A Victorian property with vibrant, vintage decor
Mairead Turner’s trademark mix of pattern and paint provides a vivid backdrop for her constantly evolving collection of retro furniture and accessories in her Victorian home on the Isle of Anglesey. Feature Anna Tobin. Photographs Rachael Smith.
The living room
A jungle of colours, texture and pattern bring new life to the vintage furniture in the living room. Mairead bought the German cocktail chairs from an importer on eBay, and had them re-covered. The Habitat Hendricks sofa was another eBay find and the coffee table came from a charity shop in Menai Bridge.
Mairead bought the 1950s table from Vintage Boutique in Leeds, while the French school chairs come from Retro Boutique in the same city. Robin found the vintage metal pendant lights from an old rag mill in Batley.
Mairead chanced upon the solid oak Habitat kitchen on eBay and her builder adapted it for the space. The ladder, which is used as a pot rack, came from Hawthorn Yard Antiques in Menai Bridge. The original Kaiser Idell scissor wall light came from a fair.
The Arkana Tulip chairs and vintage ship bulkhead wall lights were bought from a fair in Ardingly. The wall behind is painted in Canton by Little Greene. The original lithograph is by Irma Henson.
The hallway & landing
Mairead pays as much attention to ceilings as she does to walls and floors and in the hall the ceiling is painted Hellebore by Little Greene, which chimes with the other colours.
The entrance hallway was a lockdown project. Mairead wanted to emphasise the Victorian features and used Hencroft Azure wallpaper above the dado rail teamed with Yellow-Pink paint below and woodwork in Pleat, all by Little Greene. The unsigned painting came from Annie’s Orphans charity shop in Beaumaris.
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The print on the stairs is by Rachel Khan.
The Peacock chair on the upstairs landing came from Chris Holmes Antiques, and Mairead has used this to create an informal extra workspace. The bench is from an Arthur Swallow Fair, and the stag’s head came from Vintage Boutique in Leeds. The tapestry is from a fireguard that Mairead found in a charity shop.
Mairead uses her office as an ongoing experiment with pattern and paint. The wallpaper is Vine by Little Greene. The chest of drawers is from Ikea and Mairead painted it in Adventurer by Little Greene, the armchair is upholstered in Harlequin’s Florica.
The tapestry was made by Ann Davis in 1890. The vases and candlesticks are all vintage finds.
A pair of mid-century cabinets sit either side of the bed – Mairead found them in a local charity shop. The vintage Jieldé wall lights were an eBay discovery. The framed tapestry fragment came from Vintage Boutique in Leeds.
The colourful Hollyhocks fabric by Sanderson used on the window dressings inspired the happy 1950s feel Mairead wanted to create in the master bedroom. The walls are painted in Rhubarb by Paint & Paper Library and Turquoise Blue by Little Greene. The chair is from Swiss Cottage Antiques in Leeds.
The dress maker’s dummy came from an Arthur Swallow Fair and the shelving came from Swiss Cottage Antiques in Leeds. The artworks on the wall are from a job lot of illustrations Mairead bought at a Brighton car boot sale.
The wallpaper in Orla’s bedroom is Florica by Harlequin and the wardrobe is from eBay.
Mairead made the headboard for Orla’s bed using Nelson fabric by Sanderson.
The artwork on the blue wall is part of a job lot of illustrations Mairead bought at a Brighton car boot.
The vintage scales and candle-sconce wall mirror in the bathroom came from Hawthorn Yard Antiques
The delicate Golden Lily William Morris wallpaper gives a restful feel to the en suite bathroom of the master bedroom. The armchair is from Hawthorn Yard Antiques.
Mairead Turner and her husband Robin Hodgson are drawn like magpies to beautiful objects of design, particularly pieces that have already been well-loved. While most people buy to fulfil a need in their home, Mairead and Robin buy what they love, and then find a use for it later.
And so, seven years ago, when they got the keys to their Victorian cottage on the Isle of Anglesey, they arrived with lorry loads of furniture and accessories they had accumulated but never used.
All they were missing was the kitchen sink, because they did, in fact, bring the kitchen. ‘I came across the units years ago on eBay,’ laughs Mairead. ‘It was boxes of pieces from a massive freestanding solid oak Habitat kitchen. I saw it and fell in love with it and I bought it. It’s been dragged around with us from truck to truck ever since, until we finally found a home for it here.’
Mairead found the house in much the same way as she discovers all of her favourite things. ‘We moved to Anglesey from Leeds, when our eldest daughter Marnie, now eight, was a baby. Robin is in the restaurantbusiness and he was in the process of setting up a chain of restaurants in north Wales. ‘Initially, we rented while we decided whether we were going to settle here.’
On maternity leave at the time, Mairead would take long walks along the coast with Marnie and, while out one morning, she spotted their future home. ‘It’s not the prettiest building, but it has the most incredible views. I thought, I have to live here, just to be able to look out over the deer park and the sea beyond every day.’
As soon as they moved in, Mairead and Robin began working on making the inside of the cottage as beautiful as the scenery that surrounded it. ‘It was very old-fashioned,’ explains Mairead. ‘It hadn’t been touched since the 1970s, which was when it was extended. We first set about knocking down walls in the extension to create one big living space and a final resting place for our eBay kitchen!’
Some of the kitchen units were left freestanding and some were adapted by a local builder to create a more fitted look with a breakfast bar. ‘We’re a very sociable family, and because Robin runs restaurants, we also recognise how nice it is to have lots of places to sit, eat and hangout,’ says Mairead.
‘We have a kooky, practical 1950s Formica table on one side of the kitchen for painting and messy play and then a more formal dining table on the other side.’ Seating that Mairead and Robin have picked up on their travels is dotted all over the house. ‘Most of our furniture and accessories and even the lighting is picked up from antiques markets, eBay, junk shops and charity shops,’ says Mairead.
‘Robin is a regular at the Arthur Swallow Fairs and we find quite a bit at car boot sales too.’ Fortunately, the couple are dab hands at restoring and painting furniture. Followers of Mairead’s Instagram account (@maireadturner) will see that she regularly rearranges her finds, reupholsters furniture and redecorates everything from walls to window frames in colourful new patterns and shades.
It’s obvious to anyone who visits the house that Mairead loves bold pattern, texture and colour. ‘I spend a lot of time working out how to balance the different colours and patterns, so that every space is joyous, but also restful. I tend to start with an amazing patterned wallpaper that works well with the proportions of a room and work everything else around that.’
Mairead’s striking designs quickly won praise from visitors and soon people were asking for help with their own schemes. ‘I’ve never had any formal design training,’ she says. ‘I used to work for the Arts Council and before that as a producer of contemporary dance, but I couldn’t continue with that while living out here and being a mum. I’ve always loved renovating houses and when friends started asking me to help with their projects I jumped at it.’
Mairead & Co Interiors now has about 10 clients on the go at any one time, and Mairead’s unique mix of pattern and colour can be seen in hotels, holiday cottages and homes across Wales and beyond. But none are quite as daring as her own home.
‘My home is like a playground for me,’ she explains. ‘It’s where I take risks and experiment with colour and pattern in ways that I wouldn’t with clients’ properties. For example, I’ve tried out colour-blocking with the deep plum wall and cabinet in my office, and I’ve based a scheme around the curtain fabric in our bedroom. ‘Lockdown gave me time to rethink things, which was when I redid the entrance hall. It’s a place we pass through, rather than relax and spend time in, so I made it really fun with a bold wallpaper and blocks of contrasting colours.’
Mairead, Robin, Marnie and Orla love their home now but, with so many new ideas to try out, wallpapers, fabrics and paints still to be discovered, there will always be something different for visitors to spot and wonder at.
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