The couple who tried and tested their Ripon home before buying

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There is always a shortage of big, beautiful homes for sale in Ripon and that’s because those who live in the pretty cathedral city like to stay put.

It may not be a property hotspot like neighbouring Harrogate but it has everything from a top class grammar school and independent shops to a racecourse, river and the A1 and the Dales on the doorstep.

“I think the fact people don’t often move much makes it hard to find a good house here,” says Nik Hill, who grew up in the town.

The sitting room with table by Baytree, cushions and sofa from Voyage Maison

The sitting room with table by Baytree, cushions and sofa from Voyage Maison

He and his wife, Laura, abandoned their own search for the perfect home and resigned themselves to renting.

The decision was taken reluctantly but turned out for the best when the landlord decided to put the historic, riverside property up for sale. “We had been here for two years and we loved the house.

“We were really pleased when we got the chance to buy it,” says Laura. “It has a lovely feel and the location couldn’t be better. It’s close to the rugby pitch and a five minute walk into town.”

Concerns about the river that runs next to their home were allayed by new flood defences and the fact the previous owner had filled the cellar with cement. They also reasoned that the building had already withstood centuries of bad weather.

The dining table was made from an existing base and a large MDF top that was wallpapered. The flowers are from Oasis in Ripon

The dining table was made from an existing base and a large MDF top that was wallpapered. The flowers are from Oasis in Ripon

Full of charm and character, it was owned by the church until 30 years ago and sits on a lane that was once the main route from Ripon cathedral to Fountains Abbey.

While the landlord, a builder, had already renovated the property, Nik and Laura were keen to make changes.

They have owned the house for a year and have completely redecorated it. They also plan to extend to give them six bedrooms, as between them they have five children.

Furnishing such a large home won’t be a problem. Nik runs homeware design and import business Baytree Interiors, which sells furniture, lighting and decorative accessories.

The suit of armour affectionately known as George. He lives in the downstairs loo

The suit of armour affectionately known as George. He lives in the downstairs loo

He is a second generation furniture trader. His parents ran an antiques business trading as The Curiosity Shops in North Yorkshire in the 1970s before diversifying into imported reproduction furniture then giftware.

Nik joined his mother and father in the firm when he left school at 16 and has helped grow the business. Baytree Interiors now has its own homeware design team and, along with its wholesale operation, it has 13 stores, including eight in Yorkshire.

Although he is MD and has driven the firm forward into the 21st century, he still consults his mum.

“She is amazing and she has a great eye for design so I always ask for her opinion. She’s still very much involved in the business and it is an exciting time. We are looking to grow to 20 stores in the north and we are now designing our ranges rather than just importing products,” he says.

The bedroom mirror is from Baytree Interiors

The bedroom mirror is from Baytree Interiors

This has enabled them to specify smaller pieces of furniture to fit modern homes, which have less square footage than their period counterparts.

Their own house is the perfect showcase for their wares and is used for photo shoots for their website.

“If I like something in the showroom I’ll bring it home,” says Laura, whose latest find is a “teacup” lamp.

Nik often brings home clocks and his design contribution to the kitchen is a montage of his favourite.

While most of their furniture is Baytree, Laura and Nik also have pieces from Castle Reproductions in Ripon and from Laura Ashley. The sofas and cushions are from Voyage Maison, most of the wallpaper is from Brindley’s in Harrogate and the bed linen is all from The White Company.

The dresser in the kitchen was a vintage buy and is well-stocked with Laura’s favourite Emma Bridgewater pottery.

The house belonged to the church until it was bought 30 years ago

The house belonged to the church until it was bought 30 years ago

The couple also added a few of their favourite treasures. Laura brought a collection of prints and paintings and a fabulous chandelier in the hallway.

Nicks brought his antique grandfather clock and a suit of armour. The latter is from his spin-off business that specialises in reproduction militaria, which is sold to re-enactment societies.

His own life-size suit of armour, affectionately known as “George”, lives in the downstairs loo and is a talking point.

“It’s a bit of fun though George did once traumatise a small child who was visiting us,” says Laura, who has customised some of her furniture.

She has painted some of it in Farrow and Ball’s soft whites and greys and treated the piano to the same makeover. She also came up with the idea of making an extra-large dining table using an existing base and a new MDF top that she covered in wallpaper.

While the backdrop and furniture is in fashionable neutrals, colour comes 
from fresh flowers from Oasis, a local florist

Laura, who used to live in Leeds, says it is one of the benefits of living in a small town with an abundance of friendly, independent shops.

“I love it here and so does Nik,” she says. “I doubt we’ll ever move.”

* Useful Contacts

Baytree Interiors, baytree-interiors.co.uk

Laura Ashley, lauraashley.com

Castle Reproductions furniture, North Street, Ripon

The White Company, thewhitecompany.com

James Brindley, Harrogate, jamesbrindley.com

Oasis florists, Ripon, oasisfloristsripon.co.uk

Emma Bridgewater pottery, emmabridgewater.co.uk

Voyage Maison, sofas and cushions, voyagemaison.co.uk