25 Beautiful Homes

25 Beautiful Homes
Printed: June 2014

Northern SOUL

Drawn back to her childhood roots, artist Laura Wallace turned a 1920s house into a wonderful family home filled with treasured heirlooms and beautiful oil paintings.
25 Beautiful Homes
25 Beautiful Homes
INSPIRATION 'I always have fresh flowers in my house - they bring life and colour to a room and inspire my paintings, too'

Having both had idyllic childhoods growing up in the Wharfe Valley and the Lake district, it's no surprise that when Laura Wallace and her husband Mark, decided to move out of London with their three children, Emily 12, William, 10, and Anna 7, they were drawn back to their northern roots. 'Everyone thought we were mad,' exclaims Laura. 'We had a gorgeous Georgian house, the kids were in good schools, and we had a great circle of friends. However, we both felt a strong pull home. we wanted to be closer to our families and for the kids to grow up surrounded by beautiful countryside.'

     The family's search for their new home homed in on West Yorkshire, and with luck clearly on their side, they found a property up for sale close to where Laura's parents lived. 'It took a year from the day we found the house to actually moving in,' recalls Laura. 'But it was well worth the wait!' The house, having been built on a slope, boasts wonderful views and the private drive and grounds give a sense of a country estate.'
     When the Wallaces first moved in, the kitchen and dining room were quite dark and didn't make the most of the impressive outlook. So Laura and Mark decided to knock through to make a spacious, open-plan kitchen-diner/family room. 'It's made such a massive difference to the house,' says Laura. 'It's a lovely space, ideal for gathering as a family to cook, chat, do homework, etc.'

     For Laura, one of the houses's biggest attractions was the gym in the garden - not because she had any intention of using it, but because she knew it would make a perfect art studio. 'The light in there is exquisite,' says Laura. An interior designer-cum-artist, she didn't discover her artistic talent until fairly recently. 'I began painting a lot more while we were in Scotland, were we have a second hoe,' she explains. 'i painted to pass the time while Mark was off fishing. Now I've made a career out of it. Laura works predominantly in oils, and enjoys painting still-lifes of vases of flowers and rugged seascapes of the wild Scottish coastline. 'A neighbour buying one of my artworks was a pivotal moment,' explains Laura. 'It prompted me to put on an exhibition of my work. Amazingly, it completely sold out and I've never looked back since.'

     Unsurprisingly, the Wallace household is artfully decorated, and each room is home to one or more of Laura's beautiful pictures. 'I've adapted some of my original pieces to suit the schemes in the house,' she explains. 'For instance, once I eventually tracked down the ideal wall colour for the drawing room, I painted some hellebores and narcissi from our garden to complement the look.

     Indeed, each room has harmonious feel, with Laura's impressionist-style paintings and the couple's mix of inherited antiques and luxurious fabrics, resulting in an elegant, homely style. As an artist who creates bold scenes inspired by nature, it comes as no surprise that Laura loves colour. 'I live and breath it,' she says. 'I've scattered bright cushions all over the house, as well as eye-catching braids and edgings to the curtains and blinds for a detailed finish. I like throwing in a touch of red here and there for an enlivening effect, too. 'I do the same when I paint - it adds a brilliant sense of drama.'

Mulling over why the move from London back up north turned out to be so successful, Laura reflects: 'This is where I belong. Plus, first and foremost, we really wanted to give the children roots and a strong affinity with one place. We all absolutely adore living in the country, especially the kids. It's in this area, and in this house, where we feel at out happiest. We've finally found our forever home and a wonderful sense of belonging.'

LESSON LEARNT 'It's worth investing in beautifully made curtains. they will last for years and keep a tremendous amount of heat in'
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