A warm welcome home

Renovating a family-run pub so inspired Lisa Carrington that she decided to update her own home and launch a new interiors business. Heather Dixon reports. Pictures by Colin Poole.


When Lisa Carrington and Marcus Georgiou bought a dilapidated pub to renovate and launch as a family business they thought they would have had enough of DIY by the time it was finished.

But far from putting them off, the transformation of The Jefferson Arms at Thorganby, near York, was so rewarding that it spurred them on to start work on their own home nearby. Not only that, but it also inspired Lisa to launch an innovative new interiors business with her friend Hayley McAllister.

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“We caught the bug,” says Lisa. “The pub looked so different that we didn’t want to stop there. Our house needed updating so at the same time as launching the new business, we were also transforming the house. When that was finished I wanted a new challenge, and the idea of The Blueberry Home was born.”

Lisa and Hayley – who has also updated her own home near York – have introduced a new concept to the interior design market by offering an online storyboard service supported by two in-house designers.

“A lot of people find it very hard to justify spending thousands of pounds on the ‘designer’ look so we want customers to be able to achieve it without the huge price-tag,” says Lisa, who sought help from one of the Blueberry Home designers during her own house project.

“The décor was quite old-fashioned with lots of chintz and flowers so we decided to extend it and redecorate it from top to bottom.”

They built a garden room off the original kitchen, and turned the garage into a games room with a bar and social area.

“We went very modern and minimalistic with white walls, big pieces of artwork and not a lot of furniture. It was bright, spacious and airy, but it was very masculine in style. When circumstances changed and I met Marcus, I wanted to make a fresh start. It gave us the opportunity to create a very different look which was much more personal and family-orientated.”

The transformation began with the sitting room. The stark white walls, leather sofas and tiled fireplace made the room look utilitarian, so Lisa set about making it more inviting with soft furnishings and warmer colours. “The sofas were good quality but not to our taste, so I had the big cushions recovered to give them a new look, then introduced layers of textiles, fabrics and accessories to make the room cosier.”

The hall, stairs and landing came next. A small family bathroom was at the front of the house so there was no natural light coming onto the landing upstairs. This bathroom was taken out altogether so that the light from the window now floods the upstairs areas. A new bathroom was then created in what was the “overly” large master bedroom.

“The main bedroom used to be a suite including a dressing room and an en suite, so we reduced the size by turning the old dressing room into an en suite and the original en suite into a new family bathroom,” says Lisa.

The children’s bedrooms were decorated to their own colour schemes and designs and the smallest of the five bedrooms was turned into a teenage sitting area. Once the upstairs room were finished, Lisa and Marcus turned their attention downstairs where they agreed to move the kitchen into the old games room. In doing so, they could link it to the dining area and create a new focal point in the family home.

“Although Marcus is a chef, I designed the kitchen myself and included the things he particularly wanted, such as a double oven and a big island with stools around it for family get-togethers,” says Lisa. “It’s such an obvious place for a kitchen. There are doors leading into the garden so it’s a brilliant all-year-round room.”

When it came to decorating and furnishing the house, Lisa adapted some of the old furniture by painting it and recovering chairs and sofas. She chose warmer colours throughout and introduced lots of layers for a cosy look.

“As we worked through the house the colours seemed to get bolder and more adventurous,” she says. “When you realise something works well it builds your confidence to try different looks.”

Stylish blinds, pelmets and shutters at the windows also soften the rooms and she has added large mirrors on key walls to reflect light into the house.

“I love shopping for the extra things that make a home personal,” says Lisa. “I try not to buy anything you would easily find anywhere else and I like everything to have a place so that it creates an organised, yet homely, feel.”

Lisa finds inspiration from many sources. As well as reading homes and interiors magazines for ideas, she also took advice from an interior designer friend to help her choose fabrics and wallpapers.

“I have renovated and extended houses before so I am not daunted by the prospect of changing the layout of a property, but it was useful to have someone to discuss ideas with,” she says. “The new-look house works really well. The sound insulation is amazing, which means everyone can have their own space without disturbing other people. With running a family business that’s really helpful as people are coming and going at different times of the day and night.”

It took Lisa and Marcus 18 months to get the house exactly as they want it, but as a result it is now used to its full potential. “It used to be quite disjointed and too stark for my tastes but doing up the pub gave me the bug,” says Lisa. “We decorated the pub in a style which is really welcoming and comfortable and it made me realise what was lacking in our own home. Now the pub and our house are like home from home.”

For further information contact www.theblueberryhome.co.uk, [email protected]

Useful contacts

A-A Blinds in Tadcaster, 01937 530604, www.a-ablinds.co.uk

JP Davids in Riccall, 01757 248777, www.jpdavids-heat-it-york.co.uk

Walls and Floors, 01536 314730, www.wallsandfloors.co.uk

The Design House, 01904 628202, www.thedesignhouseyork.com