Finders… Keepers! Savvy stylist Hannah Ellis transformed her 17th-century manor house into a welcoming family home using second-hand buys and repurposed finds
- This is how Hannah Ellis transformed her stunning property in North Wales
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When interiors stylist Hannah Ellis moved into her new home – a huge 5,500 square foot section of a 17th-century hall in North Wales – she knew she had a big job on her hands.
‘The previous owners had been here a long time. They loved the property, but it was tired and needed a lot of work, plus fresh eyes to take it to the next level.’
Her part of the hall includes both the gentry’s rooms and servants’ quarters. Despite having to renovate it during lockdown, while pregnant and with a toddler to look after, she was determined to bring it back to life.
Her vision started with rejigging the downstairs layout – moving the kitchen back to where she thinks it originally was, and removing walls to create a free-flowing space.
Paint has gone a long way to making the house look luxe without too much outlay. The living room, for example, has been ‘colour drenched’ (the walls, skirting, architraves and ceiling are all one colour) in Bone by farrow-ball.com.
The hallway’s mandarinstone.com floor tiles complement the dark two-tone walls. ‘They were originally painted in two textures, and I wanted the same vibe.’ The prints are taken from a book she loves by the artist Harland Miller
Other tricks include painting stripes between the rooms for a playful touch; turning an arch in the hallway gold for a glamorous glow and – just before she gave birth – adding a gold scalloped border in her daughter’s room (‘I was hanging off a ladder while massively pregnant,’ she says, laughing).
But perhaps her greatest achievement is her use, almost entirely – about 70 per cent – of reclaimed treasures. ‘I love finding old pieces and creating a new home for them,’ she says.
Her hunt for such items has led to many adventures – she had to drive to a service station in the mountains of North Wales to collect an antique metal mirror she’d found online for £30 (‘I’ve seen them go for £1,000’).
The vintage barrister bookcase in her son’s bedroom was found while trawling the rambling home of a Facebook Marketplace seller.
No scrap of serviceable material has gone to waste, either. An offcut from the kitchen’s marble worktop has been smartly inset in the room’s reclaimed shop-counter island to create a giant chopping board.
The stately living room was once the hall’s dining room. The parquet floor, plaster coving and lights – which have been given new pooky.com shades – are original features. The sofa is by love-your-home.co.uk and the rug is from sohohome.com
Hannah splashed out on devolkitchens.co.uk cabinets and marble worktops, but saved money with a reclaimed wooden shelf that she has accessorised with vintage pots and jars from charity shops, auctions and Instagram sellers
In the dining room the walls are painted Pickled Okra by johnstonespaint.com. The table and chairs are from Instagram seller @vintagefrenchfr. The rug is from Ebay
One of the few new purchases in the house is Hannah’s bed and mattress, both by loaf.com. ‘You need a comfortable bed, that’s a must,’ she says. The painting is her work, but she loves to mix up art finds from local galleries, auction houses and art colleges. The bedside table is an Instagram buy
Using a picture frame to get even squares, Hannah painted the bathroom floor in Oxford Stone and Dimity by farrow-ball.com. The walls are in Leather III by paintandpaperlibrary.com. The parasol lamp and screen are vintage. The shower wall tiles are mandarinstone.com
‘I turned our den into a bit of a gentlemen’s club – where, of course, women are allowed,’ Hannah says. The space feels casual, with an old butcher’s trolley used for drinks and a lamp from Facebook Marketplace
Spare planks of teak have been polished and used as bathroom shelves and a defunct radiator has been turned into a towel rail.
‘If there’s anything I can salvage and reuse, I will,’ Ellis says.
Of course, there are some new items in the house, including a bed and sofa. ‘Old treasures save money and add character, but there are some things you need to spend on,’ says Ellis.
Four years in, the house is both grand and cosy. ‘Were we crazy?’ she wonders.
‘Yes, in many ways, but also, we feel lucky to be the custodians of this piece of history. I really feel we’ve brought it back to life.’
Follow Hannah’s renovation at @half_a_hall
HANNAH’S HIT LIST OF RECLAIMED HEROES
I’ve found so many amazing things, like the vintage chests throughout my home and lots of rugs.
ANTIQUES AND ART
Try Arthur Swallow antiques fairs (asfairs. com), timelessfurniture uk.com and auction houses. For art I go to The Cheshire Print Fair (cheshireprintfair.com).
My favourites include @theoldpotatostore, which is run by a lovely lady called Karen in Manchester, and @vintagefrenchfr
Buying a big piece from a seller? Ask for any offcuts – I bought a shop counter for the kitchen, and the guy threw in an old school lab worktop too.
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