AN EN­DEAV­OUR IN Stret­ton de­signer Jojo Bradley took some damp and dreary Ge­or­gian prom­ise and cre­ated a stun­ning fam­ily home Cheshire Life: June 2019 Cheshire Life: June 2019

Cheshire Life - - At Home - Kate Houghton John Cocks

Jojo Bradley stud­ied psy­chol­ogy at univer­sity, not ex­actly an ob­vi­ous first step to­wards an in­te­rior de­sign ca­reer, yet within a decade of grad­u­at­ing she is run­ning a busi­ness that em­ploys six peo­ple and cre­ates beau­ti­ful homes for clients across Cheshire and the North West.

We meet at Jojo’s stun­ning pe­riod home, in the tiny vil­lage of Stret­ton, near Ch­ester. If you want to get a han­dle on an in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor’s per­sonal style, and skill, this is usu­ally

the best place to start. In­deed, it was in the ren­o­va­tion and dé­cor of this house that Jojo re­ally ce­mented her skills, de­vel­oped a net­work of tried and trusted trades (and a short list of those she won’t work with again) and learned some key lessons for fu­ture projects.

Jojo hails from York­shire and met her hus­band, Mark, at univer­sity in New­cas­tle-up­onTyne eleven years ago. Eight years ago she joined him in Cheshire.

‘His whole fam­ily is here,’ she says. ‘And the fam­ily busi­ness. We mar­ried five years ago, a year af­ter find­ing this house. De­spite be­ing hor­ri­bly run down and in need of a lot of work, it ticked ev­ery box for us. I love pe­riod prop­er­ties and the Ge­or­gian style is my favourite; the sym­me­try and pro­por­tions.’

The house is a tra­di­tional dou­ble-fronted style, onto which a Vic­to­rian ex­ten­sion had been built and then a sec­ond ex­ten­sion later on, adding an­other wing to the rear.

‘It re­ally was in a very poor

state, even though it was ac­tu­ally still lived in (or at least a small por­tion of it was) when we bought it. There are two cel­lars and both were com­pletely flooded. It was a very com­plex job to have them both drained and tanked. The house was very damp – in the room that we have made into a play­room the car­pet lit­er­ally squelched as you walked across it, and there were mush­rooms grow­ing from the walls!’

Adding to the com­plex­ity was the fact that, at some point in its life, the prop­erty had been split into two homes - so Jojo had the tricky task of putting them back to­gether.

‘This was a house of its time so it con­sisted of lot of small rooms, up­stairs and down. I wanted to make it right for the mod­ern fam­ily life­style and opened up the down­stairs liv­ing ar­eas. The later ex­ten­sion was both com­pletely wrong and fall­ing down, so we took it down and built an or­angerie that con­nects to the kitchen area, which is built in the Vic­to­rian ex­ten­sion.

‘I was very keen to save, or re­place, all the orig­i­nal de­sign fea­tures where I could. I spent hours scouring recla­ma­tion yards

across Cheshire and York­shire. All the cor­nic­ing and ceil­ing roses needed re­plac­ing. We found the orig­i­nal bells that the fam­ily would have used to call their ser­vants and I put those up in the en­trance hall. Mark sug­gested that we have them all wired back for use, but I could see how that would work out, so de­clined!’

The door to the play­room, which you en­ter from the kitchen, was clearly orig­i­nally the rear en­trance to the home, and she has had this ren­o­vated to its orig­i­nal style, which looks fabulous. There was also an arched door­way into one of the for­mal rooms at the front of the house. It was too low for her very tall hus­band, so she re­moved the win­dow light, but left the arch. To unite the hall­way from en­trance to liv­ing area, she then had her builders recre­ate the ex­act same arch­way as you en­ter

“I spent hours scouring recla­ma­tion yards across Cheshire and York­shire.”

de­signs for clients, too.

‘I wanted to make each room unique,’ she says. ‘We love to travel and now, wher­ever we go, we seek out some unique art to bring home, which com­pletes the room and re­minds us of our trips. We went to Ja­pan, for ex­am­ple, where I found a gor­geous an­tique ki­mono, in beau­ti­ful colours. I have had sofa cush­ions made in match­ing shades and, when I even­tu­ally get it framed, it will hang in the draw­ing room. Orig­i­nal art is some­thing I en­cour­age my clients to invest in, too.

‘With each one, I set up a What­sapp group, so we can mes­sage each other with up­dates and ques­tions, but also so I can send them pic­tures of pieces or fab­rics I think they will love. They can re­spond there and then, so if I spot some­thing I love, they can make a de­ci­sion very quickly.’

Jojo’s in­te­rior de­sign busi­ness grew or­gan­i­cally, if very quickly, from small seeds.

‘When Mark and I moved into our first home, I did all the in­te­rior de­sign my­self. I had al­ways had an in­ter­est in the field, and sent my­self on cour­ses in de­sign and in up­hol­stery. I re-up­hol­stered pieces of fur­ni­ture and made cur­tains. Friends and fam­ily started ask­ing me to do pieces for them too.

‘Six years ago I bor­rowed £1500 from Mark, bought my­self a sewing ma­chine, a work­table and a small amount of stock. I started by mak­ing cur­tains, pin­boards and such and it grew from there, but very soon it was a full time job.

‘At first it was just soft fur­nish­ings, but then peo­ple started to ask me to source fur­ni­ture, then de­sign a whole scheme and now we of­fer a full in­te­rior de­sign ser­vice, right from a sin­gle room to a full home, from first fix out, in­clud­ing a full turnkey ser­vice.’

If she can take a semi-derelict house and cre­ate this beau­ti­ful home, dur­ing 36 months of wedding plan­ning, preg­nancy and build­ing a busi­ness, there’s not a lot Jojo can’t ac­com­plish, I would say. jo­jo­bradley­in­te­ri­ors.co.uk

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