The loss of a loved one is often a watershed moment that causes us to reassess our own life and question what we really want from it and so it was for Alison Seaward. She had always had a longing to live within easy striking distance of the sea and when her father died in 2019, she decided to finally make it happen. “It was the catalyst that made me think ‘life is too short’,” says Alison, a retired nurse.
Her husband Rob, an IT manager, gave her his full support and the “For Sale” sign went up on their home in West Yorkshire. They were keen to find a Victorian house with character and that’s exactly what they got with the bonus of great neighbours and a lovely community.
They moved into their period terrace home in Pickering just over two years ago and it enjoys all the amenities in the market town, along with countryside on the doorstep and the coast just a short drive away.
Since getting the keys, the couple have carried out a sensational revamp that marries their love of Victorian architectural detail with art, handcrafted items and vintage and retro furniture and accessories..
The major makeover has been no mean feat as the property is deceptively large. While it looks like an average-sized home from the front, the rear reveals its true capacity as you can see all four floors. Altogether, there is a large kitchen dining room on the lower-ground floor that leads out into the garden. On the first floor are two sitting rooms and a spacious hall while on the two upper floors are five bedrooms and four bathrooms.
An office for Rob and a crafting area for Alison were must-haves. “We put in new windows from Kirkbymoorside based Dales Windows, new bathrooms and we redecorated from top to bottom,” says Alison, who is hands on with everything from painting to crafting.
The Seawards also got local tradesperson Gary Powles to fit a cosy wood-burning stove with a wooden lintel above in the rear sitting room. This room is full of natural light and the walls and the wood floor are painted white, which helps showcase an impressive art collection.
It includes an abstract by Inga Irvine from the North 55 gallery in Cornwall and vibrant, colourful paintings by Claire West. “Claire’s work just evokes happiness and lifts your spirit,” says Alison, who also has a collection of the artist’s greetings cards displayed in a glazed cabinet in the alcove.
By the window is a much-loved G-Plan coffee table plus a vintage plant stand that the couple bought from Facebook Marketplace, while the fabulous orange lamp fashioned from part of a mannequin and a mid-century shade is from an antique shop in Pickering.
Every piece tells a story and none more so than Rob’s A146 Batwing radio in the corner. It dates from 1949 but Rob had it converted to Bluetooth so he can play digital stations through it. His passion for old technology, including vintage radios, cameras, calculators, hi-fis and radios, along with his love of music is more evident in the second reception room, where most of his collection is kept.
Here, the old carpet was taken up and the floor stained and varnished then topped with a rug from iRugs.co.uk. The decor is mid-century inspired with walls painted dark green and decorated with art.
The hall is full of finds, including a diving helmet from an antique shop in South Yorkshire and driftwood, which Alison and Rob collected from the beach at Berwick.
Upstairs, the main bathroom was given a whole new look by Robert Clarence Home Improvements. Alison came up with the design and sourced the free-standing bath and new porcelain tiles and Robert fitted them. “He also fixed tongue and groove panelling to the walls to add some character and I kept the original fireplace and the gas lamp above it,” says Alison.
The bedrooms each have their own distinctive decor, including a guest bedroom which features Lagoon Fish wallpaper, which is just £12.50 a roll from World of Wallpaper. “I think that definitely has something to do with my love of the sea,” says Alison, who also painted the drab, brown tiled fireplace in duck egg blue and added a beautiful Art Deco dressing table.
Another guest room has a simple but highly effective blue and white colour scheme with painted floorboards. It is a calm, restful space where the view of Pickering’s 1930s-themed railway station takes centre stage.
Attention to detail everywhere is obvious and the little things have had a lot of impact, including changing all the light switches in the house to Bakelite and solid oak.
On the lower ground floor, they have kept the kitchen cabinets installed by the previous owners but have added some striking wallpaper by Lush to the dining room to add some drama to the space.
When planning their property project, the Seawards had thought of doing B&B but Alison says: “For now we are just enjoying the space and enjoying what we have done to the house.”