Getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life is always welcome. Lisa Preece hears how one designer transformed an ordinary home into a modern getaway tucked in the rolling hills of a National Park.
In the heart of the Lake District, an award-winning interior designer is giving waterside homes and sprawling mountain-top mansions a complete makeover. Sarah Jane Nielsen is known for creating incredible bespoke spaces for residential and commercial clients from their base in Staveley, Cumbria.
The region is known for being rustic and quintessentially English. Sarah and her team retain a classic aesthetic and blend it with contemporary trends, delivering designs that combine sophistication with practicality. Her approach is customer-focused with clients' lifestyles at the heart of her designs. For those with a busy lifestyle, their service extends beyond the design and into project management, personal shopping, and interior architecture.
Sarah and her team were recently invited to ‘Rosewood by the River’, a charming four-bedroomed timber chalet nestling amongst woodland on the banks of a tumbling river in the Lake District National Park. The owners, a young professional couple from London, wanted to renovate and update their Lakeland retreat. They wanted it to be a tranquil escape from their busy lives, but also have the potential to double up as an occasional holiday rental.
“We knew the discerning owners had high expectations,” confides Sarah. “They required a quality specification with a 5* finish to suit their lifestyles and to accommodate their love of beautiful, sculptural furniture pieces.
“A soft grey colour palette fitted well with the Scandinavia-meets-the-Lake-District style selected for this scheme and we found it was particularly effective with the shiplap that was an inherent feature of the chalet. By incorporating accent colours and natural textures and finishings throughout the house, we successfully added layers of warmth, resulting in a relaxed, welcoming and cosy getaway.”
The stunning views over woodland and the nearby river meant that the lounge already had a strong focal point.
“We were keen not to detract from the landscape beyond the windows and opted instead for a simple aesthetic,” explains Sarah. “A real log fireplace created a centre-piece in the seating area, fantastic for cosy winter evenings, whereas a glazed area to the rear was designed as a light and airy daytime retreat; a perfect place to sit and soak up the river view. Here we chose to keep the glazing uncovered, but on a practical note, we provided the option of tri-screen roller blinds to keep out the sun and protect the furnishings from bleaching.”
The team aimed to coordinate an eclectic collection of furnishings, dressing items and local artwork, as their clients requested. At the same time, they maintained a connection with the home’s Lakeland surroundings.
“From the moment we saw the large bay window overlooking the front garden, we knew this was the ideal spot for a window seat and wasted no time in commissioning an integral seat to run the full length of the area,” says Sarah. “A selection of high quality tweed, herringbone and linen fabrics were used collectively on all upholstery in the room, providing a super-smart tailored look, yet hardwearing and easy to maintain. As always, we enjoyed combining texture with accent colours and pattern - and in this case we couldn’t resist injecting some fun into the scheme with these monkey sofa cushions.”
Overhanging trees made the master bedroom feel quite dark, so maximising natural light was crucial in this room.
“We decided to hang curtains to keep clear of the windows, with blackout provided at night by discreet roller blinds,” Sarah reveals.
“Serene soft grey tones of ammonite were chosen for the walls and we dressed the room simply with Danish chairs and accent lighting. To keep things minimal and light, we used pattern in similar tones to dress the bed and linen headboard. And with its stunning location, we felt it important to maintain a connection between indoor and outdoor spaces so included a seating area looking out beyond the panoramic windows.”
Hall and Cloaks
No part of the house was left unturned by Sarah and her team. In the hallway, they developed a functional yet welcoming way to enter the house.
“As the property would be largely used for a comfortable retreat after long walks in the fells, we created a designated area for coats, muddy boots and hats,” says Sarah.
“With four bedrooms, the house had to accommodate up to eight people and effective storage was key to achieving a minimalist and uncluttered feel. All the cupboards were bespoke to make the most of the space available. A cushioned bench seat allowed us to add softness and to pick up the colour from the natural print wallpaper on the adjoining wall.
Low-maintenance natural timber flooring was used throughout the property, with the exception of two bedrooms, adding softness and interest in the form of rugs. To achieve a contemporary feel, they chose shutters to diffuse the natural light, and tactile curtain fabrics in some spaces.
The owners, who enjoy entertaining friends and family, wanted the kitchen to be a sociable hub and loved the idea of a multi-tasking dining area where guests could eat but also enjoy a leisurely recline on a comfy kitchen bench.
“We made the bench homely with an array of plump cushions of varied tones, patterns and stripes. Lemon was used to complement the greys and add a zest to the scheme. The Caravaggio pendant lights in three shades of grey along with recessed lighting in zones provide a great finishing touch to the scheme.”
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