Ideal Victorian five-bedroom home took over two years to transform

Kate bought her detached Victorian five-bedroom home, in a conservation area in Hereford, in 2017 (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

Nomadic interior designer Kate Hollingsworth finally feels settled after creating her ideal home – after two years of hard graft.

For Kate, there is no greater thrill than finding a beautiful but unloved home, restoring it back to its former glory – and then immediately getting started on another project.

‘I’ve renovated at least eight houses, and then have always sold up and moved on, as I get bored,’ says Kate. ‘This time, though, I’m just not feeling the itch again. There is so much scope at my present home, it is like a great big gorgeous doll’s house.

‘And I haven’t even got cracking on the garden yet.’

Kate, 43, bought her detached Victorian five-bedroom home – which she shares with her two teenage sons and two cats – in a conservation area of the ancient cathedral city of Hereford in the winter of 2017.

‘I had my eye on the house for quite a while, but its last owners just hadn’t been ready to sell it,’ says Kate. ‘It had been reconfigured into seven separate bedsits, so they did a great job converting it back into one large family home.

The detached Victorian five-bedroom home in a conservation area of the ancient cathedral city of Hereford (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

‘It was pretty old-fashioned, though, stuffed full of furniture, and the whole house smelt of dogs. But the large-scale rooms were so impressive and they’ve been perfect as not just a space for me and the boys, but for shoots and product launches.’

If you suspect Kate’s home looks like a campaign for a luxurious homewares store, well, that’s because it partly is.

Sleek and chic: chalky painted floorboards, sparkling chandeliers, pink velvet-upholstered chairs, indulgent sheepskins, cushions and delicate vintage-style glass vases (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

In 2016, with her two sisters, Michelle and Sarah, Kate founded central Hereford homewares boutique and online store Camperdown Lane, showcasing products from both small independent designers and big manufacturers.

Named after the location of their favourite childhood home, also in Hereford – where their interiors-mad mum let them design their own bedrooms – the shop has become a local byword for comfort and luxury.

The store sells everything from plush, hand-made British furniture, carved Indian cabinetry, soft wool throws and candles to lamps, baskets and tablecloths.

An eclectic spot: bright and colourful with a trace of vintage (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

Against a backdrop of pale grey and hot pink Farrow & Ball wall shades, chalky painted floorboards and sparkling chandeliers, some of Kate’s carefully curated pieces – pink velvet-upholstered chairs, indulgent sheepskins, cushions and delicate vintage-style glass vases – are on display. So far, so unashamedly feminine.

But eclectic items such as wooden carts and artfully rusted benches, along with upcycled mahogany furniture, wait in the wings to find their perfect spots in the house and grounds.

‘Both my sisters and I all adore moving furniture around in our homes, playing with colour schemes and seeking out new pieces’ (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

‘Both my sisters and I all adore moving furniture around in our homes, playing with colour schemes and seeking out new pieces to add to the look and spirit of our spaces,’ Kate says. ‘But I am pretty happy with the house how it is right now.’

Kate overspent on her initial £50,000 budget to get her dream home (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

Transforming the house into a dream family home and shoot-worthy location has taken her two years – and a considerable overspend on her initial £50,000 budget. Pretty much as soon as she picked up the keys and stepped through the pillared entrance portico (the grand front door is now painted in Farrow & Ball’s stately Hague Blue), Kate uncovered what she refers to as ‘nasties’.

Plumbing problems, damp and a roof leaking in three places: ‘During the Beast From The East in 2018, snow came in, melted and left brown stains all over my bedroom ceiling,’ she recalls – all needed urgent attention.

The badly designed, creamy-yellow kitchen she initially thought she could live with also had to go, to be replaced by fresh, dark blue cabinetry and moulded white work surfaces.

Kate transformed the kitchen from a badly designed, creamy-yellow into a fresh, dark blue and white space (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

‘I moved a doorway to bring the kitchen into line with the rest of the house, sold the old cupboards on eBay and asked a furniture maker I know well if he would build me a kitchen – which he did for a cracking price,’ she says. ‘I did keep the Aga, though.’

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Punch-packing colour has a big role to play in the house and Kate admits she never strays far from pinks. Although she loves a pale and dusky shade, her latest passion is for a hotter hue: Farrow & Ball’s sumptuous, exotic Rangwali, on the walls of her elegant dining room, which gives the space a rosy glow.

A dining room with a rosy glow (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

Her favourite room, however, is the downstairs loo, with its uplifting Barneby Gates red and pink pineapple wallpaper.

Kate’s favourite room: the downstairs loo (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

Despite her incredible attention to detail, Kate insists her home is not always ready for a close up.

‘At first sight it might look immaculate, but it really isn’t,’ she continues. ‘My Mum has a brilliant saying, “Have nice things and live,” meaning don’t be too precious about your house.’

Impressively, there is no ‘shoes off’ rule: ‘That’s why I kept the original, chipped floorboards,’ she says – and Kate promises she never slides a coaster under her guests’ cuppas.

Next up: Kate’s garden is a work in progress (Picture: Richard Weaver Photography)

For now, there’s still plenty to keep her busy at the house. She has been converting one of the garage spaces into a retreat for her sons, and can’t wait to get planting in the garden – romantic pink roses, hydrangeas, foxgloves and hollyhocks will run riot. She also envisions an oak-framed pergola with a woodburner, big corner sofa and lots of twinkly fairy lights.

‘The more I do here,’ she muses, ‘the more I think I really must stay.’

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