Yorkshire Interiors - a Victorian semi detached in Grewelthorpe


An image consultant used her skills to transform a tired Victorian semi into a modern home in the pretty village of Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire. Heather Dixon reports

Wendy Summerville pulled out all the stops to transform her house from a dark and dated semi into a home bursting with light and colour. ‘I had never renovated a house before so I was really excited by the prospect of creating something exactly as I wanted it,’ says Wendy.

‘I was down-sizing from a four-bedroom detached house in Berkshire and moving to Yorkshire to be close to my daughter, Sarah, and my two grandchildren. I loved the location of this house but it was very dated, so I knew there was plenty of scope to do something really special with it.’ Her priority was to extend the galley kitchen sideways and open it all up to make it into a modern home. ‘I wanted it to be a house in which every inch of space was used,’ she adds.

As soon as Wendy moved in she contacted an architect about the extension learn more about building in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. ‘I had quite a battle with the local council and it took three months of wrangling to finally get permission for the small extension, but I used that time to find a builder and start work on the inside of the house,’ says Wendy who moved into rented accommodation while the house was turned upside-down.

The builder took out walls inside to create an open plan living space downstairs as well as a utility room in what was part of the original kitchen. She used the stone sills from the original kitchen window to create steps in the courtyard garden, and the bricks from the wall that came out to build a garden wall, so nothing was wasted.

Once the plans were passed the local milkman helped to dig the foundations for the extension and put in the drain holes. The extension was built, the bi-fold doors were installed and heating laid under new engineered oak floors throughout the ground floor living area. ‘I began pulling wallpaper from he ceilings and all the plasterwork started coming off, so most of the rooms had to be re-plastered,’ adds Wendy. The whole house had new wiring and plumbing and was fully insulated. Wendy then asked the builder to create a hollow wall between the dining area and the sitting room so she could have slide-back doors which disappeared into the cavity when they were pulled back.

‘I was renting close by so it was very easy for me to be on site whenever I needed to be. You have to be around otherwise things get done that you don’t want and can’t be changed. It needs to be right first time.’ When it came to the kitchen Wendy needed help with the design, so she turned to Bedale-based Holme Designs. ‘They were fabulous,’ says Wendy.

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‘They worked with me to understand what I wanted from the kitchen, that is to say somewhere open, sociable and practical, and came up with a design which worked really well.’

Wendy was determined not to cut corners with the renovation, even though the budget started to run away with her. ‘It was quite scary, but once I had started I wanted to make sure everything was done to the highest quality. Most of the money went into the fabric of the building. I really wanted to keep the Victorian features, but create a light, modern home.’

Wendy decided she wouldn’t move in until the carpets were laid upstairs and everywhere was painted. ‘My neighbours were absolutely brilliant throughout and made sure I had a roof over my head in the final few weeks of the renovation. It was quite a big day when I finally moved in at the beginning of July.’

When it came to choosing the furniture and décor Wendy drew on years of experience as a colour and image consultant and tried to apply some of the same principles to the house as she did to people. Living in the countryside influenced her choice - neutral colours, with shades of green and brown, which would bring elements of the outside into the house.

‘As a colour consultant I discovered that my true colours are winter based, but I also love autumn colours which is probably why the house contains an element of both – cool blues for winter and warm reds, browns and yellow-based green for autumn.’

Downstairs is contemporary but Wendy wanted a traditional, classic look upstairs to go with the age of the house. The main bedroom is decorated in calm tones of coffee and cream for a restful atmosphere but the guest room is lighter and sunnier and very welcoming.

‘I love socialising and having friends to stay so it was important for me to have everything as I wanted it.’

This was one of the reasons Wendy made the bathroom bigger by making the third bedroom which she uses as an office, smaller and turning an airing cupboard into a shower.

‘My old furniture was always going to be too big for a small house so I sold a lot of it at auction before I moved, only keeping the bedroom furniture and the dining room shelf unit which was made by a friend. My lovely neighbours had stored the new furniture for me until I was able to move in.

‘The whole experience has been really exciting and I’ve loved being able to do exactly as I wanted with the house.

‘I’m really proud of the result. The best time was when I had a dinner party to thank everyone who had been involved and the builder – who had always thought I was a bit mad to create an open plan living space - sat down at the table and, with a big smile on his face, said: “Now I understand”.’

But Wendy has reached another crossroads in her life and has made the tough decision to move back South.

‘I shall be really sad to leave,’ says Wendy. ‘I’ve put so much into the house that it will be difficult to leave it behind, but it’s inspired me to do up another one. I think I’ve got the bug.


Holme Design Ltd 01677 424669 holmedesign.com

Carey & Fox 01977 608069

Steve Morris joiner/builder 01845 577361

Bathstore 08000 232323 bathstore.com

Dovetale Antique Pine Furniture015395 63164 dovetailantiquepine.co.uk

Wesley-Barrell 01423 531073 wesley-barrell.co.uk

Decor 01423 503285decorharrogate.co.uk

John Lewis 08456 049049 johnlewis.com

Home Furniture & Lighting, Darlington01325 481943homefurnitureandlighting.bttradespace.com

Serendipity, Leyburn 01969 622112

Topps Tiles 0800 0234703toppstiles.co.uk

Feather & Black 01243 380600 featherandblack.com

Barkers 01609 776667barkers-northallerton.co.uk

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