The Lowther Project – Final Reveal

If you read my post 10 things you might not expect from an Interior Designer (and thank you if you did) you’ll appreciate just how diverse the role of the interior designer can be. And the multi-tasking doesn’t stop there. As a small business owner I’m also Head of IT, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Chief Finance Officer, Operations Manager, Receptionist and Office Cleaner, i.e. it’s just me. When I worked in London I had a team to support me, access to expert resources, and I’m embarrassed to admit it…… an assistant. I realise now that I was proper pampered. But I’m also proud of how I’ve mastered a whole bunch of new skills. Well all but one that is.

Interiors Styling & Photography

One of the most important things when you’re an interior designer is being able to show people your work. Your website is your shop front so you need lots of images, and they need to be good. This isn’t as simple as you would think and it takes time. The rooms you see in magazines have been styled within an inch of their life. The stylist will have planned in advance how tidy or casual the room should look. Every accessory will have been carefully chosen from a stash which won’t all make it into the photographs. They will have been placed and then moved 3 or 4 times before the stylist was happy with the result. Greenery is a given, but the stylist will have thought carefully about what kind. And they will have played and played and then played some more with the lighting until it was just right.

Bathroom with Victorian floor tiles, walk in shower and marble top washstand designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd
Bathroom I designed and styled for Real Homes magazine. Photograph by Jeremy Phillips.

Styling is an art which is why there is a whole industry behind it. But the greater skill in my view is the photography, which is where I fall down. Hard. Lighting regularly defeats me, but it’s also knowing which angle would be best, how wide to go on the perspectives, and how soft or sharp on the close ups. I’ve got a decent camera and editing software but it’s a bit ‘all the gear and no idea’. If I had the time I’d take a course. In fact maybe that should be my New Years resolution. Lets face it ‘lose a stone’ is getting a bit like Groundhog Day.

Which is why I’m chuffed to bits to see the holiday home I finished recently on the rental market with Cumbrian Cottages,. I’d taken some pics when it was finished but when I started editing I wasn’t happy with them and knew I would have to go back. But thankfully Cumbrian Cottages  have done a much better job as I’m about to show you. But first things first people, the before pics!

The Lowther Project – Before

Lowther Village conservation village in the Lowther Castle estate
The Crescent, Lowther Village

The property is grade II* listed and was built in the 1770’s for the workers of Lowther Castle. It’s like the tardis. From the outside it looks like an end terrace, but inside there are 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms a kitchen and living room spread over 3 floors.

The kitchen was very dated but big enough to make a comfortable kitchen-dining room.Interiors before and afters

The property had been heated by a boiler stove which we replaced with an electric boiler and a regular stove so that guests arriving late could have instant heating and hot water.
Interiors before and afters

On the ground floor was the only bathroom with an electric over bath shower.
Interiors before and afters

The stairs looked like something out of the ’70’s and not in a cool retro way.
Interiors before and afters

The master bedroom on the first floor was very stark.
Interiors before and afters

…and the single bedroom opposite wasn’t any cosier.
Interiors before and afters

On the lower ground floor was this store room fitted out with cheap kitchen cupboards.Interiors before and afters

….and a third bedroom with a fake stone wall and castle mural.Interiors before and aftersInteriors before and afters

The Plan

The owners initially said they wanted a traditional look that reflected the age of the property, but after sharing images with them via Houzz I could see that they also liked vintage and industrial elements and weren’t afraid of going dark when it came to wall colour.

Interiors before and afters
Moodboard for living room

To give you an idea of how long a project like this can take, the homeowners first got in touch in March and I started work 3 weeks later. We need listed building consent from the Lake District National Park planning office before any work could start. So I completed the detailed designs and submitted the application at the end of May. We got the approval at the end of July and work started early August and completed mid October.

So are you ready to see what it looks like now?

The Lowther Project – Final Reveal Cumbrian Cottages Holiday let in Lowther designed by Amelia Wilson interiors Ltd. Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

When you’re working to a budget it’s important to know where to spend and where to save. Using a mixture of new and secondhand furniture is a great way to save money, and old furniture is often better quality. It also adds character and makes a place look like it was furnished over a period of time.

Buying blinds from Blinds2Go and shopping around for lighting, cushions and throws meant we could splash out on Moon fabric to cover a footstool and lampshades.

Cumbrian Cottages Traditional living room with leather armchairs and moon fabric soft furnishings, Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

I’m particularly proud of what we achieved with the budget for the kitchen. The units are from Howdens and we bought all the appliances online. The granite worktops were supplied and fitted by Lakeland Granite. They had some surplus stock they wanted shot of so we got a good price.

Cumbrian Cottages. Granite worktops shaker kitchen period property Lowther Village. Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

We used black slate flooring throughout the ground floor and on the lower ground floor which has its own external door so that the property could be pet friendly.

I used track lighting for the ceiling pendant so it can be moved into the centre of the room when they extend the dining table to seat 6 – clever idea eh?

Cumbrian Cottages Shaker kitchen grey kitchen granite worktops track lighting metro tiles.Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

We installed a new shower room on the lower ground floor so we could take out the over bath shower and create a big family bathroom. One where you drink champagne in the bath of course….

The decorator did a lovely job treating the new softwood ledged and braced doors to make them look older.Cumbrian Cottages Back to wall freestanding bath victorian floor tiles metro wall tiles traditional bathroom. Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian CottagesCumbrian Cottages Vintage crates vintage bathroom accessories. Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

When you’re renovating a whole house there are a lot of moving parts to manage so if you can find a contractor that is multi-skilled it can really help. Almost all the work on this project was done by Ben Butler Kitchens & Bathrooms. The staircase was probably one of the simplest jobs on his very long list but it has made such a difference to how the property looks.Cumbrian Cottages Industrial pendant lighting Farrow & Ball Brinjal Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

The dark blue wall in the master bedroom is Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue which I liked so much I recently painted my own bedroom the same colour. It goes beautifully with the antique pine and the burnt orange.

Cumbrian Cottages Farrow and Ball Stiffkey Blue vintage bedroom vintage accessories Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian CottagesCumbrian Cottages Vintage bedroom furniture traditional bedroom Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

The twin bedroom is very compact. There isn’t enough ceiling height for bunk beds but we were able to get in two small singles with just enough space to walk between them.

We painted all the walls dark grey (Dulux Urban Obsession) and it really defines rather than crowds the space. Cumbrian Cottages Dulux urban obsession scandi style bedroom Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

Remember the store room with the old kitchen cupboards? Well look at it now. Just shows what you can do with a space with some careful planning.

The hexagon wall and floor tiles are from Topps Tiles and made me very unpopular with Ben. “I’ve done the best I can” was his parting shot that day. But I think they look pretty good.

Cumbrian Cottages Walk in shower room with hexagon wall and floor tiles and vintage accessories Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

The third bedroom on the lower ground floor also looks fabulous but you’ll just have to take my word for it. The lighting in there is really poor and it seems the professional photographer struggled with it too, so I don’t feel quite so inadequate. But I will take some more pics when I go back and show you just how fab it looks.

Before I finish I just wanted to show you the difference between photography for interiors and photography for holiday rentalsCumbrian Cottages Interiors before and afters

Image via Cumbrian Cottages

Yes cheese. I won’t lie, when I saw this pic on the Cumbrian Cottages site I did think how nice it would be to curl up in front of that log burner with a glass of red and some stinky cheese. But if I put this pic on my website you’d think I was bonkers.

So if you’re looking for an uber cosy holiday home to rent in the Lake District head over to the Cumbrian Cottages website and get it booked. There’s a good pub close by and it’s walking distance from Lowther Castle where they hold Kendal Calling every year, just think no campsite toilets…..