Catherine Loft has created a serene and welcoming family home using uplifting shades of white
Sticking to an all-white palette has brought an ethereal feel to this York townhouse
When Catherine and Geoff Loft decided to return to the UK after two decades of living abroad, they already had a location in mind – York. They had their eye on a four-storey property in a quiet corner of the city, where rows of tall townhouses are modelled on London’s beautiful Victorian and Georgian squares, with a communal garden at their centre.
‘My sister Sarah came to the viewing and fell for it, too,’ says Catherine. ‘She said: “You know, I think I might want to move here!”, and I said, “Well, I’d prefer one of the bigger ones, so I’ll wait for one of those to come onto the market.” I was crossing my fingers that one would, and thankfully it did, and now Sarah and I are neighbours.’
Having had nine different homes in locations from Australia to Dubai, Catherine trusts her instincts. ‘ With each one I’ve lived in, I knew immediately it was the right place as soon as I stepped across the threshold,’ she says.
Behind Catherine and Geoff’s home are fields where sheep graze, giving it an appealing sense of openness. Inside, though, it was a different story. The first-floor living space had been carved up into several rooms with a colour scheme that made it feel small and enclosed.
‘It felt as if it was all walls and doors, and it was dark,’ she says. ‘We immediately decided to open it all up, get rid of the double doors and make one huge living area. All the greys and the purples had to go, too. Now that it’s been opened up, and decorated in white, it looks light and happy again.’
Paring back, redesigning and redecorating the four-storey house took five months. Since the Lofts were still living in Dubai, it was down to designer and builder Paul Johnson of Room room Interiors in Harrogate to keep Catherine up to speed on progress.
‘Paul was online all the time, whenever I had a question,’ she says, ‘and I could always send Sarah over. You do feel a little out of control
being so far away, but Paul really appreciated that I felt the need to be aware of what was going on.’
Now, the open-plan kitchen, living and dining space takes full advantage of the tall double French doors, which invite in masses of light. The clean lines, pale wooden flooring and carefully chosen large-scale furniture are fresh and modern. On the floor above, a combination of cool limestone and painted furniture in the refitted master suite dressing room and shower room gives a similarly spacious and contemporary look.
When it came to decoration, Catherine opted for her signature style: layers of white in subtly shifting tones, with stone-coloured accents, lots of texture to add variety and bright artwork for a dash of colour. ‘I think white is so uplifting – it can be both relaxing and contemporary. You can always add colour, and if you’re worrying about things getting dirty, it’s a reason to use gorgeous throws – they make everything look better.’
The couple also invested in statement lighting to suit the scale of the space, with crystal pendants to emphasise the high ceilings and sculptural table lights. ‘I’ve never had chandeliers before,’ she says. ‘I used to take them down in houses, preferring to have something flush instead, but now I love them as a feature. They add an element of glamour, a bit of bling and a touch of vibrancy to the stark white.’ As beautiful as the house now looks, Catherine still loves to change things around regularly. ‘I tend to live with it a little, then move and rearrange things,’ she says, ‘which is the beauty of using so much white – you have that flexibility.’
It isn’t just the house that’s perfect. Having the family close by is an added bonus. ‘Sarah and I can see each other often now,’ she says, ‘and our parents live just five minutes away, so it’s ideal.’
lesson learnt‘ I’ ve steered away from being impulsive–now It end to wait a little, rather than buying the first thing I think I love’
KITCHEN A large island separates this area from the living zone and helps define the space. Kitchen design and cabinetry, price on request, Roomroom Interiors. Montague bar stools, £175 each, Neptune. Karlsson Mr White clock, £68, Naken, is similar. Elstead Provence rise-and-fall ceiling pendant, £180, Lyco, is a match
SITTING ROOM Softly draped linen draws the eye to the tall French doors. Curtains in Austen linen, £28m, Laura Ashley. Walls painted in Shirting Absolute Matt emulsion, £ 43.50 for 2.5L, Little Greene. Chichester dining table, from £845; the Long Island dining chair is similar, £260, both Neptune. Catalan Italia Kidal chandelier, from £1,311, Harrogate Interiors