Gallery owner Lotte Inch has applied her artistic and curatorial skills to her terraced home in York. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Tony Johnson.
Asked about the biggest job she tackled during her recent home renovation, Lotte Inch has no hesitation in saying “the front door”.
Most people would’ve said the damp course, rewire and whole house redecoration, but gallery owner Lotte is highly visual and, for her, the most important task was getting rid of the ugly uPVC door.
“It was awful and depressed me every time I looked at it,” she says.
The new one, which was a house-warming present from her mother, is Victorian and solid wood from Period Pine Doors in Huby, while the number plaque on the wall was made by sculptor and stone carver Peter Coates, a family friend.
The new additions have transformed the outside of the three-bedroom terraced house that she and husband Dan bought a year ago. They had been renting in the area, liked it and spotted its potential as an up-and-coming hotspot.
Rental properties are being sold to owner-occupiers, there’s a decent coffee shop and it’s a 15-minute walk into the centre of York.
Like a lot of homes on the street, theirs had been a HMO (house in multiple occupation), so the loft had been converted but the decor was bland.
“On the surface it looked like it didn’t need any work but when we moved in we realised that it was damp and the electrics weren’t right so we had to spend money on that first,” says Lotte.
That left a minimal amount to spend on the furniture and furnishings, which she says is a “real mish-mash of stuff” bought from a variety of places, including Ikea, HomeSense, The Home at Salts Mill, Snow Home in York, designer makers and the York Community Store, which has some great second-hand furniture.
While it is eclectic, it is all well curated. The sitting room and dining room had been knocked into one but the areas have been zoned and have their own separate identities.
The sitting area includes their most extravagant purchases: a sofa from Made.com and an original Anglepoise lamp but there are some “cheap fixes” too. The Ikea chair has been given a new lease of life thanks to covers that have been dyed “goldfish orange” at a cost of £7.50. An old shelf found in Lotte’s mum’s shed has been repurposed as a mantelpiece by Dan, who has taught himself a raft of DIY skills.
The dining area features some of their favourite buys, including a 1960s Danish table teamed with some reproduction retro chairs and an optician’s eye test light box. The latter is a talking point and was bought from a vintage store.“We used to live in a house that had been a dentist surgery so we started collecting old medical equipment, like conical flasks and the light box was part of that phase,” says Lotte, who revamped the kitchen with fresh paint and more storage shelves and hooks for pans, as both she and Dan love cooking.
They also splashed out on new light fittings from Barnitts and Snow Home in York and from Made.com
“I never thought I’d spend £150 on a light fitting but it’s a great investment as good lighting makes all the difference,” says Dan.
It also helps highlight their huge collection of art. Some of the paintings are Lotte’s own work, while others are by favourite artists, such as Peter Green, Peter Miller and Jonny Hannah.
“The walls are full of pictures but there is always room for more,” says Lotte, who owns the Lotte Inch gallery on Bootham.
She founded it after a few years in the career wilderness searching for the perfect job. After studying History of Art and Design at university, she helped the National Trust set up a gallery in a historic house, worked as a marketing and events officer for a gallery in Leeds, had a spell in Paris managing a bakery and made cakes for The House of Trembling Madness pub in York, where she met Dan.
“It wasn’t a wasted time. I learned a lot and I met Dan but I couldn’t find a job I really wanted to do so I decided to make my own,” she says.
She did organise some pop-up galleries but founded her permanent base in what used to be Seymour’s the tailors in Bootham.
She opened it almost two years ago and it is now a popular destination thanks to its interesting contemporary exhibitions and the fact that it is on the York Art Map – a gallery trail she helped to establish.
“I don’t stock or represent specific artists, I curate exhibitions and they’re often themed,” says Lotte.
She has a fondness for Modern British art and for contemporary printmakers and is thrilled with her latest show, the Summer Spectacular. It runs until September 16 and features some of Britain’s best-loved printmakers from the St Jude’s design and textile brand. They include Mark Hearld, Emily Sutton, Angie Lewin, Jonny Hannah and Clive Hicks.
At the moment, she is pouring most of her profits back into the business but she has one more major project in mind for her house. “I’d love to replace the plastic windows with wooden sashes to match the door. That is top of the ‘to do’ list.”
Summer Spectacular featuring work by the St Jude’s printmakers runs at the Lotte Inch Gallery, Bootham, York, until September 16, www.lotteinch.co.uk.