This six bedroom house in York belongs to the author, content creator and social media influencer Lisa Dawson who will be familiar to many of you from instagram. So this is part househunter and part house tour. And for that reason I’m using mostly her pictures rather than the estate agent’s but you can, of course, head over to Ashtons to see the floorplan and full set of images for this house which is at Gate Helmsley and is on for £1,300,000.
Lisa, who hails originally from Reading, fetched up in York through her husband’s work. The couple have three children, two of whom are students and the youngest is still at school so the plan is to downsize to central York until he finishes his Al levels and then see where the wind blows them.
If you are not familiar with Lisa through her instagram then do give her a follow as she shows details of her house all the time and possibly even rooms you’ve never seen before. It’s a fantastic Georgian house with six bedrooms (one of which is in a separate barn that is currently rented out via airbnb), five receptions, kitchen diner, office, utility room and gym. But the bit you might like is that the main bedroom has two dressing rooms. Imagine!
Now, as you can imagine Lisa has redecorated countless times since moving in and in addition to converting the barn to a self-contained one bedroom cottage she has also increased the living space by adding a glass roof to the courtyard.
You might think she wasn’t short of space but by doing that she has made the space more usable all year round rather than it just being an outdoor space for dry days. Because she already had one of those!
Now I’ll grant you it’s a niche issue but one of the main problems of large houses is finding a proper use for all the space. Now with three teenage children that’s less of an issue but if you have more than one sitting room, for example, it’s crucial to work out when you will be in each one and what it’s for.
We’re all familiar with the concept of wearing 20 per cent of your wardrobe 80 per cent of the time and so it can be with houses – of all sizes. I have always found the idea of the so-called spare bedroom a joke. Who has spare? It’s probably an office, a guest room, a space to dry laundry, a playroom, a gym or a tv room. And that is the key. Label your rooms. That way you will have a use for them.
And once you have found a use for it you will have a reason to go in and use it. So back to reception rooms. It’s likely that one will be naturally dark so that’s perfect for cosy winter evenings and television. And there’s a reason that large houses have morning rooms – find the one that has the natural light and where you might want to put your office. I can’t overemphasise what a bad idea it is to stick your office in the smallest, darkest room as you will never want to go to work. Use that space for storage and paperwork but you will find yourself carting your laptop to the kitchen table or the sunny spot so see if you can make a dedicated space there. (I’ve written a book about that very subject should anyone be interested!).
Dining rooms have fallen out of use but if you entertain often you might use one. Again – that can be a room that’s naturally dark. Pick a room with sunlight for the Victorian-sounding morning room or breakfast room. And, if you have a smaller, more average sized house the same still applies. Find a corner where the sun hits and stick a chair there for a morning cup of coffee.
We’ll finish this tour with Lisa’s kitchen – currently a pale yellow it has been lavender (she peaked too soon on that trend) black, and possibly green. The wooden doors are easy to repaint and Lisa has changed the look of her kitchen countless times in the years I have known her. It’s a real sign that if you are prepared to spend a couple of days with a paintbrush you can totally change the look of your kitchen without have to rip it all apart. The most recent addition was the vintage island that she picked up locally – I’m not sure if that’s included in the sale or not. But if you are planning on moving to York then not only can you live in this house but I’m sure she’ll throw in a copy of her book which is full of tips on making the most of your space in a resourceful way.