Me And My Home: Show and tell

Stephen Hodgkinson talks to Mary Wilson about his ever-changing rooms
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The Independent Online

Stephen Hodgkinson runs an interior design firm, The Treehouse General Trading Company, with his partner Philip Martinson from their house in Kirton Lindsey, Lincolnshire

We bought the house about two and a half years ago. It had been lived in by a family for at least 40 years and was charming but dated. Although we ripped almost everything out down to the bare bones, we were basically working with an elegant Grade II-listed Georgian house and luckily, many of the original features were left right down to the door hinges, panelling and escutcheons.

"It also had a very pretty staircase, which, unusually, was in its original position. Normally when Victorians added on an extension, they moved the staircase because it would have then been in the wrong place. We've put in a new kitchen, new bathrooms, had it re-wired and re-plumbed and put in a new telephone system, but the original fabric of the house is still very much in evidence.

"We have kept the colour scheme throughout the house very neutral, using about seven or eight different Farrow & Ball colours, so the whole house makes sense when you walk around. But in the dining room, we have painted one wall in dark indigo, just because we wanted to hang a pair of wedding paintings to their best effect. This room was the only one that was really featureless. We put in the fireplace, cornicing, wood floor and mixed old furniture with new.

"We like showing off our paintings and you need neutral colours for that. We have done very little to the drawing room, except to change the slate hearth, which was knackered. The previous owners had put in a Baxi fire, but had installed it wrongly, so it had scorched the back of the panelling. When the man came to look at it, he told us we were lucky the house hadn't burnt down. We put in an open fireplace instead.

"The flooring is original but is now stained down to a warm, dark mahogany, with a touch of red in it. We had someone come in to sand down the wood and re-stain it and wax it, but they did such a terrible job we had to do it again ourselves. It took ages, but it was worth it.

"For the panelling in the drawing room, we used matt-effect paint on the walls, then painted the recesses in acrylic eggshell to give it depth. The paintings on the walls of this room are architectural drawings which we found in antique shops. We also have a lot of stock in the rooms to show clients what we can do and quite often they buy things which are displayed in the house.

"This means that sometimes the paintings or antiques in the rooms have to be replaced and so the look of the rooms changes from time to time, which makes them more interesting. Interior design is our passion, so that is fine with us but some things we wouldn't sell, such as the bronze Siamese figure over the mantelpiece, which we fell in love with and certainly wouldn't let go.

"We painted the kitchen in a pale fennel with a black slate floor and black granite and maple work surfaces. We both like to cook and we entertain a lot. In one corner there is a door, behind which are stairs leading up to what was an old maid's room. In this we have made a spare shower room, which can be accessed from the first floor, too.

"The main bathroom has a pretty arts and crafts fireplace, which was covered up, as were all the fireplaces in the house. We have five in all. This bathroom was quite different when we bought the house. It had peacock and black walls and a pink bathroom suite. The bath was a nice cast iron one, but as it everything was in pink, we had to replace the lot.

"In one corner of the main bedroom there is a vaulted corner cupboard, which makes an excellent storage place. And there is a low window by the fireplace, which wakes you up rather nicely in the morning, and there are lovely views over the Trent valley.

"The size of the window seems rather peculiar to me, it's rather small, but it is the right shape and matches the ones in the front. I like putting mirrors over mantelpieces or bits of art to give the room some sort of interest.

"One unusual feature of the house is that at the back it has an internal stable. This has the original cobbled floor and drainage channel running through it. We've left the floor, painted the stone walls and made it into the boiler room. Outside, we have done quite a bit to the gardens, made them more formal. They were quite a mess when we bought the house. We have turned the front area into a pretty cottage garden and the back garden, which has a high stone wall around it, has a lawn with shrubs and borders.

"We have to move because our office is too small, and we'd like to be closer to Leeds. We work in the attic, and we need a new studio and much more space. We're not sure what we'll buy next, it just depends on what we find. We'd probably like to do it up, because that is what we love doing, but we haven't got the time now another major restoration job."

Wickentree, a Grade II-listed, six-bedroom house with cellar, cottage-style gardens, garage and additional parking is for sale through Humberts (01522 546444) at a guide price of £395,0000-£425,000

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