Living the renovation game

Well-known interior designer Richard Grafton has put his signature style on his country home, near Harrogate. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Steve Riding.

The Harrogate home of Richard Grafton
The Harrogate home of Richard Grafton

Living through a major renovation is no fun at all. The mess, the muck and the lack of basic facilities is stressful and can really get you down.

When Richard Grafton revamped his own home, he found the perfect escape from it all – his store in Harrogate. It’s part stylish shop, part design studio and, for two weeks it became a boutique hotel.

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Parts of the 3,000 sq ft showroom feature fabulous room sets complete with cosy living flame fire, a TV, luxurious shower room and a fancy, fully-fitted kitchen – all plumbed in, wired up and in working order.

The Harrogate home of Richard Grafton

“We went on holiday and came back and the only thing that was working was one loo, so Milly and the children went away for a couple of weeks and I practically lived at the showroom. I really enjoyed it. I’d go in really early and have a shower, make breakfast and watch a bit of TV,” says Richard.

His customers are very appreciative too. Quite often he’ll find men on the sofa in the drawing room, with a cup of coffee and the remote control, cheering on their favourite football team, while their partner enjoys a leisurely shop.

His newly-modernised home has a similar look and feel. It’s laid-back luxury but it’s carefully planned to suit him, wife Milly and their children Charlotte, 19, Sophie, 16, and George, 12. They bought the converted farmhouse and barn on the edge of a village near Harrogate four years ago after a long, three-year hunt for the right house.

“We sold our home in Harrogate and rented for three years before finding this I knew the location well and it is a fantastic, peaceful spot,” says Richard. “The garden is big enough to play football in, which is great for George, who is very sporty.”

The Harrogate home of Richard Grafton

Although it had been converted, it was a little dated, so they came up with a plan to change the layout and the look before launching the project. An experienced hand at co-ordinating trades, timing deliveries and designing and implementing schemes, it took Richard 12 weeks from start to finish.

“It’s what I do every day at work and it’s of one the reasons people come to us because we can do everything, and quickly. We’ve just completely refurbished an apartment in Harrogate and it took eight weeks,” he says.

Top of his to-do list at home was a new boiler, underfloor heating and a rewire. The kitchen/dining room was completely re-fitted and re-designed with cabinets by Harrogate-based cabinet makers Rock and Bone. They are a mix of wood with granite worktops and walnut inlay, and there are no cupboards – just deep, extra large drawers.

In the hall, the old staircase was given a clever, contemporary look by replacing the spindles with glass panels. The sitting room was treated to a new Chesney fireplace from Robert Aagaard in Knaresborough.

The Harrogate home of Richard Grafton

Upstairs, space was stolen from the airing cupboard and used to create wardrobe space in a bedroom and to add square footage to an en-suite bathroom. The girls’ bedrooms both have Mr Perswall, personalised wallpaper. Sophie has vintage black and white magazine covers, while Charlotte has a large rose.

All the beds have bespoke headboards, designed and made by Grafton’s. George’s is in Ralph Lauren fabric.

The bathrooms are spectacular with Laufen sanitaryware and shower walls lined with large, limestone panels bought from another local business, Lapicida. They were fitted by Grafton Freestone, a sister company.

The detail everywhere is impressive from the limestone flooring and fumed oak doors with chrome rim latches, to the handles on George’s wardrobe, which are tiny leather cricket balls.

Furniture is a mix of old and new along with the revamped, like the Lloyd Loom dining chairs that have been re-sprayed a fresh colour.

There is only one pair of curtains in the place, as Richard and Milly prefer Roman blinds or shutters, for simplicity.

“Plus, there are three windows in one of the bedrooms, so curtains at all of them would’ve been too much,” says Milly.

The palette throughout the house is neutral and restful with accents of colour. Zoffany paints are a favourite and shades include taupe, mushroom and a variety of whites. Colour comes from paintings and prints by favourite artists, like Bob Rudd and James Wheeler, and Nick Holly.

“I like a neutral, tonal palette in my own home because it’s calming and it helps the house flow.

“It’s also unlikely to date easily, which is what happens when you slavishly follow trends,” says Richard. “This is an old house so I wanted a scheme that paid tribute to the history but brought it into the 21st-century.”

With their own home just how they want it, they can sit back and enjoy it, or at least Milly and the children can.

Richard, meanwhile, is getting itchy feet and is already dreaming of their next move.

“I can’t help it. I have always been obsessed with property. I love it. I bought my first house when I was 17 and I always buy renovation projects. I’d move a lot more often if it wasn’t for the family.

“Once I’ve done a property up and got it how I like it, I get bored and want to do another one. I enjoy the journey and the excitement of doing it but then I want to move on.

“That’s what I feel now, though there is still potential to extend here, which I’d like to leave for the next owner. ”

Milly is putting her foot down for now.

“I try and ground him if I can and I love it here,” she says. “I’ve said that before though and we’ve always ended up moving.”

Richard Grafton Interiors, The Ginnel, Harrogate,