This house in Helmsley has been transformed and is now a no expense spared holiday let with surprising additions

When Christina Brion launched the luxury Yorkshire holiday property brand Gorgeous Cottages in 2012, the response was nothing short of phenomenal. She had studied English Literature at Leeds University and knew all about the power of words to seduce, inform and engage the reader.

So the descriptions of the properties she chose to take onto her books were beautifully written and enticing while providing everything a prospective guest would need to know. The other key ingredient that ensured her success was imagery. “Very few, if any, similar businesses were using a professional photographer at the time but I knew it was a must because pictures are vital in promoting the properties,” says Christina

While she eventually sold the thriving business, she is now back in the game but this time as a holiday property owner. Her time assessing holiday lets and advising clients on improving their offering while gathering feedback from guests has been incredibly useful for her new venture, Yorkshire Velvet.

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The first home in her portfolio is testament to all she has learned and to her natural flair for interior design. The Velveteen Bath House in the market town of Helmsley has been a mammoth project and no expense has been spared on it.

The large and beautifully landscaped garden is a major feature of the propertyThe large and beautifully landscaped garden is a major feature of the property
The large and beautifully landscaped garden is a major feature of the property

The property began life as a much-loved but dated 1930s semi-detached house and Christina and her husband Phil arranged a viewing purely because they love the market town.

She says: “Helmsley is our favourite place to visit in Yorkshire and it’s only half an hour’s drive from where we live near Stokesley. The house wasn’t a looker from the outside but inside it had a lovely feel about it and we could see it had a lot of potential, plus it had parking and a large garden. I knew that we could make it special.”

The ensuing two-year project, which started in 2021, has completely transformed the property and involved extending it to the side to create a ground floor shower room and a cinema room/snug with access to Sky, Netflix and Nintendo Switch.

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A rear extension provided space for a large, light-filled kitchen/dining area with a corner booth and glazed doors onto the garden. The kitchen cabinetry is bespoke and made and fitted by Northallerton Dixon and Cowton joiners.

The snug/cinema roomThe snug/cinema room
The snug/cinema room

“Kitchens from Wren and Howdens were coming in at £20,000 and we paid £30,000 for ours knowing it will last a lifetime, so in terms of value it was a great buy,” says Christina.

The sitting room had a gas fire, which the Brions replaced with an open fire featuring an antique surround from Old Flames in Easingwold. “I grew up in Northern Ireland and we always had an open fire. I love the warmth and cosiness they bring,” says Christina, who has left instructions for the uninitiated on how to light it

Upstairs, there were three bedrooms and one bathroom but the space has been redesigned to create two large ensuite rooms with beds and mattresses from Simply Beds in Northallerton. This was done on the basis that to achieve the best letting rates, guests have to have their own bedroom and their own private bathroom.

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Interiors store Niche Living in Barnard Castle made all the cushions, curtains and blinds and worked with Christina to create a calm and restful colour palette for the house.

The bespoke kiitchen, which is built to lastThe bespoke kiitchen, which is built to last
The bespoke kiitchen, which is built to last

Sage green and terracotta paints from Fenwick and Tilbrook were a favourite for the walls with pattern added on headboards, cushions and the wallpaper in the hallway. Again, no expense has been spared, with Mark Hearld’s Wren fabric used on the headboards in the twin room.

Panelling was also used to great effect and the furniture is a mix of new investment buys, including the Arlo and Jacob sofa plus antique finds like the chairs, which Niche

Living reupholstered, and the Victorian desk that the TV sits on. Vinterior and Etsy were also favourite shopping sites while many of the pictures were bought from Tennants in Leyburn and the lighting is from Jim Lawrence and Pooky.

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Outside was also a major project and the garden, which looked a sorry sight after the building work, is now a work of art, thanks to investment and a template created by Christina’s sister, professional garden designer Jackie Cahoon of

The twin bedroom with Mark Hearld fabric covered headboardsThe twin bedroom with Mark Hearld fabric covered headboards
The twin bedroom with Mark Hearld fabric covered headboards

The cherries on top are the Swedish sauna and a Japanese style Ofuro Hot Tub housed in a timber shelter. Christina originally wanted an outdoor bath, hence naming the property The Velveteen Bath House, but the agent from Gorgeous Cottages said a hot tub would broaden the property’s appeal so she opted for something different with the wooden Ofuro tub, which is for two people and is deep and barrel shaped with water that comes up to your shoulders when you sit in it.

“We put our heart and soul into this project and have tried to create something classic and full of character, while at the same time offering every luxury we would expect on our own self-catering holidays,” says Christina, who has another reason for the no expense spared transformation.

“Phil and I are thinking of retiring to Helmsley to this property and so we wanted everything here to stand the test of time.”

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The house is within a few minutes’ walk from Helmsley’s market square and for the uninitiated who don’t now the town well, it is popular for good reason

It is a picture postcard town nestled at the foot of the North York Moors and has restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool, gastro pubs and cafes and there’s also the much-loved Walled Garden countryside, Helmsley, and countryside on its doorstep.

For more details and to book the Velveteen Bath House, visit Gorgeous Cottages at . You can find the Yorkshire Velvet at and on Instagram at yorkshirevelvet.

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