Designer Susi Bellamy has decorated her Edwardian manor house with a modern mix of hello-there hues and vibrant art
The main wing of a 20th-century manor house in the Northumberland countryside, near Hadrian’s Wall. On the ground floor is a grand entrance hall, which leads to the kitchen and living room, and a cloakroom. The first-floor comprises Susi’s office, the master suite and a guest suite. On the second floor are two more bedrooms and a bathroom.
Given the grand entrance of this Edwardian manor house, two things are immediately surprising. One, despite its noble proportions and classic British architectural features, first impressions are modern and light. And two, for the property’s owner, designer Susi Bellamy, colour and pattern know no bounds.
Eye-catching pieces, such as a lime-green velvet sofa, a dark-oak antique chest and a gesso cast bust of Michelangelo’s David, are set off by the bold colours and patterns of Susi’s stacks of cushions.
The house, which was built in 1900, is structurally magnificent, but after returning to it from the heat of Florence – where Susi and her family lived for six years – its dark-oak panelling felt cold and the layout needed a rethink.
Susi painted its original beautiful Wedgwood-style mouldings to appear in relief, and all its dark wood an off-white.
Enlisting the help of her friend Ike Isenhour, an architect and fellow colour appreciator, Susi devised a pathway between the kitchen and living room to create a circular flow. The corridor bisects the utility room to give direct access from the kitchen to the living room. Before this, the two rooms weren’t connected.
Susi painted this space in a fiery orange shade as she wanted a jewel-like colour to emanate from the neutral passageway.
A magazine stylist-turned-artist-and-designer, Susi has made a career out of her pattern-tastic style, and a colourful, intuitive aesthetic runs throughout her work. She applies the same principles and design ideas to whatever she is doing, whether it’s creating a collection or renovating the family home. She explains that reworking the house felt like an extension of her day job.
Her favourite shop is RE in Corbridge – a treasure trove of both decorative and utilitarian products that she uses throughout her home.
With its white-painted woodwork and plain walls, Susi kept the ground level to a neutral palette.
The floors above are a different story and where colour and pattern run riot.
The fuchsia artwork gives impact to this area of the landing, which Susi uses as her office. The modernity of various artwork contrasts with the Corinthian column tops.
The bold palette and gallery of framed artwork dominate this space.
In the attic bedrooms, Susi’s own wallpapers envelop the walls and ceilings.
When the decorator asked Susi where she wanted to stop the wallpaper and paint the ceiling white, she asked them why she’d want to do that. Instead, the wallpaper continues onto the ceiling in this attic bedroom.
The older daughter’s room is a heady mix of matchy-matchy patterns.
In the top-floor corridor, a folksy gold stencil lifts the space with a display of climbing florals. The stencil patterns are based on one of Jeanne Lanvin’s designs for her daughter Marguerite.
Susi says that people have an idea of stencilling as a sheaf of corn above a window in a cottage, but she considers it a craft. She advises that it’s all about the scale rather than being twiddly little stencils.
See Susi’s work and collections at susi-bellamy.com
Photography / Paul Raeside