Sue also sourced antique furniture to be used throughout the castle.
“I was able to pick up really nice pieces for a reasonable amount, again travelling the country looking at every antique shop I came across. We found a local upholsterer, Ghyll House Upholstery, who upholstered over 80 pieces in total. They were a great asset. Andy Blundell, a local furniture restorer from Penrith, was pivotal too, restoring all the antique furniture back to its original beauty. He also restored the beautiful staircase in the Main Entrance Hall, a huge task, which included over 300 repairs to the carved oak."
For the bathrooms, Sue worked closely alongside Paddy, who cleverly designed each to maximise light and space. All the interior fittings, tiles and paint colours were carefully chosen by Sue from elegant and authentic materials.
Much of Sue’s inspiration came from the English Country House style made popular by Nancy Lancaster, a pioneer of interior design from the 1950s. It’s a style that combines comfort with elegance, which felt like the perfect fit for the peace and reconciliation programmes that were going to be held at the castle, but also a style that was classical and timeless that would sit well in such a historic setting.
“Nancy Lancaster had a saying that stayed with me the whole time: ‘Elegantly informal, historically sensitive and supremely comfortable.’ That was my guideline in getting started with the style.”
A labour of love
For Sue, working on the interior design for the castle has been a real labour of love, and there have been challenges along the way.
“Working in an 800-year-old castle had its challenges. Adding just a single light can become complicated when you’re working with lath and plaster and solid, seven-foot thick walls! But we worked closely with the contractor's Lambert & Gill and JJ Electric who were amazing.”
Rose Castle has been a huge part of Sue’s life for five and a half years and has often seen her home filled with mountains of fabric as she worked from the dining room table.
"It completely took over my life and my home as I stored all the soft furnishings and quite a lot of furniture! Though extremely hard work it has been an immense privilege to be part of the castle's rebirth, setting it up for the next 100 or so years. One of the best things has been to be part of a much larger community effort, working with a multidisciplinary team and a band of volunteers to restore this magnificent place."