Next Level ~ Bath Life Magazine ~ Residence Feature
>> Old School - Modern Rustic Meets Industrial Warehouse <<
We were over the moon when Bath Life Magazine contacted us and asked if we would be part of their residence feature. It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to tell your story. It hasn’t all been plain sailing and we still have a way to go before the full renovation is complete, but for those of you who are not local I thought I would share our Q&As from this feature along with the photos taken, in the hope that it might inspire others on their renovation journey!
Words by Harriet Noble @bathlifemag
Photography by Chris Wakefield @cresc_photo
The images before you show a spacious home that oozes luxe; neutral palettes, double height ceilings and pops of greenery create a space that is both stylish and enviably zen. The Victorian school house was converted into two residential dwellings many years ago, but when Kate Lawley and her partner; Mike, purchased the site, which once formed the original school hall, the allocation of space into living and sleeping accommodation was closed off and impractical. So they stripped everything back and set about renovating, opting for open-plan living to modernise the property maintaining some of the original features.
What did the house look like when you bought it?
We have lived in our house for six months now, but have been renovating since August 2016. When we bought the house it was run down and tired and in need of roof repairs, upgrades to pipe work and electrics. Despite this, we fell in love with its charm and character, it’s original floorboards, exposed beams and high ceilings - not to mention the amazing views across the Bybrook Valley.
What was your vision for the décor?
Having moved from a Victorian terrace house, we were really excited about creating a space for open plan living. We are both passionate about design and interiors and knew we wanted to keep things quite simple with a mixture of reclaimed, natural and raw materials.
You travel a lot – has this inspired the way you furnished your house?
Absolutely, we are continually inspired by our travels. But, likewise, our passion for interiors inspires our travels. Often our travel destinations are based around interiors or hotels we want to experience and visit. We think it’s important to have objects that have a purpose or link to memories, rather than just ornaments for the sake of it.
Tulum definitely inspired us when we visited for our honeymoon; we fell in love with it’s natural materials and bohemian, laid back style. We got married in Spain (in the Andalusian hills), so this will always be close to our hearts. We love the contrast between the natural white wash stone walls, the colourful traditional tiles and exposed timber in old Spanish fincas. Morocco is also somewhere we love to go back to, the beautiful rustic but luxe riads are like nowhere else in the world.
You design and make jewellery at home, which you then sell on your online store Lawlita…
Yes, I feel very lucky to have a studio at home. When we bought the property, we stripped back the smallest bedroom, lifted up the carpet and took out the built in wardrobes, to reveal original flagstone flooring and slate shelving, which naturally lends itself to a workshop.
Who or what are your inspirations when it comes to style and décor?
Instagram is a key source, not only for style but we have been amazed at how many people (or renovation accounts) we have met on this platform. Even if their style is quite different from ours, it’s nice to be part of a community that encourages & supports each other. Having a renovation project is a way of life so it’s great to talk to people in similar situations!
Where did you source you furnishings from?
All of the flooring in our house is reclaimed, mostly refurbished from the house itself, but we have also finished areas off with flooring from local reclamation yards (Frome & Beechfield in Devizes). Even our stair treads were made from reclaimed timber, which once formed the floor of a local farmers grain store.
Some of our furnishings were bought from Graham & Green in Bath, including chairs, bar stools, cushions & rugs. We have found some gems including our vintage Spanish wine bottles in Old Bank Antiques Centre on London Road. We do also like Hay, this is where we sourced our main pendant light for the main living area, adding a touch of Scandi minimalism.
What are your favourite independent homeware shops in Bath?
In general we love a lot of the independent homeware stores on London Road and Walcott Street, including The Fig Store & The Verve. The Loft is also a place we often find ourselves going back to (it helps that you can stop for a coffee too!), along with Felix lighting opposite for endless lighting inspiration.
Is there any part of the house you are particularly proud of?
I would have to say the main living area. The double height ceiling gives it the wow factor, I know it’s early days but we appreciate this space every day. It really feels like the heart of our home, from here you can look up to the mezzanine entrance hall and bedroom and see how all of the spaces are connected. We are particularly proud of the open stair case and adjoining spindles that form a subtle divide for the open plan space, designed by my husband and made and fitted by my talented Dad. It feels so special to have so many things that have been hand crafted with love through out the house, but this particular piece forms the center and focal point of our home.
What was the most challenging room to design and why?
This is a tough one, but I’d have to say the entrance hall. This space was originally the kitchen and where we made a lot of architectural changes (we moved the front door to allow for a bathroom). In the end, we decided to extend a short standard window to one that is near floor to ceiling, really connecting the space to the outdoors but also making a feature in the form of a window seat. So it was no longer just a through way but an area that can be enjoyed no matter what the season. It was our favourite spot to watch the snow in February and I can’t wait until the summer time when we can have the double doors open and sit here enjoying the sunshine.
Tell us about a room or space in your home which makes you feel calm…
To be honest, most of the rooms make me feel calm. It was part of our design consideration, with a lot of white & neutrals throughout. It helps with all the rooms feeling so spacious.
The entrance hall is a beautiful space to sit and look out at the garden. The window seat or cocoon chair (which is soon to be a hanging chair), create a cosy and calm area to sit and drink a coffee and reflect. I like to think of this as our garden room, surrounded by greenery and natural materials.
The master bedroom is another space, which has a sense of serenity about it. From the moment you wake up you can see the views across the hills, which is so peaceful in its self. The natural textured walls and design simplicity create a fuss free environment.
Where does the fun happen in your house?
I would definitely say the kitchen. Everyone knows that people always gravitate to the kitchen - it’s the heart of the home! When you have open plan it makes for a more relaxed and sociable space. I can dance anywhere, but this tends to happen a lot in the kitchen galley.
What did you learn from designing your own home?
The biggest lesson was definitely compromise. Understanding that not everything is possible; not only due to budgets but also technically, depending on the building and structural constraints (damn you compromise!).
In terms of budgets, not everything is achievable, but lots of things are possible with clever thinking, time and consideration.
As for connection with outdoor space and the importance of natural light, we learnt that it is good to spend as much time in the space as possible before making any big decisions on room layouts, windows & function, to really make the most of light. To be able to do this, you need to know where the natural light falls throughout different times of the day.
Does the interior of your home reflect your personality? If so, how.
We tend to gravitate towards neutral, simple & effortless design, hopefully this reflects our laid back personalities?! We both enjoy being creative, whether its through jewellery making, cooking, blogging or photography and wanted to create a space that would inspire us every day.
Finally, what's the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your home?
We have been overwhelmed by the reaction we have had from our friends and family, but also the feedback on Instagram. The nicest thing that anyone has ever said is a tough one. My dad feeling proud of what we’ve achieved and being part of the renovation has to be up there. But hearing my 7 year old nephew say ‘its cool, can we have a sleep over here’ felt pretty special.