Colour and fabrics are Diana Krawczuk’s speciality and she used them to make a newly renovated house feel like home. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Scott Merrylees.
A newly renovated property offers a “turnkey package”, which means you can move in with nothing to do but unpack. However, Diana Krawczuk isn’t the average buyer. She is a colour and soft furnishings specialist, so when she got the keys to her cottage in Holmfirth, the first thing she did was whip out a paint chart and tape measure so she could plan a whole new look.
“It is two weavers’ cottages knocked into one and there are three open staircases so the colours on the walls really needed to flow,” says Diana, who replaced “builders’ magnolia” with Farrow and Ball.
“I painted the window frames in All White as this reflects the light well. All the skirting boards and radiators are painted the same colour as the walls as this creates a less fragmented look and gives the effect of a higher ceiling.”
The wood finish internal doors were treated to a coat of Old White, along with Jim Lawrence ironmongery. An exposed piece of plywood used on the stairs was cleverly disguised by artist Angela Maclagan, who painted a faux stone effect onto it.
Diana’s own clever mix of paint colours and fabrics play a major part in the kitchen.
The walls, skirting boards and radiator in the kitchen are in Pointing, while the units are in Fawn and Clunch. The island unit from John Lewis of Hungerford has a coat of Lichen, while an old cupboard she inherited is now Shaded White.
The walls are decorated with artwork, including a hare print by Nicole Fenwick of Fenwick Gallery in Warkworth , Northumberland. “I love it because it reminds me of holidaying in Northumberland, where I always see lots of hares. The colours of the print mirror those in my garden and the fields beyond,” says Diana, who also framed a tea towel from Salts Mill in Saltaire, featuring David Hockney’s dachshund. She shares Hockney’s love of the breed and has her own, Gertie.
Diana, who runs DK Designs, made the Roman blind in Emily Bond Green Artichoke linen and upcycled dining chairs she found at auction to match her enormous table, which once graced her father’s boardroom.
The laundry room is a great lesson in how to maximise a small space. Cupboard doors under the sink were replaced with curtains made from a vintage French linen sheet. This made the shelves more accessible. “The wall cupboard is one my mother couldn’t wait to be rid of as she wanted a fitted kitchen. It is the first piece of furniture I renovated 30 years ago,” adds Diana.
It’s now home to eco-friendly Mangle and Wringer cleaning and laundry products from online store Plain Useful also based in the Holme Valley.
The sitting room, whose focal point is a painting by local artist Debbie George, is also testament to creative use of old furniture. The display cabinet is an auction find, the chairs belonged to Diana mother and the small sofa was bought from an antique shop 30 years ago for £30 and re-upholstered.
“I prefer sofas with legs as this creates a feeling of space,” says Diana, who made the cushions from Kate Forman stripe fabric, piped in Vanessa Arbuthnott linen.
The curtains are in Arbuthnott’s beautiful Fern and Dragonfly fabric, chosen because it contains only two colours. “I did not want eyes to stop at the windows but to be drawn to the views beyond and I find that simpler designs with fewer colours achieve this. Heavily patterned fabrics with lots of colour are very limiting and you get tired of them,” adds Diana.
The steps to the top floor are home to her father’s army boots and a vintage travel box bought at auction, while an old Indian glass cabinet from Lost and Found in Holmfirth is a feature in the once boring bathroom, which also boasts an old cabinet repainted and lined in linen.
The north-facing guest room was warmed with Farrow and Ball’s Clunch, and a stack of suitcases belonging to Diana’s father and grandfather act as a bedside table. Her grandad’s linen cupboard adds character and on top of it is a Marshall and Snelgrove hat box that belonged to her mother.
“It’s lovely to have these little reminders. They are what make a house a home,” says Diana, who inherited her sewing skills from her mother.
Her speciality is window dressing, which is hand-finished with no visible stitching. She has turned it into an art form, blending clever design with practicality. A good example are the curtains in her bedroom, which are thickly interlined to block out the light and act as insulators.
Diana made them in her large workroom, where she designs and sews in favourite fabrics by Vanessa Arbuthnott, Emily Bond, Ian Mankin, Kate Forman, Thornback and Peel and Vanessa Arbuthnott. “I like to support British design and manufacturing whenever possible,” she says
She encourages clients to look for longevity and has a strict “less is more” policy when it comes to pattern books, paint cards and samples.
One of her favourite fabrics is Emily Bond’s red dachshund, which she used to make Gertie’s bed. Diana has also had parts of the house and garden adapted to suit her dog’s extra-short legs.
“She can’t do steps so I had an anti-slip ramp built for her so she could get down into the garden,” says Diana, who gave the outside space a major makeover. She had an engineered wall built to create a second terrace and installed French windows and a balcony leading from the kitchen to the garden.
“The house and garden now have a far more fluid feel and that’s what it was all about,” she says. “I wanted to create flow and continuity and somewhere that feels calm and restful.”