Yorkshire Interiors - Something old, Something new

Family heirlooms combined with modern ideas help to create an eclectic family home, reports Heather Dixon Photographs by Jeremy Phillips


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Lee and Becky Hopwood’s house never stops evolving. Since they bought the rambling Victorian home 12 years ago, they’ve refurbished it twice from top to bottom – quite an achievement considering they also have a young family and each run their own business. But Becky, who oversees most of the changes, claims it’s just a case of being laid back and organised. ‘You have to take things in your stride,’ she says. ‘I would rather wait and get something right than try to rush it and live with the mistakes.’

The first round of work began shortly after they bought the house, when it had dated decor, rising damp and dry rot in the cellar.

It took over two years to bring it up to date and turn it into a comfortable family home. ‘It had swirly patterned carpets, peach and anaglypta decor and flowered curtains,’ recalls Becky. ‘We filled dozens of skips with 20 years’ worth of unwanted rubbish.’

At this point they painted each room in period colours, choosing a traditional look which, they felt, worked with the style of the house. But six years later they decided to start again and introduce an edgy, modern style. ‘The challenge was trying to combine what we already had with new ideas,’ says Becky.

‘We bought quite a few large pieces of furniture with the property and then discovered all kinds of bits and pieces in the cellar which we cleaned, repaired and put to good use.’

The original kitchen housed a real mish-mash of furniture, including a Baby Belling table-top cooker, so as soon as they moved in they stripped everything out and installed B&Q base units, open shelves and free-standing furniture to create a practical but welcoming kitchen. When it came to the second round of renovations, Lee and Becky didn’t want to change the kitchen for change’s sake and have simply added modern free standing furniture to add to the informal look.

‘We didn’t want a sterile, working kitchen,’ said Becky. ‘It has to be a place where family and friends could come and feel relaxed, a place where they could sit around the table and talk and drink coffee and feel totally at home.’

Most of the recent refurbishment has focussed on the bedrooms – they have just completed four – and the conversion of a conservatory into a family room, as well as creating a summer house and office in the walled garden.

Modern wallpaper, neutral paint colours and new soft furnishings – including recovered sofas in the sitting room – have given the remaining rooms in the house a contemporary edge without compromising the impact of original features, such as the elegant Victorian tiled hallway, deep cornices and high ceilings.

‘Lee is the one with the artistic eye,’ says Becky. ‘We often browse around car boot sales and pick up something which I can’t imagine fitting anywhere, but Lee will find the perfect spot for it. I tend to have the courage of my convictions so, between us we work well as a team.’The team extends to Elysia and Daniel who love having the house full of guests.

‘They have grown up in a house which is always buzzing with life so they are quite used to sharing their home with other people,’ says Becky. ‘We’ve put a lot of time and effort into our place and so it’s wonderful to have people appreciate it.’

But with a house of its size, the improvements are ongoing. ‘We’ve just about got the house as we want it, although decorating it is like painting the Forth Bridge,’ adds Becky. ‘We’ll no sooner finish painting the last wall of the last room than it will all need doing again.’

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