As we prepare for a fun-filled festive season of entertaining and guests, now's the perfect time to focus on our homes. Find inspiration in Debbie Aarons' 200-year-old Yorkshire cottage, which is filled with everything she loves, to create a fabulous interior.
Debbie Aarons was ‘blown away’ by the ‘Tardis-like’ interior when she first saw the 200-year-old three-bedroom detached stone-built cottage in North Yorkshire, which she now shares with David. ‘We loved the character in our home,’ she says. ‘There are very few straight walls or level floors, but we love the fact that it’s so individual.’
‘We saw it advertised in the evening paper, loved the look of it and immediately grabbed our coats and went to see it,’ she explains, ‘even though it was cold, dark and very late at night! It looked so lovely from the outside that the next day I knocked on the door and asked to look round. I couldn’t believe how big it was, or how quirky. Within the hour we were negotiating to buy it.'
The cottage, which is in a conservation area, had already been extended into an adjoining hay barn to create a bigger kitchen with a bedroom above, but the white-washed exterior was overgrown with ivy and the interior decor was not to Debbie’s taste. As soon as they moved in, the couple employed builders to remove the outer layer of brick and render and rebuild it, with insulation, to restore it to its original style. More recently new wooden sash windows were installed and the cottage was reroofed.
‘We survived the first winter with windows boarded over and scaffolding and plastic sheets over the house,’ says Debbie. ‘We spent three weeks with rubble and dust inside the house, which was a bit of a nightmare because we had to re-plaster and redecorate around the windows as well as do a major clean-up job afterwards.’
Debbie and David were in rented houses before buying the cottage in the village where David has lived most of his life. Their combined furniture, along with new additions, has created a cosy, eclectic look, which, says Debbie, makes the cottage a perfect winter home. ‘I am a real home bird and love my nest,’ she says. ‘I am very happy and comfortable here and there is an equal mix of both of us in the house. We both love being surrounded by things we like.’
Debbie is particularly fond of sayings, signs and little items that have personal meaning. ‘It’s these things which make a home your own,’ she says. ‘I never have a clear idea of the way a room will look – it just evolves as I bring home the little things that make me smile and give it that personal touch.’
Debbie’s top decorating tips
-Give old fashioned fitted wardrobes a face-lift by removing ornate beading, sanding where necessary, then painting the front with two coats of primer undercoat and two top coats of emulsion. Fit new handles to complete the inexpensive make-over
-Instead of putting away pretty scarves in a drawer, hang them on a row of pegs to create a colourful – and practical – display.
-Buy some garden crates and paint them in different colours to create colour-coded shoe tidies. It’s easy to stack them in the hallway or push them under a bench seat when you’re cleaning floors.
-Tightly group together mis-matched photo frames on a wall to create a personal montage.
Words adapted from: Heather Dixon
Photos by: Colin Poole
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Emily Peck, Editor
View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor