Real Home: Fast car style

This former granary has had a modern makeover thanks to a couple who have made interiors their business. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Angus Robertson.

Fast cars and interior design may seem miles apart, but Jay Rennard brought them together when he and his wife Louise refurbished their converted granary. He commissioned bespoke vinyl wraps used to customise cars and repurposed them to cover built-in walnut wardrobes that were in need of updating.

He also used car wheel paint to turn an ordinary white drinks tray into a black and gold bobby dazzler while the inspiration for the guest bedroom was an upmarket motorhome.

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“I'm especially pleased with how the wraps worked. The wardrobes we inherited with the house weren't our taste but they were obviously expensive and getting rid of them would've been a waste. So we moved them to our daughter's room and I ordered a wrap designed by Louise to cover them with. They can easily be replaced because wraps are made to peel off with no residue,” says Jay, who buys and sells high-performance cars while running On Trend Living, an interior design business and a joint venture with Louise.

He is perfectly suited to the job. He is creative, pays rigorous attention to detail and has plenty of experience. He renovated 10 properties before he met Louise and they have tackled four major property projects as a couple. Their latest home in a village near York acts as a showcase for their skills.

The Rennards, who have two children, bought the former granary 15 months ago and the location, space and potential were the top selling points.

“I knew it could be a great family home if we changed almost everything inside to suit us and that involved replumbing, rewiring and new floors,” says Louise who has a design and marketing company.

The family lived in rented accommodation while the old granary was gutted and modernised but Jay was at the property every day from 6am to 10pm.

Not only did he project manage, he was hands on, tackling everything from levelling the kitchen floor to scribing the walls to make sure the sockets and switches from Buster and Punch fitted flush. “I'm a bit OCD. Everything has to be just right,” says Jay.

One of the biggest and most expensive jobs was remodelling the kitchen/diner. Removing the suspended ceiling to reveal the old roof trusses and beams cost £9,000. “It was worth every penny, because it has completely transformed the room and gives it real wow factor,” says Jay, who designed the kitchen cabinetry with Harrogate-based Stephen Neall. The cabinets have solid brass handles and the island has a leather- topped bar and ice trough.

Track lighting with angled spotlights is strategically placed on the trusses while a Tom Dixon light shines on the dining table.

What was a bedroom next door to the kitchen is now a wine room painted in red with wood and marble racks, and the Rennards turned an adjoining ground-floor office into a new guest suite. “There are steps up to the bedroom and bathroom because I hate flat floors and I had the bed made to fill the full width of the room. That's another motoring thing,” says Jay.

The drawing room is known as “the Alice in Wonderland” room because it's enormous and so the furniture and accessories are sized to suit. They include chandeliers and an Eichholtz table and a mirror from Harrogate Interiors.

The accessories are from Rockett St George, Heal's, Redbrick Mill and Louise's favourite shop – the Imaginarium in York. “I have been collecting for years and I never throw anything away. I've got a storeroom outside and it's full of boxes. I'm a terrible hoarder and I love shopping,” she says.

The ornate white fireplace was clad with wood and painted black to give it a more minimalist look and it teams well with the walls, which are in painted in Malt by Eico, an environmentally friendly paint manufactured in Iceland.

The floor is edged with marble from Lapicida, which matches the new marble tiled hall, which is visible through the glass door. To add softness, Jay created a carpet square in the middle, which he rimmed with glass. As the couple both work from home, the property has Cat6 cabling but rather than wire it into the walls, Jay came up with idea of hiding it behind the skirting boards.

The stairs have been updated and lead to the bedrooms, which now have glass thresholds and oak floors that Jay bleached with a white stain. He also reduced the size of the master ensuite to make a separate dressing room.

Outside, a former cow shed is now a garage and the old stables have been converted into an office for Louise's marketing firm. Jay redesigned the garden and is working on an “outdoor room” that he says is his “bit of Miami Vice”.

“Jay has got great vision and because he is very practical, he knows how to make his ideas work,” says Louise, who is keen to make the granary a long-term home.

“It has everything we need and we have lovely neighbours. The temptation to move for another project isn't as great as we are satisfying that urge by working on other people's properties,” says Jay, who adds: “Having said that, I've always wanted to self-build. A minimalist glass box would suit me but I don't think it would suit the rest of the family.”

Useful Contacts

On Trend Living interior design,

Harrogate Interiors, luxury furniture and lighting,

Stephen Neall Group specialising in fitted and free-standing furniture,

The Decorating Centre, Wetherby, stockists of Eico paint,

Redbrick Mill, Batley, interiors department store, including a Heal's,

Rockett St George, home accessories,

Imaginarium, York, home accessories,

Buster and Punch, hardware 
and lighting,