A superior interior

Amalia Barton and Antony Booker at their home in Manor Close, Beverley.
Amalia Barton and Antony Booker at their home in Manor Close, Beverley.
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This 1960s house looks ordinary from the outside but the inside is full of surprises thanks to an inspired makeover. Sharon Dale reports.

The 1960s house at the head of a small cul-de-sac wasn’t architecture’s finest hour and its owners are the first to admit it.

From the outside, it looks like thousands of other drab and featureless properties that contrast with the excitement of their era. “It’s not what we were looking for but it gave us the space we wanted and it meant we could walk to work,” says Amalia Booker, who opens the front door onto an eye-poppingly fabulous interior.

The home she shares with partner Antony Barton is a lesson in why we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The once characterless rooms have been transformed into stylish, contemporary living spaces furnished with a combination of vintage and modern pieces that add personality and create interest.

“We could see that it had potential and we were just desperate to buy somewhere,” says Antony.

Buying the house in Beverley was part of a radical plan to ditch the nine-to-five for a new lifestyle.

Amalia, who worked in the social housing sector, and Antony, who was in banking, had climbed the career ladder and were living in a converted barn in Huddersfield when they decided they wanted a new way of living and working.

The couple, who met at school in Kent and went on to study at Huddersfield University, were keen to see more of each other and to work for themselves. “We made the decision one night and within a year everything had changed. We put it down to a few too many glasses of red wine and my impulsiveness,” says Amalia.

“We chose Beverley because we had friends there and for some reason the sun always seemed to be shining when we visited, which made it look even nicer.”

The sale of the barn seven years ago helped fund a smaller house, shop premises and stock to sell in their homeware and gift store Amanti. With an eye for great design plus Antony’s financial skills and a lot of hard work it has been a big success.

Amanti now attracts customers from all over Yorkshire and sells everything from Fama furniture from Spain to Joseph Joseph kitchenware and work by local artists and designers. “Friends and family thought we were mad to give up good jobs to do this but some things are more important than money and we now do something we can both be enthusiastic about,” says Amalia.

“Getting the shop established has been pleasurable but hard work. We do six or seven days a week and we haven’t had a fortnight’s holiday together since we opened up,” says Amalia.

That has been a big sacrifice, as the couple love to travel and their holidays are evident throughout their house, which is full of travel books, magazines, prints and finds from Africa and Asia.

But before they could add these trimmings they had to renovate and revamp the three-bedroom property. Having always lived in older houses it proved a challenge, but they started by getting rid of the 1970s bathrooms suite, replacing the hot air central heating and replastering.

To create a better flow, they took the kitchen doors off to leave an opening onto the dining room, which is furnished with a dining table from Ethnikraft and some vintage pieces, including a kitchenette from eBay that provides useful storage and an old table that makes the perfect desk.

The adjoining study now has bespoke, built-in storage for books and for Antony’s collection of vinyl records, along with a desk for the laptop.

This leads to the open plan sitting room, where the gas fire has been replaced by an open fire.

“That’s something we had to spend quite a bit on as we needed a flue liner but it was well worth it because a real fire is so lovely to come home to,” says Amalia, who also created a reading area furnished with a retro bookcase.

The blend of old and new continues upstairs, which is home to a petite 1950s dressing table that cost just £25. Browsing vintage and antique shops is a favourite pastime and one of their favourite haunts is Hemswell Antiques in Lincolnshire.

The old furniture adds character and contrasts well with the modern art. The walls are panted in soft whites, greys and blues and are livened up with framed posters and and colourful lino prints by local artist Claire West.

Wall clocks are another passion. “They’re an addiction for us and it doesn’t help that we sell them because we’re always tempted to bring them home,” says Antony, who is busy on the latest project.

The back garden was another bonus and plans for its new look are promising.

“The house does look quite dull from the front but it means the inside and the garden is always a surprise,” says Antony.

“I quite like that this place isn’t what it seems from the outside.”

Amanti is at 15 Wednesday Market, Beverley, www.amantidirect.co.uk