Interiors - an inspirational home at Cartmel Fell
PUBLISHED: 12:47 03 July 2013
Andrew Ward knew exactly what he wanted to do with a neglected 17th Century farmhouse on Cartmel Fell, where the Palatine of Lancashire meets Westmorland. For wife Jackie, who had given birth to the couple’s second child just eight weeks before they bought the property, the vision wasn’t so clear – until she bought a jug.
‘The family we bought the house from had been in it for 47 years and so we had quite a task on our hands to get it to where we wanted. There were times when we were trying to sort out damp problems, and when we were re-plumbing and re-wiring, when all the floorboards were up and we were stripping generations of paint from the woodwork, that I just couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,’ says Jackie, as she sits on plump John Sankey velvet sofa in the ‘G&T’ sitting room at Great Hartbarrow Farmhouse. ‘Andrew kept painting a picture of how the place would look and urged me to use my imagination. I decided to buy myself a beautiful jug and I would imagine it, sitting in a lovely kitchen full of fresh flowers. It sounds silly but it was that jug that kept me going.’
Five years on, they couldn’t be more settled in their four-bedroom home, which has 1.5 acres and gazes over the Whitbarrow nature reserve.
In perfect staggering distance from the famous Masons Arms at Strawberry Bank, this house couldn’t really be anything but beautiful inside - not when you factor in that Andrew and Jackie are the duo behind ‘lifestyle’ store Armstrong Ward in Kendal’s Wainwright’s Yard.
Selling everything from sumptuous Wesley Barrell sofas and elegant chairs, to fabric, wallpaper, Emma Bridgewater kitchenware, cushions and candles, it immediately added glamour to the auld grey town when it opened in 2004.
Nine miles away, on Cartmel Fell, the couple have mastered a more relaxed, lived-in sort of glamour.
‘We refurbished the whole house, from top to bottom, but we knew from the start that we had to retain some of the more rustic elements or it just wouldn’t work,’ explains Andrew, who roped in friends and family to keep the use of contractors to a minimum. He even learned how to restring the sash windows.
‘The door surrounds and wooden floors are far from perfect, despite the fact we nearly broke our backs Briwax-ing for hours. I used to joke that we could lose one of the children down some of the gaps in the floorboards but all these things give the place character,’ adds Jackie.
The first thing that hits you when you enter isn’t the uneven flooring, but the delicate smell of ginger thanks to scented candles from the shop. ‘There are definite advantages to running the business,’ says Jackie who, with Andrew’s encouragement, has filled the rooms almost exclusively with items from Armstrong Ward, plus the odd painting by local artists.
The couple have two reception rooms – the children’s play room and the G&T sitting room, which Harry, 9, and Tilly, 5, have dubbed ‘the posh one’ and are encouraged to avoid. The showroom of the house, it is dominated by a wood burner and a pair of matching sofas which had to be brought in through the windows.
Through a narrow, slate-floored corridor and low doorway, the kitchen is one of those proper ‘heart of the home’ rooms. When they moved in, an industrial-looking boiler was taken out, a fitted Neptune kitchen put in and ‘leathered’ slate flooring from World of Stone at Staveley was laid.
Now the family eat their breakfast underneath a huge pastel of a nearby bluebell wood by Grange artist Judy Evans, and looking out at a view of Whitbarrow Fell that changes as much through the day as it does through the seasons. The rear of the kitchen looks out into the garden, part of which had to be fenced off after the repeated invasion of red deer.
The original bathroom is now an en-suite to the master bedroom and a fifth bedroom has been turned into a large house bathroom with a free standing bath from Fired Earth which they bought shortly after exchanging on the house. ‘Before we spent our money on the boring things,’ says Jackie.
The children’s rooms wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of an Enid Blyton novel, with Tilly’s decorated with wall stickers from Belle & Boo and curtains by Kate Forman, run up by one of the ladies who makes curtains for the shop.
In the main bedroom, Farrow & Ball wallpaper makes for a feature wall. A huge bed and matching ottoman are sale bargains from The White Company and an old wardrobe and bedside tables have been given a new lease of life with a coat of paint.
The bedroom was the last room the couple completed and after four months of hard graft, they finally relented and called in professional decorators.
‘If there’s one thing I learned from this whole project,’ says Jackie, ‘it’s that you shouldn’t try to make a vat of jam while helping your husband wallpaper a ceiling. Not unless you want a divorce.’