light re­lief

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

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