The pandemic has been devastating in so many ways but it has also spawned success stories and created opportunities. Joanne Hardcastle and three fellow interiors Instagrammers from Yorkshire are a case in point and their opportunity came from the Covid-induced boom in DIY and redecorating.
The creative quartet, who regularly collaborated on the social media group with the hashtag “The Story of my Home”, were spotted by a publisher after attracting thousands of followers.
The brief was to come up with a picture-filled bestseller full of advice and ideas on how to make a property look and feel great.
While they had never written a book before, Joanne, aka hardcastletowers on Instagram; Jack March, aka jackdmarch; Marie Claire Jackson: aka the_gingerhare_of_yorkshire; and Wendy Simpson, aka the_yorkshire_homestead, have absolutely smashed it.
Their book, Story of My Home: The Art of Home, £14.99, from Studio Press, has already attracted a huge number of pre-orders ahead of its publication on September 2.
There are chapters on every area starting with the front door and the final chapter is “The 10 commandments of decorating”.
“The publisher got in touch last September and we decided to go for it. It was a huge challenge for all four of us, especially as we only had two face-to-face meetings and we planned most of the book via Zoom,” says Joanne.
The book features pictures of the authors’ own properties and those of fellow Instagram stars. “What’s good is that the pictures show a range of very diverse styles,” says Joanne. Her own home is a show-stopping Edwardian end terrace house in Upper Batley that she and her husband, Tim, bought 21 years ago.
Back then, it was in a sad and sorry state after being split into bedsits. “It smelled of nicotine and was full of graffiti. My family thought I was mad buying it because I’d just had a baby, but I loved the location,” says Joanne. “The house is fronted by fields and, although it looked grotty, I could see what it could become.
Over the past two decades, she and Tim, who have three daughters, have made the property something to be incredibly proud of. Rewiring, replumbing and replastering were a must, along with replacing the old windows with period-style new ones, including sashes and a beautiful bay, all by Ventrolla.
Historic features have been retained, uncovered and reinstated, while vintage, salvage and contemporary styles have been cleverly mixed together. “I love Andy Thornton’s in Elland and the antique fairs at Newark and Lincoln for vintage and I especially love old dolls and anything featuring faces,” says Joanne.
A kitchen extension and attic conversion have gradually stretched the property into a roomy four-bedroom home. “Tim is really handy so he has done a lot of the work himself,” says Joanne, who has 64,000 followers on Instagram thanks to her creativity.
This has led to commissions for interiors styling for adverts, blogs and collaborations with homeware brands. She, Jack, Marie Claire and Wendy were also engaged to create the entrance to Yorkshire’s homeware department store, Redbrick Mill in Batley.
Back at base in Upper Batley, her kitchen is painted in her favourite turquoise and the sitting room is in green with a matching sofa from Swyft. “Green is such a calming colour and it blends with the view of the fields,” she says.
The neighbouring dining room is in Farrow & Ball’s Railings with a table by Made.com. The painting on the wall is by Joanne and Tim’s daughter Lily, an art student. The stairs in the hall are a knock-out feature with the steps covered in copper leaf, which was glued on and varnished. “We couldn’t afford a carpet at the time so we painted the steps brown and they looked awful. The copper leaf is amazing because it bounces light around,” says Joanne.
Upstairs, her bedroom is her sanctuary and the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Vardo, a deep turquoise. The blue chair is from Cult Furniture, the rug from La Redoute, the cupboards were made by local joinery Norwood Designs and the handles are from Leeds-based Dowsing & Reynolds. “I love this room because it has two beautiful arched windows overlooking fields, which is very therapeutic. I wrote a lot of my pieces for the book here,” she says.
The main bathroom has been a big hit on Instagram after Joanne invested in a tub from the Cast Iron Bath Company in York. One of the family’s favourite spaces is the courtyard area, created recently and a godsend in lockdowns.
“We treated ourselves to an outdoor stove on wheels from Morley Stoves. It was a lot of money at £1,500 but it has been well worth it,” says Joanne, a foster carer, who has turned the small area into a gorgeous outdoor room with a pergola, an old table she revamped, a hanging egg chair, rugs, mirrors and even a display shelf.
There are plans afoot to convert the basement into a party room but no plans to sell what is the Hardcastles’ forever home. “I love my house and I love Batley,” says Joanne. “I’m definitely staying here until I am too old to climb the stairs.”
*Story of My Home: The Art of Home, £14.99, is published on September 2 and available to pre-order from Amazon.
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