If ever a house and a woman were made for each other, it is surely Chatelaine and Siobhan Murphy. Both are truly remarkable and both stand out from the crowd in the best possible way. Their marriage made in heaven began when Siobhan and her husband, Nick, decided to upsize from her small semi-detached house.
“We couldn’t agree on anything as his ideal home was a minimalist apartment and mine was a big Victorian terrace property. Then we found Chatelaine and that was it. We both loved it.
“I was so emotional when I first viewed it, I cried. I felt a strong connection with it and there was a real sense that this is where I needed to be,” says Siobhan, who credits her makeover of the house with helping her win a coveted place on the BBC2 series Interior Design Masters.
The show, which is hosted by Alan Carr, follows 10 contestants competing for a prestigious contract with a luxury hotel. Each week, they are given a project to complete and at the end of it one person is eliminated by series judge Michelle Ogundehin, former editor of Elle Decoration magazine, and a guest judge. “I loved every minute of it. I had a week while working full-time to find everything I needed for my project and then they sent a van that I had to drive down south for the first episode,” says Siobhan. “All the contestants stayed in a hotel while filming and we formed a really nice friendship group.”
After leaving school, she studied fashion at Leeds College of Art but says that as “a plus size girl” she could never find clothes she loved, so she made interiors her hobby because “then it didn’t matter at all whether I was size 8 or a size 18”. Since taking part in the TV series, she has dropped from full to part-time hours as an NHS digital communications manager, so she can pursue creative enterprises, while continuing to work on her home.
Her Art Deco house has long been a Castleford landmark thanks to its standout architecture. The huge angular building with a circular tower is a magnificent 1930s “Grand Design” and is delightfully incongruous among the new builds and the old red brick terraces and semis that characterise the rest of the town. Inside, it retains many original features including oak parquet flooring and a magnificent sunken black bath with mosaic tiling.
Now, just 18 months after buying the property, Siobhan has managed a major transformation with bold interiors that reflect the spirit of that inter-war period when colour, daring new styles and new materials were embraced. The Jazz Age meets 21st century approach shows off her skill and her sense of adventure.
“The house was in good condition when we bought it but the colour scheme was neutral which wasn’t me,” says Siobhan. “I did a lot of research and now have a big collection of books on Art Deco interiors and there was a lot of colour and pattern, a lot of pink and green and leopard and zebra prints, so that’s what I have gone with here.”
She began by repurposing one of the four bedrooms as an office, while the bedroom in the tower is now a bar. Adept at DIY and upcycling, Siobhan tackled many projects herself including the wallpapering, which she did with the help of her mother. She only had professional help with the wallpaper mural by Avalana Design, which brings the enormous first-floor landing and its curved walls to life. “The landing here is bigger than the entire footprint of the ground floor of my old house, so it needed special treatment,” she says.
Her black and white striped hallway was inspired by a house in Miami that she spotted on Instagram and artist Nicky Cash, of Done Up North, painstakingly painted it for her.
In the kitchen, rather than replace the existing wood units at great cost, Siobhan had them and the radiators spray painted in dark green, leaving money in the budget for furniture.
Fitting out the extra large rooms was a challenge and she began almost from scratch as barely anything from her former home looked right. Facebook Marketplace and eBay were go-to places for original Art Deco furniture and her best finds include a walnut sideboard and an original mirrored fireplace. “I also mixed in some new items because I didn’t want it to look like a time capsule,” says Siobhan.
The bathroom, with its sensational, black sunken bath, was made even more glamorous by painting the ceiling and cupboards to match. The main bedroom is a vision in pink with the bed from an Anthropologie sale and wallpaper by Avalana. The tower room shows Siobhan’s love of playful design and features a 1970s bar painted pink with gold leaf and bespoke banquette seating.
“It’s been helpful in lockdown and we’ve been up there for cocktails a few times, ” says Siobhan, who fully intends to stay at Chatelaine forever. “I love it. And I never get bored of how it looks because I am always restyling the rooms by moving furniture and accessories to different places around the house. They call it ‘shopping your own home’ and it works.”
*Interior Design Masters is on every Tuesday at 8pm on BBC2, with the final episode on March 23. Find Siobhan on Instagram @interiorcurve
A History of Chatelaine
Built to designs by architects Blenkinsopp & Scratchard in 1934, Chatelaine in Castleford was commissioned by Dr Margaret Innes Prangnell who used it as her home and GP surgery until the 1950s.
It then belonged to a hairdresser named Dolly who also ran her business from the property. After slipping into dereliction in the 1970s, the council threatened it with demolition before architect Terence Hughes restored it in the 1980s.
“He sold his prize possession, a Lotus Elan, to pay for a new roof,” says owner Siobhan Murphy, who is keen to learn more about Dr Prangnell, Castleford’s first female GP.
“I love that Chatelaine was built for a strong, independent woman and I’d love to know more about her because I’d like to write a book about the house,” says Siobhan.
“I think she was from Scotland, then went to London and left under mysterious circumstances and ended up in Castleford.
“She apparently wore red lipstick, smoked cigarettes and she had a page boy who announced each patient to her.”
If anyone knows more on Dr Innes Prangnell contact Siobhan via Instagram message or email [email protected]
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