Beautiful houses don’t always feel happy and homely but Susannah Daley has managed to create the full package in her gorgeous Georgian rectory. It’s clear from the look and feel of it that a lot of love and care have been lavished on the property.
“It’s the most time and effort I’ve ever spent on a house,” says Susannah, who has put much of her energy into building an award-winning entertainment business and opening her first restaurant.
She bought the rectory 11 years ago. “When this came up I thought it was out of my budget but my friend and financial adviser told me to go for it and I am really glad I did,” she says. “I love it and the location couldn’t be better. It’s already the longest I have lived anywhere.”
The drive to work at Peel Entertainment and Interactive, at Broughton Hall, takes 12 minutes and it’s the same distance to Alexander’s, her restaurant and bar in Skipton town centre.
Although the house had been renovated, Susannah and her husband, Alan, have made some significant changes. The limestone floors in the hallway were replaced with black and white chequered tiles from London Mosaic. The couple also invested in Victorian-style radiators and reinstated the panelling on the stairs.
The biggest project was combining the dining room and separate snug into one large open-plan library. It left them with two fireplaces, so one has been hidden behind bespoke bookshelves to protect the architectural history of the building.
The pine floorboards have been replaced with new parquet, which was tumbled in a concrete mixer to give it an aged appearance. “The idea is that it now looks as though it’s always been there,” says Susannah.
Furniture is a mix of old and new and includes a sumptuous orange sofa from Loaf, and a vintage leather chair and lighting from John Lewis. The separate sitting room now doubles as an Art Deco-inspired music room decorated in deep grey. A huge branch over the piano is hung with silver apples and pears and is a Christmas decoration that they couldn’t bear to take down thanks to what Susannah calls its “Harry Potter-esque” appeal.
A new kitchen is next on the “to do” list but, for now, the walls have been freshened up with Farrow & Ball’s Lime White, and Susannah and Alan have added a table and dresser from Eastburn Country Furniture. The former holds their collection of Illy coffee tins.
“It’s a bit of fun. We call it our own art installation,” says Susannah, who has completely redecorated the rooms upstairs and turned one of the bedrooms into a dressing room.
Her daughter designed her own room, which includes an ingenious platform for the bed with storage beneath. The decor in the main bedroom was inspired by Ralph Lauren’s signature style, so the predominant colours are burnt orange and navy. The cherry wood furniture is complemented by a stack of old leather trunks that Susannah bought from an “attic sale” at Chatsworth House.
That is the kind of retail therapy she enjoys. She doesn’t like fashion and interiors shopping in general, as she much prefers browsing in galleries and bookshops.
Her love of art is reflected in the vast number of pictures that line the walls. Favourites include work by Yorkshire artists Jane Fielder, Bridget Tempest, Kitty North and Angela Smyth and ladders are a recurring theme in her collection. “For me they are a symbol of how tough life can be and how we are constantly struggling to keep moving,” she says.
There are also lots of mementoes from Susannah’s travels. Her work has taken her all over the world. Born in Keighley, she joined a youth theatre and did a degree at Bretton Hall College, near Wakefield, winning the BBC young filmmaker of the year. After a career as head of theatre at the National Media Museum in Bradford, she founded a business that brought history to life in museums and now provides them with augmented reality apps.
When asked to tender for a contract to provide entertainment on cruise ships, she won it and her firm, Peel, is now a multi award-winning provider of live entertainment to the cruise industry.
The sculptures on the kitchen dresser are from Greece, which was the cruising capital when Susannah entered the business 19 years ago. The downstairs loo has also been decorated in homage to cruise ships.
“It has teak decking on the floor made by a friend in Greece,” says Susannah, who recently diversified into the bar and restaurant trade after buying the former David Goldie shop in Skipton.
“I loved the Georgian building and I thought there was a gap in the market for a really good place to eat in Skipton, somewhere that would deliver a fantastic experience,” she adds.
The £2.2m project to convert and decorate Alexander’s in decadent Edwardian style was a huge investment but has delivered a fabulous interior and a canalside terrace, along with a kitchen run by chef Jason Wardill, specialising in small, sharing plates.
It has been open for only seven months but Susannah is already thinking of expanding into London. It will mean extra work and stress but she says: “We used to have a great saying at the youth theatre and we use it in the office at work: ‘in for the glamour, in for the grit.’”
Alexander’s bar and kitchen, High Street, Skipton, alexanders-skipton.com
Eastburn Country Furniture, eastburncountryfurniture.co.uk
Bridget Tempest, artist, bridgettempest.com
Kitty North, artist, kittynorth.com
Jane Fielder, artist, janefielder.com
Angela Smyth, artist, angelasmyth.co.uk
Skipton Antiques, Cavendish Street, Skipton
Feature Radiators, Bingley, featureradiators.co.uk
London Mosaic, floor tiles. londonmosaic.com
Loaf, furniture. loaf.com