth loves her prints and uses them in a twin bedroom which she’s given a softly Moroccan touch with muted turquoise colours, lamps inspired by the souks and a hand-painted chest. The headboards are made from soft woven Abraham Moon wool fabric.
‘We went on holiday to Morocco and I call this room ‘Moroccan with a northern twist’, she laughs.
In some bedrooms, rather than crowding them with bulky wardrobes she has added neat clothes rails which are easy if you arrive with a suit carrier – no need to unpack. ‘These are great for small spaces too’, she says.
On the ground floor, off the kitchen at the back of the house, there’s another bedroom with an ensuite - which is great for a retreat, perhaps for grandparents, within the big house.
This room is decorated in a mix of fresh blues with different textures and accessories with throws, cushions and lamps and with a backdrop of wallpaper by Celia Birtwell for Blendworth.
It’s next to the new modern kitchen with soft grey units and everything a guest could need, and from it there is a door leading into the courtyard garden.
Upstairs and a master bedroom at the front of the property has a striking and stylish décor - bold yellow and black wallpaper from Kruger by Emma J Shipley for Clarke & Clarke. Beth upholstered the navy headboard – she made all the headboards in the house.
Next to the bedroom is an immaculate family bathroom with a showstopping sink unit by Burlington contrasting against walls painted in Farrow & Ball’s new shade, Des Nimes. She also adds black makeup towels in all the bathrooms alongside the fluffy white bath and hand towels.
Says Beth: ‘You do have to think differently when it is a house people are staying in, because everything needs to stay in good condition. Things have to last – and be two or three times stronger than they would be in your own home.
‘You can push boundaries and go for more expensive brands to create a luxe feel.
‘But it is also about being brave and throwing different colour palettes together. I really wanted to make every bedroom feel different and like it had been created from scratch, rather than bought off the shelf.
‘By going to lots of different people, I’ve created a look that’s different; a bit city, a bit county - getting that balance.’
Beth’s Little Black Book
Builder: Dan Robson, DKR Developments, 07577 461552. dkrdevelopments.co.uk
Wallpaper and fabrics: In tiger bedroom/second sitting room, and twin bedroom - Charlotte Gaisford, based near Hexham, Northumberland. Charlottegaisford.co.uk
Super luxurious pom poms by Troy North, sourced by Charlotte Gaisford specifically for this project.
Wallpaper in blue downstairs bedroom: Celia Birtwell for Blendworth.
Wallpaper and fabric in master yellow bedroom: Kruger by Emma J Shipley for Clarke & Clarke. Bespoke navy headboard, valance, roman blind and curtains fabric by Harlequin.
Hand-painted drawers in twin room: Nikki Hardy. See her work on Facebook. For commissions: 07432 411795.
Hallway tiles: Monks Cross Tiles & Bathrooms
Refurbished chest of drawers in main bedroom and yellow bedroom: Ian Thompson
Hand-painted dresser in dining area: Paul Farrant Laird Farrant Furniture (Facebook): 07778 414709.
Handmade blinds and cushions – in twin room, yellow room and tiger room. Mark Harrison Blinds: Blindsbymarkharrison.co.uk 01904 630449.
Valance, roman blind and curtains in blue bedroom and valances in twin room. Pam Murray: Stitch & Sew 07809 684766.
Bathrooms: All products supplied by Easy Bathrooms, Birstall, Leeds. Sink and lighting in family bathroom: Burlington.
Sofas (sitting room, drift wood coffee table and lighting in sitting room and dining room – all by Coach House (based in Accrington), coachhouse.com.
Headboards – handmade by Beth
Original artwork – Ali Watson, York. firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography – Sarah Jane Evans, York. 07932 642729.
Bedlinen and towels: Richard Haworth, richardhaworth.co.uk – suppliers of top end bedlinen and towels to the industry.
Toiletries: Out of Eden, Cumbria. outofeden.co.uk
In the know: York
These are some of the places in the Bootham neighbourhood that Beth recommends to vistors staying at The City escape
The Minster Inn, Marygate.
Fancy pants: Marmadukes, St Peter’s Grove off Bootham; Roots, Marygate and for affordable family Family feasts: Mamma Mia ‘Italian – we think it’s the best pizza in Yorkshire!’ on Gillygate
Takeaway: Pizza and pasta takeaway/patisserie: Dough, Bootham
Crumbs Cupcakery, College Street
Mannions, Blake Street
Birdies Perch, Clifton.
Upside Down Design, Bootham