Semi that went full circle

Cathryn in her workshop
Cathryn in her workshop
Have your say

Smart use of space and a stylish makeover transformed a dated semi into a beautiful family home. Sharon Dale finds out what it involved.

Swapping her much-loved cottage for a former local authority semi brought mixed emotions for Cathryn Turner.

The three-bedroom, pebble dashed property was far from her dream home but the location was excellent, plus it had space and potential, along with lots of happy memories.

“The house belonged to my granny and when she died I got the option of buying it at a reasonable price. It made perfect sense because I was pregnant with my second child and we desperately needed somewhere bigger. It was in the same village as our cottage, near a good local school and it had a garden,” she says.

“In an ideal world I would have preferred a barn or a farmhouse like the one I grew up in but that wasn’t an option.”

Instead, Cathryn and her husband Simon, who have three children, Isaac, seven, Kitty, four, and Minny, two, came up with a plan to transform the dated 1950s house in Gargrave, near Skipton, into the perfect family home.

They began by rewiring, replumbing and replastering, carefully retaining and restoring the best period features. These included the internal doors, which had been covered with plywood, picture rails and a useful built-in cupboard in the sitting room. The old kitchen was ripped out and replaced with units and appliances from Ikea.

“That was a great buy at just over £2,500 and it made a big difference,” says Cathryn.

The enormous kitchen table is from one of her favourite shopping haunts, Eastburn Country Furniture, near Skipton, which specialises in bespoke and reclaimed furniture.

The couple also added a conservatory, which is now used as a playroom, and a garage, which is attached to the side of the house.

Upstairs, they refurbished the three bedrooms and installed a new bathroom from Bathstore.

Most of the furniture and furnishings came from their cottage, including the sofa and lamp by Laura Ashley. The curtains are from Next and some of the pictures and ornaments are from Skipton Antiques Centre.

“I have always liked a cottagey style and that’s the look I wanted here, though I have bought quite a bit from Ikea, especially for the children’s rooms. I love their designs,” she says.

Although big enough for the family of five, space soon became an issue again when Cathryn, a former marketing expert, started a home-based business.

“I gave up work when I was pregnant with Isaac but I really wanted to start again doing something that would fit in with the children,” she says.

She came up the idea for Florence and Grace, a website selling handmade soft furnishings and decorations that she can personalise for customers.

“I was a textile designer before I went into marketing but I didn’t know how to sew. When I came up with Florence and Grace I was determined to learn. I got a machine and taught myself how to use it mainly through You Tube, which was brilliant. Then I started thinking up my own designs.

“I even managed to build the website myself.”

Her cushions start from £14.50, and her best-selling hair clip tidies are £9.

At first, everything was made at the kitchen table, which doubled as her workshop. She sewed in the evening and had to clear everything away ready for breakfast time.

The clutter was a problem and the solution was to build a first-floor extension above the attached garage.

Simon, who works in construction and is adept at DIY, organised the project, while Cathryn concentrated on the decorating and the design.

The result is a large master bedroom and en-suite, with furniture from Eastburn Country Furniture and her own bunting and cushions.

“I found the old wardrobe at Eastburn and it was dark brown but they agreed to paint it the same colour as the bedside cabinets I’d already bought from them. I’m thrilled with it.

“I love this part of the house. It’s a sanctuary for us at the end of the day.”

It also left her with a spare bedroom that she turned into a studio.

The work bench is an inexpensive Ikea table that cost £17and is sturdy enough for her Janome sewing machine. Shelving holds her colour co-ordinated piles of fabrics and jars of buttons.

“Having this room has made a big difference. It’s given me a lot more space and freedom and given me more ideas. I’m just about to start making a patchwork quilt,” says Cathryn, who is a big of fan 
of designer-maker Poppy Treffry and 
has a passion for Cath Kidston 

The dedicated space and increased confidence in her sewing abilities has already led to expansion plans for her new family-friendly career.

She and her friend Gillian Murgatroyd, who runs Ilkley-based, making ceramic plaques and wall hangings, have invested in a vintage caravan they have named Vera.

The cute 1973 Munsterland van was found on the website Cathryn and Gillian are giving the caravan a makeover in pink and white and plan to use her as a mobile shop at markets and fetes, as well as hiring her out for weddings and parties.

“It’s really exciting. It’s a bit like this house was,” says Cathryn. “It’s a box that we’re going to put some character into.”