Interiors ideas that wowed us...
Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Since 2013 Katie and I have been working together shooting gorgeous homes all over the North that have been featured in a variety of national interiors magazines such as Homestyle, 25 Beautiful Homes, The Observer Magazine and many more.
As a photographer (Katie) and writer/stylist (me), we have around 40 years experience between us! (see our ‘About’ section for more about that).
We’ve been lucky enough to have been invited into hundreds of homes - usually leaving with a head full of ideas that we don’t have the time or money to copy in our own homes!
Some places we shoot are compact flats full of clever space saving ideas, others are modest semis and terraces, while others are grand country homes that most of us can only dream of living in. But whatever the size, each home is unique and usually throws up some new idea, clever trick or memorable tip that Katie and I take away with us.
Having built up quite a following on Instagram, we felt it was about time we started sharing all those interiors ideas with you.
To get the ball rolling, I’ve put together some of the most memorable and clever ideas that have caught our attention over the years.
A SOLUTION FOR A WINDOWLESS ROOM
When Katie photographed interior designer Cathy Dean’s barn conversion in East Marlish, Northumberland, we loved her idea for transforming a tiny windowless en suite and walk-in wardrobe into a stunning wet room.
‘I hated it so much I pulled down the wall when my husband was at work and he came home to find all our clothes in the living room,’ laughs Cathy. The game changer was installing a high oblong window between the en suite and bedroom, which gives countryside views while showering. ‘We also moved the door further back into the hallway to make the bedroom bigger and added a bank of wardrobes,’ she adds.
The double shower was inspired by a hotel stay. ‘My husband likes his lukewarm and I like mine scalding hot, so we can set our own temperatures,’ says Cathy.
HOW ABOUT THIS FOR A ROOM DIVIDER?
There were so many ideas to steal in this three-bedroom 1960s detached house in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, which is home to Instagram influencer Dominique Davis (AKA @allthatisshe). The living room had recently been painted in Farrow & Ball’s Stiffkey Blue which really sets off the quirky room divider made from tree trunks.
‘We were going to have sliding doors but ran out of money,’ says Dominique. ‘Then we got the idea after staying at a glamping site in Yorkshire called North Star Club, which had bed posts made from silver birch trees in the lodges.’
A QUIRKY BOOKCASE
For Pat and John McCann, who built a stunning home overlooking the sea in Cresswell, Northumberland, their biggest extravagance was the bespoke helical oak staircase in American Walnut by Humphrey Stairs in Leicester. It features a curved bookcase which makes the most of the space underneath.
'We’ve always admired the beauty of a sweeping staircase and they are quite space efficient,' says Pat. 'We needed something to support the weight of the staircase but it's practical too and great for storing my recipe books.’
WELCOME TO NARNIA
We loved Leanne Pearce’s idea for creating a hidden en suite behind sliding wardrobes. With eight bedrooms, Leanne and husband Gareth could easily afford to lose the single bedroom next door to their master bedroom and block up the old door into the landing.
‘The hidden entrance makes it feel like a secret little room,’ says Leanne, who runs Thought Foundation, a Gallery and Art Centre in Gateshead. ‘We could’ve had a conventional door and put wardrobes on either side, but this way we gain extra storage above. And when the doors are closed you wouldn’t know the room is there, so it creates a wow factor.’
A STUNNING LIBRARY WALL
Since buying a converted barn in Broomley, Northumberland, Lea Eccleston has worked hard to add character to the interior. One of her favourite features is a mini library in the sitting room created by joiner Elliot Coyle.
‘Before it felt like sitting in a long corridor,’ explains Lea. ‘But now it’s a more sociable arrangement with two sofas facing each other and the library wall painted in Honed Slate by Neptune. I’ve got the grown up sitting room I’ve always dreamed of.’
TILES OR WALLPAPER
It’s hard to believe that this stunning dining room was once a cafe within the village post office and shop in Helperby, North Yorkshire. Katie Allan, one half of interior deisgn duo houseofjoan.co.uk, is the brains behind the design and I adored her feature wall. It looks like tiles but is in fact a tile effect wallpaper by Smink Things, inspired by Lowry’s paintings of industrial northern architecture.
‘We restored the super wide floorboards in here,’ says Katie. ‘And my husband Jamie re-used the old sorting office table legs to make a really long dining table. This is where all the fun happens, and every party ends up.’
IS THAT REALLY AN EXTRACTOR FAN?
When it comes to open-plan living, it’s vital that the living and kitchen spaces blend well together so a kitchen that doesn’t look too ‘kitcheny’ is a must.
For knitwear lecturer and freelance designer, Elizabeth Wiggins, a gorgeous extractor fan which everyone mistakes for a light proved to be a wise investment.
Interior designer Cathy Dean came up with the idea for Elizabeth’s Victorian two bedroom apartment in Jesmond, Newcastle, after knocking down the wall between the kitchen and living room to allow light to flood in through the beautiful bay window. The ex-display Elica extractor was reduced from £1,000 to £422 and helps marry the kitchen and living spaces together perfectly.
A MASTER SUITE TO BE PROUD OF.
Paul and Shona Warnock demolished a 1970s bungalow in Hartburn Village, Stockton-on-Tees in order to build a new home after returning from the Caribbean. We particularly adored their indulgent top floor suite with an extra wide opening which allows light to flood from the bathroom into the bedroom.
The en suite features a central shower, bath with a view and z-clad slate wall, while the bedroom has a feature wall of Harlequin Sumi wallpaper to add wow factor.
Paul was keen to make the space as light and bright as possible, installing remote controlled LED lights across the centre of both ceilings. They also opted for colour changing mood lighting behind the bath, toilet and sink, as well as circular lights usually used on decking.
‘I love the feeling of space and the openness, plus the shower is really powerful,’ he says. ‘I may have gone a bit overboard with all the lights - it’s a bit Star Trek, but I love it!’
IS THIS THE BEST BATHROOM IDEA EVER?
You’ve got to have a bit of fun with your decor, so when we popped to the loo in Sammy Patterson’s new build home in Leeds, we couldn’t help but smile as she’s installed a quirky wine rack in there. It was £30 from Rustic Retro Furniture on Etsy and makes a change from the usual toilet humour books to entertain guests.