Visitors to Laura Wallace’s home often leave with a picture tucked under their arm. Her work is artfully displayed in every room and it is hard to resist.
I should know. I left with a “Little Laura”, one of her framed prints, that now hangs in my house. It regularly whisks me away to the wild Scottish island it depicts and it makes me smile. While I’m no Brian Sewell, I reckon that’s the sign of a good painting.
Laura specialises in land and seascapes and in intimate studies of flowers, and she works predominantly in oil.
“I love fresh flowers and I’m the sort of person who always has to have them in the house. When I get back from a holiday the first thing I do is go out and buy some,” she says. “When I decide to paint them, I can spend hours just looking at the tone, the colours and the light before I even start to put anything on the canvas. I study the Scottish colourists who make colours pop out.”
The fresh flowers and the stunning pictures give life and soul to the rooms of her house, which acts as an informal gallery for family and friends, though she regularly exhibits her work elsewhere and sells it through her website www.laurawallace.co.uk
She bought the property for its rural location, near Ilkley, and for its separate single storey building tucked away in woodland. The annexe is now her studio, full of easels and paints.
“It’s wonderful and I am very lucky. It’s important to have a separate space to paint in because it’s so easy to get distracted in the house,” says Laura, whose previous career was in interiors design, working on projects for Harrods, the Crown Prince of Thailand and various sheikhs and bankers.
“The bit I most enjoyed was doing sketches and rendered perspective drawings of interiors for clients. I later studied at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art before becoming a full-time artist.”
One of the first jobs on her home was to knock down the dividing wall between the kitchen and family room to create a big living kitchen. The green and cream units were re-painted in Farrow and Ball’s lamp room gray and elephant’s breath. What was a sun room is now a family room. Laura also created a sensational bedroom suite with its own wood burning stove. Although she invested in some new soft furnishings, she managed to recycle curtains from her London house by having them re-made to fit.
Furniture is an eclectic mix of inherited pieces, oriental cabinets from Bradford-based Shimu, new buys and some bargain pieces from antique shops and the Newark antique fairs.
“I like a bargain. The best buy was a side table for £10 from Newark,” says Laura, who has revamped cupboards and tables with a lick of paint and given new life to old chairs by having them re-upholstered.
Decoration comes from collections of vintage glassware and pottery and items from her favourite shops, which include Maison and Leaves and Linen in Ilkley and The Home store at Salts Mill, Saltaire. Walls are painted in Farrow and Ball’s soft neutrals like mizzle, skimming stone and archive plus touch of the purple-toned brassica. We think it all looks picture perfect.
*Laura’s paintings are online at www.laurawallace.co.uk, which features a print gallery with prices from £35
*Photos by Sam Oakes and Suzy Mitchell