his­tory les­son

When Lara Fawcett and her hus­band James in­her­ited his child­hood home, their big­gest chal­lenge was to pre­serve its past while giv­ing it a more mod­ern look

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - Fea­ture HEATHER DIXON | Pho­tog­ra­phy DAVID BUR­TON

Pre­serv­ing the her­itage of this York­shire home was a class act

When Lara and James Fawcett moved into their pe­riod home on the out­skirts of Leeds, they were faced with a ma­jor chal­lenge. Cuf­forth House had been in James’s fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions, so find­ing a bal­ance be­tween pre­serv­ing the in­tegrity of the prop­erty while mak­ing their own mark was their main concern. ‘ We wanted to re­spect the his­tory of the house, which held such spe­cial mem­o­ries for my hus­band and his par­ents,’ says Lara, ‘ but we also wanted to make some changes that showed our in­di­vid­ual style and ideas.’

Lara took a prag­matic ap­proach, dec­o­rat­ing one room at a time, in­tro­duc­ing mod­ern fur­ni­ture and colour schemes while re­tain­ing the prop­erty’s pe­riod feel. ‘I didn’t have a grand plan,’ she says. ‘It just evolved nat­u­rally, grow­ing with our chil­dren, Mungo, 19, Be­van, 17, and Tal­lu­lah, 15, and en­com­pass­ing every­thing we’ve ac­cu­mu­lated over the years. We’re a busy fam­ily, but the fo­cus of our daily lives has al­ways re­volved around our home.’

With high ceil­ings and pe­riod fea­tures to contend with, mak­ing the large rooms bright, yet warm and com­fort­able could have proved a dif­fi­cult task. But not for Lara – she had lived in a manor be­fore and so was used to think­ing on a big scale. ‘Every­thing has to bal­ance,’ she says. ‘You have to use the height of the room as well as the foot­print to make it work. The win­dows were prob­a­bly the trick­i­est to deal with, be­cause there are so many, and it would have cost a for­tune to buy new cur­tains for them all, so I brought the cur­tains from our last house and short­ened them to fit the win­dows here.’

Neu­tral hues were cho­sen for the walls and large pieces of fur­ni­ture, along with a host of colour­ful ac­ces­sories. ‘I like lay­er­ing,’ says Lara, ‘whether it’s fab­rics, pho­to­graphs, paint­ings or heir­looms.’ She has re­sisted the urge to paint the wood pan­elling in the en­trance hall or mod­ernise the orig­i­nal – and in some cases or­nate – fixtures and fit­tings. ‘I wanted to re­spect every­thing James’s fam­ily had done to the house over the years,’ she ex­plains.

With the chil­dren now all teenagers and spend­ing more time away from home, Lara and James want to make sure the house is used to its full po­ten­tial. ‘James grew up here and loved com­ing back with his own brood, but as they’ve got older we find our­selves rat­tling around,’ says Lara. ‘This house is meant to be lived in, so we now some­times of­fer it as a place for peo­ple to get to­gether for spe­cial events. It has al­ways been a lively home and we are so pleased to see that tra­di­tion con­tinue.’

de­sign tip ‘A neu­tral pal­ette will bring out the best in pe­riod fea­tures and still al­low you to per­son­alise a room. So don’t feel con­strained – be bold with ac­ces­sories and fab­rics’

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