Norfolk by design

PUBLISHED: 05:18 30 March 2015

Work in progress

Work in progress


Uncovering the history of your property can give added depth to your design for its future, says Lanassir Lawes, our expert designer from Bressingham.

Contemporary chandelierContemporary chandelier

Living in Norfolk offers a variety of lifestyles. We can enjoy the vibrant city of Norwich, coastal towns and pretty rural villages, all within the one county. As an interior designer it also makes for an interesting place to work as many of the properties are unique. It is notable that many of the homes that I work on are converted from buildings that were former factories, offices, hospitals or buildings with agricultural heritage.

Having recently purchased a flat above a city centre restaurant at 15 St Benedict’s Street, I noted that a plaque on the wall states that it was built in 1889 and I was interested to find out more about the building’s previous use because it was obvious that my first floor flat was once non-residential and open plan due to the structure. I visited the Norfolk Records Office and the records show that in 1908 it was occupied by J Brett and Sons Limited, house furnishers. St Benedict’s Street was clearly at that time a thriving shopping location with butchers, boot-makers, picture-framers etc, and the plans also show trams running down the street. It was interesting to note that Cookes Pianos shop still exists today in the same

location two doors along at number 19.

Visiting the Norfolk Record Office is so interesting and enables you to trace the history of old buildings. This can help when looking at the possibilities for designing the interior, as I like to be sympathetic to its past use.

With my team of tradesmen, I have started to strip out the existing bathrooms, kitchen and fitted furniture that I inherited from the previous owner. We have already uncovered architectural features that were covered up when the current conversion was done in the 1980s, and these will be incorporated in my new design, so my flat will retain a link to its commercial Victorian heritage.

With ceilings over three metres high and large south-facing sash windows, this is going to be an exciting project to work on.

With a conversion, there is no domestic history for the property, therefore it is not about how our ancestors lived in the property but more about how we want to live in it with a “look” to suit our personal taste and lifestyle.

In our oak-framed barn at Bressingham that we have converted into our showrooms, we showcase the latest design ideas to inspire our clients. Contemporary furnishings against the timber structure can really work. Pictured is the staircase in a client’s barn that has been lit with a spectacular chandelier that our client spotted during a visit to our showroom to select her curtain fabrics.

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