Decorated with friendship

Lorna Newton with her daughter Eliza and Elisa Cirulli
Lorna Newton with her daughter Eliza and Elisa Cirulli
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The renovation of this family home in Harrogate created a fabulous interior and a new friendship. Sharon Dale sees what made it all work together.

Renovating a house is hard enough but with a new baby and a toddler to look after it was doubly difficult for Lorna Newton, which is why she called for help.

Drafting in an interior designer was, she says, the best decision she made. Not only did it push the boundaries and bring fresh ideas, it was the catalyst for a deep friendship.

“She pushed me out of my comfort zone. I would never have made the choices I did without her help. Everything would’ve been boring magnolia and all the bathroom suites would’ve been the same,” says Lorna.

Now her home is alive with colour and interest thanks to Elisa Cirulli, who advised on everything from soft furnishings and sanitaryware to lighting and fittings.

Lorna and husband Matthew, who works in computer software, bought the property in March 2010 , after Garrington Home Finders located it for them.

The couple, who have two children, Thomas, four and Eliza, 22 months, had spent years living and working in Singapore and Malaysia and then Chicago.

“We wanted to settle back in Yorkshire to be close to family and we chose Harrogate because it’s such a great place.

“We knew this house was perfect but viewings had stopped after a kitchen fire. When they started again it felt like everyone wanted it. Viewings were every 20 minutes. Fortunately we were in a position to proceed immediately and we managed to secure it,” says Lorna, who adds: “There was no kitchen in because of the fire and it needed updating but it was a really special family home with a lovely feel to it.”

After getting the keys, they rented while they renovated and extended the property.

Architect Gary Pitchford designed a layout that suited their lifestyle and the old kitchen, sitting room and eating area were knocked into one and an orangerie built to create an enormous living kitchen with stunning bespoke units by Chapel Kitchens.

At the back, in what used to be the kitchen, is a playroom.

“We could have had a separate playroom elsewhere but the children always want to be with you so this works really well,” says Lorna.

A sun room was renovated and incorporated into the sitting room, while another ground floor room became a games room. A Velux window was installed to bring natural light to the stairway and upstairs, where there were seven bedrooms over the top two floors, there are now five bedrooms with two en-suites and two bathrooms plus a laundry room.

“We had a fantastic architect and superb builders which helped as I was heavily pregnant and then had a new baby and a toddler to look after while Matt was still working abroad,” says Lorna.

When the bulk of the building work was done, decorating was the next job. A neutral colour scheme would’ve been the easiest option, but Elisa insisted on colour, texture and pattern.

“I suggested some pink for the kitchen because it needed to feel more cosy and Matthew was alarmed but he went with it,” she says.

The Nina Campbell fabrics add warmth and match perfectly with the glass lights over the breakfast bar that Elisa found at the Rothschild and Bickers stand at the 100% Design exhibition in London.

“I love going to the design festival in London and to the Paris exhibitions because there are lots of young, new designers there. I prefer not to have a set account with suppliers because it can be limiting,” she says.

She also picks up ideas from her native Italy. She grew up there and after moving to Yorkshire with her husband, she retrained as interior designer, working for Laura Ashley before going it alone.

She persuaded the Newton’s to opt for tartan curtains in the games room and to change the pool table’s baize from green to straw coloured to match.

“It needed replacing anyway. So why not?,” she says.

After agonising about painting over the wood panelling in the hallway, she did and the area is much brighter and lighter as a result.

The stairs, which were a major selling point, were treated to a striped carpet from Crucial Trading.

One of Elisa’s main challenges was to build the scheme around existing furniture and rugs that Lorna and Matthew had collected in the Far East.

“We wanted to bring them with us. They were part of our life and there are memories attached,” says Lorna.

All the furniture in the master bedroom is from Singapore and the pale scheme around it matches perfectly with the dark wood.

Eliza’s bedroom is feminine thanks to Nina Campbell wallpaper and James Hare silks and her bathroom features a pink chair and rug.

“I chose that before she was born and I said to Lorna that she had to have girl. Thankfully she did and I am so thrilled she was named after me,” says Elisa.

Thomas’s room features an ABC wallpaper chosen by Matthew from internet-based

The whole project took nine months and the Victorian semi is now a sensational family home.

“I love it. Elisa’s ideas have made such a difference. I can’t see us ever moving,” says Lorna. “What’s wonderful is that Elisa and I spent so much time together we have become really close and I have a beautiful friendship with her.”