Interior stylist Jane Thompson shows us round her Leeds home

Jane Thompson has used her design skills to make the best use of space in her art-filled home. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by James Hardisty.

Jane in her sitting room with a painting by her niece, Lillie Bernie, above the sofa

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Her parents love of art and design has had a profound effect on Jane Thompson’s life and on her home.The walls of her house in North Leeds are full of paintings and prints, many of which she inherited from her mother and father.They had a fantastic eye for spotting talent and embraced work by contemporary artists and makers.Every one of the pictures tells a story and many bring back happy memories of Jane’s childhood. “I feel very lucky that I grew up in a house full of art and that I was to taken to galleries and exposed to culture from a young age.“My parents were also very creative with interiors. Our house was always a bit different,” she says Jane, who is an interior stylist.Hanging her pictures was the finishing touch to a project to reclaim, redecorate and extend her property, which had been previously rented.

Basement conversion

The house, a three-storey back-to- back, was chosen for its prime location and sits on a quiet cul-de-sac.“It had a really nice feel and as when I walked in it smiled at me and that’s why I bought it,” says Jane.“The only aspect I didn’t like was the tiny galley kitchen.”The kitchen was on the ground floor next to a small sitting room and she came up with a radical plan to move it to the cellar. This required a full basement conversion at considerable expense but after a cost-benefit analysis, Jane decided to go ahead. “I knew it would be expensive because the cellar was two dark and damp rooms so it required a lot of work but I also knew that it would add value to the house and that it would improve my quality of life,” she says.

The old dark cellar is now a light bright kitchen

Kitchen style

The first quote she got, which included tanking, was £22,500 but when she added underfloor heating, flooring, windows to allow plenty of natural light, a smart new stair rail with glass panels and the kitchen units and appliances, the total cost came in at about £44,000.“It’s been well worth every penny. This kitchen has totally changed my life. I can entertain properly now and I love being down there because it feels great,” she says.“Doing the kitchen and making other improvements to the house has paid off by adding value, though that wasn’t my main motivation.”She specified underfloor heating in the basement because she didn’t want radiators but it also mitigates any fustiness.The kitchen cabinets are from Howarth Timber and Jane has nothing but praise for the company.Her only compromise was the floor. She wanted concrete but getting the mixer and other equipment down the steps was impractical so she opted for porcelain tiles.

Starring Picasso

The Picasso is a silk scarf, which has been framed. It adds colour to the room.

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As for the decor, she says: “Everything is white and unfussy so the emphasis is on the art and my knick-knacks.”The framed Picasso print scarf, which looks like a painting, is the most striking piece, along with a collection of Majorcan pottery and crystal decanters that belonged to her parents and her aunt.The dining table was a bargain buy from Ikea and the chairs are vintage.

Art with meaning

Many of Jane's pictures have sentimental value and belonged to her parents and her aunt.

With the kitchen moved downstairs, the sitting room is large enough to take a big sofa and a Chesterfield chair, along with a wooden chest she bought in CamdenPride of place on the wall above the sofa is a painting by Jane’s niece, Lillie Bernie, and there is also artwork by her father, who sculpted as a hobby.

Built-in and bespoke

The velvet headboard is bespoke

On the first floor there are two bedrooms and a bathroom.The main bedroom has built-in furniture by Sharps and the green velvet headboard is bespoke from Beds of Oakwood.The silver chair brings back happy memories of her time in London as she bought it in Camden.The blinds are in a Sanderson print and the curtains are from Homesense.“I like Homesense for soft furnishings and accessories. They do great, inexpensive cushions,” says Jane, who decorated the wall with one of her favourite paintings, a picture by Tom Durkin that belonged to her aunt.The top floor room is multi-functional and works as an office and a guest bedroom. It also features a wall of fitted wardrobes, which is great for storage.

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Changing rooms

The house is now a showcase for her interior design business, which she launched recently after a career that has included producing conferences and live events, silversmithing, tapestry design and furniture renovation.“Work has always involved doing something creative. I’ve enjoyed all the jobs I’ve done over the years but interior design is what really suits me best,” says Jane.Her clients range from those who want to refresh their decor to newly-divorced men who want help in finding a style that suits them. “Creating a place on their own is all part of the healing process,” says Jane, who adds:“I rarely start from scratch as I encourage people to keep the things they love and that mean something to them.“I call them memory pieces and they are really important in making a house feel like a home.”She practises what she preaches in her own picture-perfect house, though admits that it may not be a forever home.“I’ve moved a lot in the past. I go wherever the mood takes me and the only things I wouldn’t leave behind are my passport and my art.”

Useful Contacts

Jane Thompson Interiors,www.janethompsoninteriors.comLillie Bernie, artist, www.lilliebernie.comHowarth Timber kitchens,, Leeds, for carpets, built-in bedroom furniture, headboard, Beds of Oakwood,

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