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…..

The Georgian Bedroom – A Period Drama

The owner of this Georgian bedroom, well part owner, is a writer of romantic fiction. Which is compelling me to make my writing style a little more poetic than usual. We finished her master bedroom last year and now have some very dramatic before and afters to show you. So brace yourself for a slightly steamy ‘tongue in cheek’ literary themed post. Hell I might even throw in a few phrases and adjectives more suited to a Mills & Boon novel. Well why not it’s got your interest hasn’t it?

The Backstory

Flashback to the master bedroom of a beautiful old Georgian farm cottage in the wilds of West Cumbria. It was a little neglected, and (due to lack of storage space) more dishevelled than the farmers daughter after a tumble in the hay with the young farm hand. Quite frankly a tall dark handsome stranger could have lurked mysteriously in a corner for quite some time before being noticed such was the homeowners need for hanging space…..

Our heroine a romance novelist and hardworking mother of two longed for a beautiful bedroom. One without woodchip wallpaper and worn carpet, and perhaps, dare she dream fitted wardrobes and even some decent lighting. But where to start?

Her husband, a public servant with smouldering good looks (you’re very welcome Ian), also dreamt of a place with plentiful hanging space. But he had his hands full with other important stuff. And so the days came and went and their bedroom remained cluttered.

Then one day our heroine was driving down a winding country lane. The rain pounded against the windows and the wind buffeted her little car from side to side between the hedgerows. As she turned into the village she heard an advert on the radio for Amelia Wilson, an interior designer and project manager. Misty eyed she looked into the rear view mirror and clutching her ample bosom with one hand (remember she’s driving) she asked herself, could this be the answer to my prayers? Is there really a person out there who could turn my dreams into reality and organise all the work? Quickly, before she rear ended the tractor in front of her, our heroine returned her eyes to the road (and her hand to the wheel) and drove home, where she immediately sat down and googled Amelia.

Well that is after she had unpacked the shopping, made tea, bathed and put the kids to bed and done two loads of washing.

The plot

Fast forward two weeks and our heroine and designer meet and the designer goes away to form a plan for a Georgian bedroom. Finding inspiration in the heroines treasured bedspread she decides on a colour scheme of sage green and ivory with accents of royal blue. There would be a mixture of antique and newer pieces of furniture, with some subtle florals and vintage accessories. The focal point however would be the new fitted wardrobes, wardrobes fit for a king. The designer returns and shows the plan to the heroine and her dashing husband. They make one child friendly modification (no cloches….), and remove the botanical prints in order to appease the dashing husband, and then agree to get started.

They all agreed that a Georgian bedroom required Georgian style wardrobes…. Enter our knight in shining armour Kevin with his trusty squire Dean. Together in a very manly way with lots of sweat and power tools they rip out the existing cupboard and install custom made wall to wall wardrobes with Georgian style panelled doors and ornate plinths and cornice. The wardrobes are broken up by two large bookcases providing a home for our heroines many books, and have cleverly concealed storage space behind them. Perfect for hiding the childrens Christmas presents.

And they didn’t stop there, Kevin also made Georgian style panels to match the wardrobe doors for either side of the window, replacing what would have been there originally, and restrung the sash windows so they glided open once more.

Cue dramatic music as Sandy the electrician arrives on the scene…..Disaster has struck. The antique bag chandelier which has come all the way from France needs re-wiring, despite the Etsy seller telling the designer that it would be wired for use in the UK. But Sandy is also a knight in shining armour and just rewires it. Problem solved.

But the plot thickens, Kevin and Sandy aren’t the only knights competing for ‘best tradesman in West Cumbria’. Enter Michael Fulton Professional Painter & Decorator. He comes up with an ingenious solution to the woodchip in our heroines bedroom. He sees no need to strip *pause for effect* He avoids costly plastering and copious amounts of dust by lining the walls with thick lining paper. Leaving the walls as smooth as a young maidens skin and ready for painting. And paint them he does, along with the ceiling, wardrobes, windows and the antique pine coloured bed.

While all this is happening the heroines new bedroom chair arrives. The box it comes in is so big the dashing husband rolls up his sleeves and with the aid of scissors and packing tape turns it into a playhouse, earning himself and our heroine a much needed break while their young children entertain themselves with their new toy.

Last to arrive on the scene are the fitters from Tony Roberts Carpets Direct. After much sucking of teeth at the weight of the enormous carpet and the bed which could not be moved out of the bedroom they lay the new underlay and carpet.

Then in a last minute twist Kevin has to return to fit the curtain pole and hang the mirror. For as dashing as our heroines husband is he does not posses the tools (nor the patience I suspect) to get screws to stay in the thick stone walls of their Georgian cottage. So Kevin arrives, he fits, he hangs, and he leaves and suddenly the house is quiet……

The Finale

The curtains have been hung, the lamps lit, all their clothes have been unpacked and put away in the new wardrobes, and books have been placed on the bookshelves. The Georgian bedroom is finished.

And it is beautiful.

The wall colour is Muted Sage by Dulux. We used Dulux Endurance which is scrubbable so it doesn’t matter if our heroines little cherubs draw on the walls…. The woodwork has been painted an off-white called Wild Mushroom by Valspar. Both colours work beautifully with our heroines treasured bedspread.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The new wardrobes are a triumph. The door handles were salvaged from their old dresser before it was taken away and inside there is hanging space galore, shelves for folded items and storage baskets for smalls. Full length mirrors line the centre doors and as our heroine has never had a full length mirror in this room she is beside herself with joy.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

They have a new antique bedding box, sourced from an Aladdin’s cave of antique and vintage treasure in Manchester and just given a good clean and polish.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The newly re-wired antique bag chandelier casts sparkly light all over the bedroom and adds a touch of glamour.

Antique bag chandelier in Georgian bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

….and they have a new pair of antique brass touch lamps on their nightstands. Apparently touch lights are a godsend when a child shouts for you in the middle of the night – no fumbling around looking for the switch. Notice how the radiator has been painted to blend in to the walls?

And yes I know the bedsides don’t match. Where’s the rule that says they need to? The husband liked his old one and I sourced a secondhand one for our heroine. Everyone’s happy.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The utterly gorgeous blue velvet chair is the only ‘new’ piece of furniture and is from Atkin & Thyme. Unfortunately the cats are fans too… The floor lamp and side table are more of my antique finds and the green floral curtains are a Dunelm bargain which we had shortened. Just look at that lovely new panelling around the windows, you’d think it was original.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

They already had the antique bureau, and the vintage mirror and wash bowl and pitcher set were charity shop finds. But I’ll let you in to a little styling secret. The bowl and pitcher set used to live on my bedroom windowsill and only came along as a prop for the photographs, but the heroine fell in love with them so I left them behind. I’m good like that.

Georgian bedroom with antique furniture and vintage accessories designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So our story has come to an end and all that is left to tell you is that our heroine and her dashing husband love their beautiful new boudoir, with its relaxing colour scheme, bountiful storage, and acres of clutter free floor space. The only ones pouting now are the cats as I’ve taken away all their hiding places. But other than that they all lived happily ever after.

The End.