Cumbrian B&B a rainbow of colour
Katie Mawson's quirky accessories have an international following; her hats and scarves sell in avant garde museum shops in New York as well as in Japan, China and a number of European outlets.
Now the Penrith-based designer has turned her keen eye to creating an off-beat holiday home at Lanercost, near Brampton. Katie's big speciality is her use of knitted fabric which ties her prevailing passion for accessories into a very individual way of creating an interesting interior. For instance, she has knitted nine pairs of curtains, turning window dressing into a whole new art form.
"I posted some pictures of the curtains on my Instagram page and was inundated with inquires but I don't think I will make them commercially. Each pair took three days to make which would make them very expensive," she says.
Which is a great shame as Katie's knitted curtains are stunning as well as being a warm and cosy addition to a country house. Katie inherited The Plough, which sits on Banks at Lanercost, after the death of her parents, who had bought the house from the local postmistress when they downsized from a large house nearby in 2001. The Mawsons renovated and extended the former pub, creating a conservatory as well as a downstairs bedroom and bathroom.
The Plough has just become available through Airbnb. "We wanted to create somewhere that we would love to stay ourselves and we aimed to appeal to arty people who prefer less conventional interiors," Katie says.
The house is filled with an eclectic mix of new and retro furnishings. Katie scoured sale rooms and charity and antique shops in her quest for funky and eccentric decor. Colour is also hugely important to her. For instance, she loves to put pink with orange.
Her knitted throws, bedspreads and cushions - all of which she sells through her website www.katiemawson.com - are mostly clashing and always cheering. Her artwork is equally individualistic. Prints are a no-no; Katie's walls are filled with fabric collages and paintings by her late grandmother Molly Mawson who used to hold an annual exhibition of her works at The Fratry at Carlisle Cathedral.
The kitchen is practical rather than artistic in the manner of the rest of the house. However, it adjoins a lovely conservatory with windows on all sides which look out on to a beautiful flower garden. The hallway is furnished with a rustic corner cupboard found at Hilary's Antiques in Brampton and a chest of drawers sourced at Penrith's Brunswick Yard, while two chairs from Ikea are new but look very 1960s.
The snug was created by taking some space from the long sitting room and erecting a partition wall. It houses the piece de resistance in The Plough - the cast-iron range which was built for the house when it was a pub.
One of the bathrooms is adorned with nine hand mirrors, mainly from the 1920s. "I have collected mirrors for years, finding them everywhere from charity shops to eBay," says Katie. The master bedroom features a wonderful bedspread knitted in a kaleidoscope of colours, representing another three days of work by Katie.
The Plough is a prime example of the supremacy of style over cost. Katie has used her innate sense of design and demonstrated the possibility of creating a vibrant, quirky and colourful home on a shoestring budget.
* This article first appeared in Cumbria Life. The Plough, Banks, Brampton, www.airbnb.co.uk.