Lancashire Interiors - a former canal-worker’s cottage in Lathom

The living room

The living room - Credit: Archant

He could fly before he could drive, he plays the piano professionally and now David Price is a property developer. And he’s only 26, writes Martin Pilkington

Open plan kitchen and dining area

Open plan kitchen and dining area - Credit: Archant

The moment you step inside David Price’s canalside property you suspect this is someone who sees and does things differently. After a tour and a talk you’re convinced of it.

For starters, there’s the fact that he gained his pilot’s licence before he could drive – and he passed his driving test when he was 17. ‘I joined the Air Cadets at 13. I was hoping to get one of three flying scholarships - I got all three. And when I qualified as a pilot I was offered a role training others, something that I still do on a voluntary basis.’ At just 19 he became the youngest flying instructor in the country. Oh, and he plays piano professionally.

Now at the grand old age of 26, he is flying high in another sphere. This former canal-worker’s cottage in Lathom near Ormskirk is his third development project, financed from previous work and with a mortgage. The venture is paying off. A recent report shows that since David bought the house at auction last December its transformation has yielded an increase in value of more than £100,000.

But money is clearly not his prime motivator. ‘I’ve wanted to do this since school. For me the biggest risk in life is having a job you hate for 40 years. If you do something for the passion first of all then, maybe, the money will follow.’

Looking down from the top of the stairs

Looking down from the top of the stairs - Credit: Archant

Ally that passion – and a lot of hard work - to a very personal vision and the result is a stunning interior. ‘As soon as I walked in I could see pretty much what it would look like finished,’ says David, born in Leyland and schooled in Croston.

His aim is what he terms ‘apposite design’, which for this 1860s building means nods towards its heritage – making the most of original beams, and retaining fireplaces in all four main rooms. ‘It’s nice to think about the people here before you, and not to try to remove all traces of them,’ he says. New elements add to that feel, like using hefty sliding doors with something of the warehouse about them upstairs, and some industrial-style lighting.

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Apposite design here also entails maximising space in the cosy cottage. There is under-floor heating thus no bulky radiators; in the ‘inside-out’ kitchen-diner amenities like the washer and boiler are built into cupboards under the stairs and a moulded concrete counter serves as both worktop, with sink, hob and oven built in, and as dining table. ‘I wanted the kitchen to be a social space and a focal point,’ he says.

He’s keen to praise those who worked with him on the project, like Cameron Crook who did the main building work. And Barry Jackson, a good friend and someone whose belief in David has been important to him, who helped with that unique concrete counter. Barry and David built the supporting steelwork and wooden shuttering, and polished the surface after the one-piece moulding had been given three weeks to set. It would pass for marble now. Very expensive marble.

The main bedroom

The main bedroom - Credit: Archant

Finding skilled craftsmen with a can-do attitude has allowed David to include features that bought retail would have broken the budget. ‘I wanted a particular style of stone sink for the bathroom, explained it to stone-mason Simon Ormsby, and he made exactly what I’d wanted.’ Furniture-maker James Berry did likewise with the benches either side of the kitchen worktop-table.

David has managed to combine whimsy with practicality in certain elements, like the main bedroom where the previous loft space has become a mezzanine floor. ‘In my head I’m still about 12. The mezzanine bedroom is like an adult bunk-bed, and the Japanese bath is fun.’ There’s a quirky – and original - touch outside too. The corner of the cottage near the towpath is bowed in to accommodate passing carts.

In his flying tuition work David enjoys helping people from 13 to 70 years do something they’ve dreamt of, and he hopes that seeing what he has achieved by treading an unconventional path could help others of his own age group. ‘People have their own dreams and maybe most get that taken away, knocked out of them or persuaded that it’s not worth the risk... you get pushed into the norm. People do themselves down, don’t see their own worth, their ideas as valid. I’d love for even one person who sees this to have it act as a tiny catalyst to make them confident enough to give it a go.’

What he does may not be easy – his website name hints at the qualities needed to succeed - but it is rewarding. ‘I genuinely sometimes still think I’m skiving because I love doing this, even after a 13-hour day doing hard physical work it’s the creative buzz that you feel. It’s like I’m cheating the system because there’s that weird thing that you’re only working if you don’t like it...’

David Price

David Price - Credit: Archant

So he’s young, good looking, a pilot, professional musician and a property developer several steps along his way to a first million. There is one fly in the ointment, however. ‘The problem is going to be the wrench of selling the place,’ he says. ‘I’ve fallen in love with the building and the area which is a bit of countryside heaven - and with a pub just across the canal footbridge...’

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