Cottage industry pays off

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This railway cottage is a real homemade home thanks to its handy owners. Sharon Dale reports on Lorraine Turnbull’s labour of love.

The TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp was feted for her Homemade Home series but her efforts pale into insignificance when compared with Lorraine Turnbull, who tackled everything from demolishing walls and mixing concrete to learning to crochet her own cushions from a film clip on YouTube.

The renovation of her stunning railway cottage was almost entirely DIY with help from family and friends who mucked in and imbued the house with a host of happy memories.

Everything from the kitchen worktop to the wallpaper has its own little story. “I had no idea how to wallpaper but the best man at our wedding is a painter and decorator so he gave me some tips. And my friend Janice is brilliant at it so she helped me put up the Dove and Squirrel wallpaper from Sanderson that’s in the hallway. It took a while because we started off with a bottle of wine,” says Lorraine.

Her brother Andrew manufactures bespoke furniture through his Sheffield-based company SOTA Interiors. “He made a coffee table for us and bespoked the new kitchen with Iroko and Corian worktops. My other brother Matt lived with us for a few months too and so he helped too, including putting in skirting boards.”

The work was fuelled with good wine and good food – cooked by her husband Bo, a builder and keen amateur chef.

Bo and Lorraine bought the property eight years ago with plans to create a two-storey grand design from the single storey cottage in a hamlet near Malton.

Planners thwarted their efforts so instead they worked with what they had, reconfiguring the higgledy piggledy interior, knocking down a lean-to and extending out at ground floor level.

“We loved the location and the site but the layout of the house was all wrong. Initially we moved in, painted everything magnolia and lived with it while we applied for planning consent.

“That was three years and four refusals before we decided to stick to single storey and make the best of it,” says Lorraine, who owns the Frock Exchange designer dress agency in Malton.

The years they had to consider their options were well spent as the new interior flows and is perfect for their sociable lifestyle. What was a lean-to and lounge is now an enormous sitting room with French doors onto a patio overlooking the railway line and countryside beyond. The old entrance hall is now a stunning dining room and the tiny kitchen and bedroom is now a large living kitchen with lovely views.

A side extension gave them a new wing with three bedrooms and a bathroom, including a stunning master suite. “It took us three years and four months to do everything. We did it in stages. Since Bo is a builder we had to wait till winter when business was quiet to do the major work to our own house. I design and he builds, but I’m very practical so he’d tell me what to do and I’d get on with it. It was great learning lots of new skills,” says Lorraine.

“I got a pair of steel-capped boots and some good wellies and got involved with everything from mixing the concrete to grouting and even knocking a wall down.

“Our friends and family were fabulous and Bo did some skill swaps with friends in other trades. They’d help us and then he’d give them a couple of days of his time in return.”

The Turnbulls moved out into a caravan in the garden for a year and nicknamed their temporary home “The Lodge”. Lorraine’s brother Andrew helped them convert the metal box into something comfortable and cosy.

They moved back into the house to carry on with the finishing touches. The furniture is a mix of new buys from favourite interiors shops including Stitches, Nine to Eleven and Indigo in Malton and salvage yard and car boot sale finds plus inherited pieces.

“I am a real magpie,” says Lorraine. “I’ll buy things that take my eye and then decide what to do with them later.”

The chairs are from Hutton-le-Hole car boot sale and cost her £1. They have been transformed thanks to tips she picked up at a furniture painting workshop at Ebberston.

She also converted an old wardrobe into a dining room cabinet, replacing the top panels with glass and painting it in shabby chic style.

There are lots of these clever, creative touches including the coffee table in the sitting room, which is an old dining table with its legs chopped down.

“It was hard to find a coffee table big enough but the old dining table was just the right size. We chopped the legs and I painted it,” says Lorraine.

In one guest bedroom she has used an old room divider as a headboard and sprayed an old brass mirror silver before putting it on a picture stand in the corner of the room. “There are mirrors everywhere. I love them because they help add light and their reflections are interesting.”

YouTube has proved helpful. Attic 24 on the site has “how to” videos, which taught Lorraine some crochet techniques and showed her how to make a buttoned cushion for her bedroom.

Her next project is the garden and she has lots of plans. “I have the ideas and Bo will cost them out and see if they are practical,” she says. “Then we’ll work together to make it happen.”

Useful contacts

RS Turnbull, building contractor Sinnington, tel 07710091081

S.O.T.A Interiors, bespoke furniture and fittings, Sheffield, tel: 01142 514011

MKM Building Suppliers Malton, tel: 01653 696000

Window Distribution, Malton, tel: 01653 600388

Indigo interiors, Malton, tel: 01653 697400

Nine to Eleven Interiors, Malton, tel: 01653 691444

Stitches soft furnishings, Malton, tel;: 01653 692227

Harrison Hargreaves, paint and wallpaper, Malton, tel: 01653 692579

Headboards and Interiors, upholstered black headboard in master bedroom, Leicester,