- Sharon Lomas
my home stories : creating my biophilic palette - part 1, sitting room
It was exactly one year ago today we first viewed our house. How fast has that year gone!
We had just returned from visiting Cumbria the previous week for a second viewing of a house near Coniston. We had fallen in love with an old Lakeland stone house which came with a successful Air B&B log cabin - just ripe for a decorative overhaul. We were very excited as the potential was huge, even though it would also come with a hefty mortgage. We were in the process of preparing an offer when our now home popped up on Rightmove as a rental. There was just something about it, we felt compelled to view it.
We set off from the Peak District through the tail end of Storm Ciara at 7am. We almost didn't come, worried about chaos on the roads and travelling the 2.5 hours up to the northern end of the Lake District. But if I've learned one thing as I get older its to listen to my gut, the roads were fine, a good omen.
From the minute the house came into view, before we had even seen inside, we were in love. Even though the previous tenants were mid-move and the place was half empty, half packing chaos we just had "that" feeling from the moment we stepped through the front door.
The house was built in 1861 for a local brewery owner, I am a sucker for Victorian character properties and this place is packed with them. The staircase which wasn't shown on the agents details just blew us away, as did the sandstone fireplace, original wooden floors, high ceilings and well proportioned rooms. After living in a two bedroom flat above our old shop this was all the space we could ever dream of and it had a garden.
We only visited Caldbeck for the first time the previous September while staying in Bassenthwaite. The manager of our holiday cottage suggested a trip out which took in the back of the Northern Fells, views over to Dumfries & Galloway, open moorlands and a string of pretty little villages. She recommended the pub in Caldbeck for lunch and this is how we came to visit, if she hadn't spoken to us that day we may never have ventured this far north and discovered this wonderful little community.
Having never explored the most northeastern region of the Lakes before, we were instantly smitten. It has all the beauty of the Lake District landscape but without the hoards of tourists in the other honeypot villages. It feels remote (which we like) yet is only 15 miles from Keswick and Penrith.
It was a gut instinct that this house was meant for us, we needed to act fast because of the competition, so we hot footed it straight to the agents in Carlisle and put in an application. All thoughts of the house near Coniston were gone in an instant, like it never existed. Turns out listening to our intuition saved us from taking on a property and holiday business with a big mortgage just as the Corona virus struck the UK sending the whole country in to a national lockdown. The universe was definitely watching out for us and leading us to where we were meant to be.
I already had a lot of ideas of how I wanted to decorate ( aka dozens of Pinterest boards and every waking minute since the property was listed spent dreaming up designs) and being a rental we have been very lucky to find a landlord that allowed us to do so. I wanted to bring to life the ideas for recreating my favourite natural spaces within the decor. The reason we moved to Cumbria was our love of the vast green spaces, the fells, ancient woodlands and of course the actual lakes.
I started with an inspiration board to visualise the elements of the landscape I love most. Places, colours, textures and seasons that make me happy and most relaxed when out in nature. The moss growing on dry stone wall, lush woodlands with every shade of green, a touch of autumn warmth, and of course the Lakes and Fells.
We are also blessed that this house has two windows in most of the rooms which frame views of woodland, pastures, big skies and fells. I wanted to feel cocooned by these colours, textures and natural views, bringing them inside to replicate how they make me feel when I am outside within them. This is my way of creating tranquility and mental wellbeing in my home.
Armed with an overarching vision for the house, I decided I wanted to make the sitting room my first project. Next I pulled together more specific ideas into a mood board, using furniture styles & accessories I already had such as a mid-century sideboard, old dolly tub, collection of green glassware and plants along with the pieces I wanted to complete the look like the sofa, rug, paint colour and curtains.
Even though I had exactly in my minds eye the look I wanted, it is always good practice to represent it visually before you start implementing. Seeing design ideas together is a great way to ensure the overall concept works and if any elements don't feel right, it's a good time to make any adjustments. Creating a mood board is also a great reference to stay on brief when it comes to purchasing the key pieces for a scheme.
Once this process was complete I was ready to get started. In part two of this post I will share how and why I chose the specific details of my design which transformed the sitting room from a bland box in to my perfect green, nature inspired sanctuary.