A work of art and soul transforms couple’s Yorkshire home

The dining area with a new glazed sliding door to the sitting room. ''Blown away' metal work figure on window sill by Jim Bond''. Black and white spotty bowl by Charlotte Morrison.
The dining area with a new glazed sliding door to the sitting room. ''Blown away' metal work figure on window sill by Jim Bond''. Black and white spotty bowl by Charlotte Morrison.
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Two talented makers have spent the last decade transforming this 1970s house in Holmfirth.

Saving up £1,000 for a new oven and hob took Victoria Robinson a great deal of time and effort but she has no regrets about splurging the lot on a picture instead.

The house was built in 1974 with a butterfly roof tha minimises the noise of the wind

The house was built in 1974 with a butterfly roof tha minimises the noise of the wind

It was a wise decision, even though it meant many more months of cooking on a camping stove. She and her husband, Tristram Thirkell, never tire of the pen drawing by Jamie Frost. It has pride of place in their dining room and, unlike the oven, it will last a lifetime and longer.

“I just thought it was amazing and I know I’ll always treasure it. Original art brings so much to a home. It has resonance, it’s completely unique and it adds soul,” says Victoria, whose home in Holmfirth is full of pictures, sculptures and handmade furniture and lighting.

She and Tristram met on a furniture making course but have since diversified. Victoria has designed and made lighting, and designs dresses that are made by her mum. She also specialises in installations while Tristram is a builder and sculpts in metal. Temptation to buy is always in her path as she and ceramicist Emily Stubbs organise the Art& show in York.

The event, which runs next weekend, October 26 to 28, at York Racecourse, grew from the popular Art Market, which began in Holmfirth. It is carefully curated and features more than 120 artists selling everything from paintings, pots and textiles to sculptures, jewellery and furniture.

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

There are also demonstrations, workshops, installations and five room sets.

“The room sets are new for this year and they feature work by some of the artists and makers who are exhibiting. It shows how wonderfully original art can work in a home and it doesn’t have to be expensive. We have artists selling items from £10,” says Victoria.

Her own home is almost as she visualised it would be when she and Tristram embarked on a mammoth renovation project. They bought the 1970s house 10 years ago after admiring its location on top of a hill with spectacular views. They also liked its retro style and large picture windows.

The couple knew that they 
couldn’t afford to renovate it all at 
once and, rather than compromise, 
they have waited patiently and saved 
until they could afford the fit-out they wanted.

Kitchen cabinets by SW Interiors. The room is full of art including 'the turquoise figure on the window sill by Carine Brosse; a metal cat by Tristram Thirkell, a  ceramic bull dog in window sill by Brendan Hesmondhalgh; a fabric doll on top of the clock by Gillian Lee Smith and lamps by Victoria.

Kitchen cabinets by SW Interiors. The room is full of art including 'the turquoise figure on the window sill by Carine Brosse; a metal cat by Tristram Thirkell, a ceramic bull dog in window sill by Brendan Hesmondhalgh; a fabric doll on top of the clock by Gillian Lee Smith and lamps by Victoria.

“I still can’t believe we live here as I thought it was well above our budget but it was for sale for a long time and it kept coming down in price until we could afford it.

“It was very dated but we couldn’t afford to do much to it at first, so we spent a lot of time shivering as it was freezing,” says Victoria

Among the first jobs was insulating and reboarding the interiors and modernising the electrics and plumbing. The heating had run on oil so that was swapped for gas.

As the couple both work from home, the garage was quickly turned into a workshop for Tristram and a shed was built to house Victoria’s studio.

The bedroom with new doors onto the garden.Tristram made the bedside cabinets and Victoria made the plywood chair and stool.

The bedroom with new doors onto the garden.Tristram made the bedside cabinets and Victoria made the plywood chair and stool.

While they were warned that the unusual butterfly-shaped roof on the house would leak, it has always been sound and was designed that way for a reason.

“It acts as a sound barrier for the wind as it is very high and windy here. It works as we can’t hear it at all but the neighbours who have conventional roofs can hear the wind howling,” says Victoria.

The property is an upside-down house with four bedrooms and a bathroom, and utility room on the ground floor. The original staircase has been preserved and leads to the living space on the upper floor. This has been reconfigured to create a more open-plan feel.

The separate kitchen and dining room are now one L-shaped space with a large sliding door leading into the sitting room.

Bringing in more views and even more natural light into the house was a priority so all the solid internal doors have been replaced with glass ones.

What was the end wall of the kitchen is now a floor-to-ceiling window and there are new bi-fold doors from the sitting room onto the terrace and French doors in the bedroom that lead on to the garden.

The leopard on top of the antique drawers is by Tristram Thirkell, also taking part in art&York . All lamps were made by Victoria and the sofa is by Made.com

The leopard on top of the antique drawers is by Tristram Thirkell, also taking part in art&York . All lamps were made by Victoria and the sofa is by Made.com

“We have tried to make sure that nothing competes with the views, so the decor is pared down,” says Victoria.

The kitchen cabinets are a case in point. The couple designed and fitted them and they were made by SW Interiors.

“It took us a long time to save up for that. We made do with the original kitchen for ages but I hated it and said I’d rather have just a camping stove. We ripped it out and I made do with that camping stove for longer than expected due to buying a beautiful drawing,” she says.

They did, however, manage to acquire engineered oak flooring, which comes with added meaning.

“We got married and asked everyone who wanted to get us a present to buy us a floorboard. Our friends and family put messages and pictures on underneath them so if anyone ever takes them up that’s what they’ll find.”

Furniture is a mix of new and vintage buys and handcrafted items. The drawers in the sitting room are from a gentlemen’s club and belonged to Victoria’s grandfather and the sideboard in the bedroom was a bargain £20 from a charity shop, while the dining table was £10 and the Ercol chairs were £2 each from a junk shop.

Their best bargain, the wood-burning stove worth £3,000, was also found on eBay for £800 and the entire bathroom suite was also from the auction site.

Their own skills were put to good use with Tristram doing most of the building work himself. He also made many of the sculptures in the house, along with the Iroko bench in the kitchen, and the floating bedside cabinets, while Victoria made the lamps and the plywood chair and stool in the bedroom. The next job is sprucing up the exterior of the house and adding ceiling lights upstairs.

They are saving to buy a plywood light from Neb Abbott, who is exhibiting at the Art& show.

“Like everything else, it will be worth the wait.” says Victoria.

The Art& show 2018 is run over three days from Friday, October 25 to Sunday, October 28. It features work for sale by over 120 artists with prices ranging from £10 to £10,000.

The event offers the chance to meet the artists, and buying direct also cuts the cost as there is no gallery commission. Co-organiser Victoria Robinson says: “Whenever you buy a piece of work, you support an independent artist to keep on making, painting, drawing and sculpting their amazing creations.”

There is everything from glass and ceramics to painting and drawing, jewellery and textiles, sculpture and stonework. The event includes a RAW Talent section featuring 12 emerging artists who have won a place on the six-month mentoring and supporting scheme.

Tickets are £6.50 for adults, £5.50 for concessions and under 14s go free. www.artand.co.uk.