It had no architectural features at all, and now look at it (Picture: Simon Bevan)
With a portfolio that includes a business creating beautiful hand-made tiles, a boutique hotel on a barge in Hackney, a renovated hotel near the pretty Moorish village of Vejer de la Frontera, and collaborations with design titans from Darkroom to The Conran Shop, Lee Thornley is struggling to remember any redeeming features about his new home when he first clapped eyes on it.
‘If I’m being honest it was the price that attracted us to it,’ he says of the humdrum 1950s property in Yorkshire that greeted him and his family when they returned from ten years living in the sun-drenched haze of Andalucia.
‘You are forced into what you can get, and the location is key. We couldn’t afford a beautiful period property and this is what we could afford: it’s pretty ugly and average and had no architectural features at all.’
Having switched from a profession as a barrister to setting up a business offering reclaimed Spanish tiles, evolving into Bert & May, interior design and architectural collaborations in the form of Bert’s Boxes, modular living spaces, Lee is a creative with a pragmatic heart.
His day job as creative director of Bert & May is in supplying artisan, encaustic tiles for the world’s most beautiful homes, so Lee knows a lot about taking simple ingredients – in the case of the tiles, marble dust and natural pigments – and turning it into something dazzlingly beautiful.
‘The house was the ugly duckling of the street but in some ways that meant it was a blank canvas and we could be more creative,’ he says of the home he shares with partner Phil and daughters Iris and Lyla. ‘It turned on its head. I thought at first, ‘what a disaster’, and in the end it allowed us to do something amazing.’
The open-plan kitchen is divine (Picture: Simon Bevan)
They’ve really made the most of the outdoor space (Picture: Simon Bevan)
In love with this (Picture: Simon Bevan)
This shower is so moody and stylish (Picture: Simon Bevan)
Not a bad place to work (Picture: Simon Bevan)
The three-bed has now been transformed into a haven of earthy, neutral colours that create a backdrop for pops of colour and texture. It would be tempting to call it Scandi style – with crisp lines, faded neutrals and organic tactile textures – but thanks to features such as the Stovax wood burner, 1950s-style cocktail chairs and bold wood panelling, there is a 1970s swagger that showcases Lee’s confidence in what he is doing.
The main living room is designed to be warm and inviting with Little Greene’s ‘Purple Brown’ on the walls and a richly coloured teal velvet sofa from made.com, with the deep shades working in harmony with a dark textured rug, thick velvet curtains and reclaimed wood flooring and timber cladding.
This certainly is a place to hide away from the stresses and strains of modern …read more
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