Art of living

  • Printmaker Ali Appleby’s love of art, colour and collecting has helped her transform her terrace house into a cosy, vibrant home. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Simon Hulme.
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Money can’t buy you love, we all know that. It can’t buy you style either, which can be a comforting thought for those of us forced to decorate on a budget.

Printmaker Ali Appleby’s terrace house in Wakefield is a prime example of how to create a vibrant and interesting interior without spending a fortune. Her eye for pattern and colour has helped, along with her passion for collecting.

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

“My husband Darren is an actor and I’m an artist so earnings can be erratic. We definitely don’t have a lot of money to spend on the house,” says Ali.

The couple bought the property 13 years ago after realising that the amount they paid in rent was enough to cover mortgage repayments.

“We looked at various properties but we knew this place was the one immediately. It’s a great spot within walking distance of the town centre and, although it looks small from the outside, it’s on three floors so there’s plenty of space inside,” she says.

The couple, who have a nine-year-old son, Joseph, began making the house a home by uncovering the original fireplace in the kitchen. Darren is adept at DIY and took a sledgehammer to the chimney breast, whose main feature was a plastic air vent.

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

He and Ali then had a wood-burning stove installed, which is now a cosy focal point. The next job was to get rid of the carpets so they could sand and stain the floorboards.

The existing kitchen units were revamped and the worktop replaced. Cubes rather than shelves were made for the alcove and a triple pendant light was added for effect and illumination.

“We did a lot of the work ourselves, although we aren’t great at wallpapering so we got someone in to do that for us,” says Ali. “There’s an art to it, especially when it comes to matching the pattern.”

She loves wallpaper and chose Harlequin’s Silhouette for the kitchen and Orla Kiely’s Scribble and Multi-Stem for the stairs and landing. The loft bedroom features Great Wave by Cole and Son and Mountains by MissPrint.

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

The attic room is split into a sleeping area on one side of the stairs and a sewing area on the other, which is where Ali makes cushions from her own design fabric. While most of the properties on the row have put a dividing wall on the second floor, Ali and Darren prefer the open-plan space.

There was only one plug socket in the room, so they brought extra light into it by stringing electrical cords together to support three pendant lights. These hang on hooks from the ceiling.

Furniture is a mixture of pieces from family, friends, Habitat and eBay. The kitchen table and chairs are from eBay, as are the pair of pink 1930s easy chairs in the kitchen. They were £10 each, while the cushion by Donna Wilson was an investment buy. The orange retro chair in the sitting room was Ali’s grandmother’s.

More colour and interest comes from her many houseplants, which she says “bring a bit of the countryside indoors” and from her vintage collections and quirky finds sourced from antique and charity shops.

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

Her favourite hunting grounds are Wakefield Antiques Centre in the Ridings Centre and the Trading Post in Featherstone. There’s also an ever-changing selection of props bought by Darren for use in plays and pantos.

The walls are a gallery of Ali’s prints, and those by other artists, including Mark Deal and Claire Kirkby.

Her creative career was launched after a foundation course in art and design at Ipswich College of Art and a textiles and surface pattern design degree at Bretton College. She was a freelance wallpaper and fabric designer before working in-house for a handbag company. When that firm folded, she made a decision to go back to what she loved best.

“When I worked full time for the company, I didn’t have the time or energy to do my own designs. So when I was made redundant I decided to go back to my roots. I really wanted to be a printmaker, so I took a course in screen printing,” says Ali.

She started her business at the kitchen table and has progressed to a dedicated studio at the Art House in Wakefield. The move has helped boost production and Ali’s work, which includes limited-edition prints, greetings cards, lampshades, cushions and textiles is in demand.

Her inspiration, she says, comes from “people, fashion, patterns, interior design and everyday objects”.

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

Printmaker Ali Appleby's terrace house in Wakefield

“I really love what I do. And it’s great to have a studio at the Art House and be a part of that community. I sell from my website but I also do fairs and events, which really helps because you get feedback on what people do and don’t like,” says Ali, who is enjoying a hectic month.

She will be at Leeds Print Fair at the Corn Exchange today followed by a stint at the Art Market in Holmfirth on November 22.

• To see more of Ali’s work visit www.aliappleby.com.