Instead of fussing about the little things, the owner of this converted barn has used statement lighting, bold artwork and strong colour to create an impressive family home with an inviting feel
Statement lighting, bold artwork and strong colours combine to make a big impression in this inviting Yorkshire home.
For some, decorating their entire home is a daunting, albeit exciting, challenge. For others, like interior designer Tor Vivian, it is their job. Having moved house eight times in the past 12 years, Tor, her husband, Tom, and their children, Daisy and George, have finally settled in a 19th-century converted barn near Ripon, Yorkshire. We talk to Tor about this very personal design project.
How much work did you do on the house? When we moved in, we had a bit of an issue with the layout. There was always going to be one room that people would need to walk through so I decided to make this an open-plan kitchen, dining and sitting room. Structurally, we did not knock down many walls but we did convert the garage into a suite of guest rooms, complete with its own boiler, so that we can shut that wing off when no one is staying.
Was designing your own home di∞cult? It was actually really easy. I already had a lot of art and furniture so I was designing around that. While I did have budget constraints, I worked in the same way I would with a client. I created moodboards and drew up room plans but, as I did not want things to be perfect, I was easier to please than most of my clients. Worrying about little things makes me unhappy so by not fussing, it was a relaxing experience.
Have you used any ideas from your client projects? Yes, I have reworked some of my favourites for my own home. The mirrored tiles in the bathroom around the bath, for example, are similar to those in a scheme I did ten years
ago. I had always thought it was really e≠ective so when I decided to do the same in my own bathroom, I drove to London, got the mirrored panels cut and brought them back straight away. I wanted it done really quickly; I am like my clients in that respect.
What directed or inspired the decoration? Ideas steal up on me from so many places: shops, magazines, galleries, markets, holidays abroad. It could be anything and anywhere. I use my mobile phone all the time to take snapshots of anything that I like the look of.
How did you involve your family in the work? I took control but my children played a big part in the design of their bedrooms. My daughter Daisy came to the o∞ce and worked on hers as a designer; what she did is not what I would have done but I am not going to press my ideas on her just because of my profession. In Tom’s case, he needed a bit of convincing about some of my bolder ideas. Before we decorated the entrance hall, for example, I had to paint huge swatches of the blue I wanted to use onto lining paper to prove that it was the way to go. Really, I was going to do it anyway, but he agreed after seeing the samples.
Where did you source the artwork? I was quite lucky – my father was very into art so I have a few hand-me-downs, which got me started. I always go to exhibitions in Yorkshire and I never leave without buying something. I love finding something, nicely priced, that both my husband and I like. It is rare to have a connection with an artwork, so whenever I do find something, I have to get it.
A mix of cushions in a variety of fabrics and textures, including ikats from Uzbekistan and plain velvets from Oka, creates an air of comfort.
Jasper pouffe, £149, Swoon Editions, swooneditions.com.
Beni Ourain Berber rug, My Moroccan Store, etsy.com.