wheels of industry
Lauren Blow and Steve Crossley have enhanced the original features of a former factory building by adding reclaimed materials and industrial touches
Cool industrial styling complements a converted cotton mill in Manchester
When Lauren Blow and her partner Steve Crossley started looking for a home together in Manchester, an abundance of character and a city centre location was key. So when a rare three-bedroom corner apartment came up for sale in a converted Grade Ii*-listed cotton mill, they jumped at the chance to view it.
Steve, who runs a recruitment business, was already renting in the same building, and the pair loved the canal-side location on the edge of the city’s bohemian Northern Quarter. ‘It was converted in 2008 and had one previous owner,’ recalls Lauren, a lighting designer. ‘But they’d already moved out so there was no furniture and it looked very bare and plain.’
Although there were too many wardrobes built in around the beds, some of which obscured the original brickwork, the couple adored the building’s large windows and period character. They also loved the quirky former corner cloakroom, to which they have added reclaimed wood shelves for storing bottles of spirits and stylish wall-mounted wine racks.
During the four months it took for the sale to go through, Lauren was able to realise her ideas in 3D using modelling computer program Sketchup, gather samples and obtain quotes for creating a multifunctional kitchen island-cum-dining table with built-in bench seating and a breakfast bar. Her father made the structure from CLS studwork timber, which was cladded with old fruit crates. It supports the concrete worktops and end panels. To finish the piece, they commissioned bar and restaurant
fitter Rigg to make a cantilevered brass tabletop with hairpin legs.
As a lighting expert, Lauren was keen to come up with an innovative plan. ‘In the main living area, we invested in warm downlighters with dimmer switches,’ she says. Elsewhere, industrial-style floor lamps, a copper pendant over the island and bold statement lights in the bedrooms make the most of the high ceilings.
Fortunately, the couple liked the existing contemporary kitchen units, and saw no need to replace the three bathrooms. Instead, they focused their attention on the main living space and bedrooms, adding natural materials and industrial touches.
The wardrobes around the beds were removed and replaced with wood feature walls. Fence panels adorn the sitting room and guest bedroom, while the main bedroom is clad with reclaimed floor joists from a school. ‘I did consider using laminate on the walls but it would spoil the effect if people touched it, plus it wouldn’t have chimed with our natural material concept,’ says Lauren.
Another issue that needed to be addressed was the long entrance to the main bedroom, which was lined with a wardrobe and felt too corridor-like. To create interest, Lauren hung old metal door kick plates on the wall.
Being able to walk to work is a bonus for the couple and there are plenty of bars and restaurants on the doorstep. They also love entertaining friends at home. ‘Steve likes to play barman and we have a disco light to set the mood,’ says Lauren. ‘ We are really enjoying this space and have loved making our mark on it.’
SITTING AREA As it is located on the corner of the building, this open-plan room benefits from an abundance of natural light. Paris corner sofa, £1,499, Dwell. Carnwath coffee table with magazine rack by Home & Haus, £269.99, Wayfair, is a good alternative
KITCHEN The couple retained the existing developer’s kitchen, as it suited the space. For similar units, try the Milano Ultra Camel gloss, from £2,500 for eight, with Slab Austrian oak, from £1,500 for eight, Wren Kitchens
WINE STORE Located next to the kitchen, this former cloakroom has been transformed into a useful storage area for bottles of wine and spirits. Vurm four-bottle wine racks, £10 each, Ikea. Try the Tray 1-light industrial saucer shade adjustable arm floor lamp, £145.79, Homary
SITTING AREA A retro-style metal unit on castors suits this eclectic scheme, while a potted cactus and succulents add a bohemian touch. Wayne metal and fir TV storage unit, £115, Maisons du Monde. Concrete planter and cactus, £69, Ancoats General Store
MAIN BEDROOM Reclaimed brass door kick plates make a striking wall display. bannockbane Silver blanket, £35, the tartan blanket Co. PS 2014 ceiling pendant, £100, Ikea
BATHROOM Tones of grey create a sleek, modern look. try Dartrey grey wall tiles, £67.86sq m, topps tiles
GUEST BEDROOM ‘Using fence panels on the wall gave the rough feel I wanted,’ says Lauren. For a similar bedside table, try b-grade unfinished rustic wooden crate, £15.59, Display Stands