There are many reasons why Lynsey Ford was a worthy winner of BBC2’s Interior Design Masters challenge. While her training as an architect gave her the edge in understanding use of light and space, it was her natural talent for interiors, fearless use of colour, gift for creative upcycling and her remarkable talent for DIY that wowed the hard to please judges, including former Elle Deco editor Michelle Ogundehin.
Her prize was a commission to redesign Willow Cottage, a dated, two-bedroom annexe at the fashionable Another Place, The Lake hotel on the shore of Ullswater, though she also deserved a medal for working while pregnant for four months without a single day off to secure her place in the show’s final.
Lynsey was three months pregnant when the challenge started and seven months gone when it ended after a series of Herculean tasks, which involved doing eight commercial design projects with eight different clients. “It was hard. I spent the first three episodes trying not to be sick. The show’s medic wouldn’t let me lift anything heavy so I had to pretend I had a bad back because at that point I hadn’t had a scan and so hadn’t told family and friends or the other contestants about the news. The good thing is that I was so busy, the pregnancy seemed to go very quickly,” says Slaithwaite-based Lynsey, who now has a baby daughter, Poppy.
While she took a short break to enjoy being a mum, she returned to work on the commercial contract she won. Another Place, The Lake is the first in a new collection of hotels by the team behind the swish and contemporary Watergate Bay in Cornwall.
While you can simply relax and drink in the Lakeland views, the hotel is also aimed at those who like to be active and offers open-water swimming, sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, cycling and skiing, along with an indoor pool and treatment rooms. “It’s an amazing place and my prize was to transform the dated, self-contained two-bedroom suite with views over the lake, though the main living space didn’t make the most of the outlook so that was my starting point for change,” says Lynsey.
The first job was to take out the small corner window with lots of dividers that broke up the view. It was replaced with two floor-to-ceiling panes of glass that deliver a much bigger, uninterrupted vista of the lake and the fells beyond. She also created a reading nook with two chairs and a table by each of the picture windows.
“That’s where my architecture training came in. I knew what could be achieved and how to make it work,” says Lynsey. “The windows and that view are now the focal point of the room, whereas before it was the fireplace.”
To prevent the fireplace from ighting for attention, she painted it and the cream walls in Farrow & Ball’s blue-black Railings. “Before, your eye went straight to the fireplace but painting that and the walls in Railings has made it recede. Plus the views really pop against the dark colour,” says Lynsey, who also commissioned Hebden Bridge artist Julia Ogden to create a mural for the main living space in the suite, which has a sitting, dining and kitchenette area.
The painting features the view from the window, and Lynsey has used the green and rusty orange colours in it as inspiration for her colour scheme. The semi-circular orange sofa was made bespoke to her design and is positioned to make the most of the amazing outlook and to help conversation flow as the curve allows everyone to see each other without leaning over the person next to them. Lynsey has named it the “social sofa”.
The project saw her make good use of trusted Yorkshire craftspeople and suppliers while indulging her love of upcycling vintage furniture. The circular mirror on the back wall reflects the view and is bespoke by Sowerby Bridge Glass and the lights above are from Andy Thornton Interiors and Antiques in Elland, while all the lights and switches in the property, along with the gold shower and taps in the bathroom, are from Leeds-based emporium Dowsing & Reynolds.The old kitchenette was replaced by new cabinets made from recycled materials by Slaithwaite-based Daval. They make better use of the space and allowed Lynsey to use the extra square footage to build a wall that hides a boot room area which features one of her ingenious inventions. Her stylish boot rack has pull-out struts to hang wellies and walking boots on so they can dry more easily.
The previously plain main bedroom now has panelling behind the bed and a wallpaper mural from Hovia on one wall. The ceiling light is by Tom Raffield, the dressing table by Daval and the bedside cabinets are vintage. The second king-size room is painted with Farrow & Ball’s DeNimes and has new panelling plus mirrors to make the space feel bigger.
“I loved working at the hotel. Who wouldn’t? What was lovely is that the first guests who stayed messaged me to say how much they loved it, especially the reading nook, where they sat for hours looking at the views. That is just how I imagined it being used,” says Lynsey, who now runs her own business, Lynsey Ford Design.
The future includes more work from Another Place and more commissions, including designing the interiors of a play gym, a house in Barbados and a new-build by an architect friend.
“I especially like working on commercial premises because you can be more adventurous but I said yes to Barbados because in my 20s I worked in South Africa and Uganda so it appealed. What I’m really looking forward to is working with local tradespeople and craftspeople. It will be interesting to see what we can produce.”
*A new series of Interior Design Masters starts on BBC2 in March.
*Useful Contacts: Lynsey Ford architecture, interiors and furniture design, www.lynseyforddesign.co.uk; Another Place, The Lake, www.another.place; Daval bespoke furniture makers, Slaithwaite, www.daval-furniture.co.uk; Julia Ogden, painter and printmaker, Hebden Bridge, www.juliaogden.com; Dowsing & Reynolds, Victoria Quarter, Leeds, for stylish lighting, switches, sockets, handles, taps and showers etc, www.dowsingandreynolds.com; Andy Thornton Interiors and Antiques, Elland, www.andythornton.com; Sowerby Bridge Glass, www.sowerbybridgeglass.co.uk
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