CITY MINDSET; RURAL SETTING
Far from the countryside cry of muted palettes and swag curtains, the spaces created by Bess’ practice, Sturman & Co, are a bold, brave and colourful manifestation of her clients’ culturally-infused lives, acquired from years of city-dwelling, which are then enhanced by a rural setting attainable in Yorkshire.
“The desire for rural living spaces which celebrate the owners’ appreciation for contemporary culture, alongside a single-minded, space-conscious approach to living, is increasingly what drives our design direction. It’s about taking the very best of the city-liver’s mindset and opening up the possibilities even further by incorporating light, space and far-reaching views that an urban home cannot access as readily,” said Bess.
“As a designer, I am interested in exploring the lives of the people that live in the homes I curate - from how they use spaces day-to-day, through to their individual personalities, their life stories and their aesthetic preferences. What I find wonderful about working with properties here in Yorkshire, is that all of these things really do come to life when set against a backdrop of more space, breath-taking vistas and natural light,” Bess continued.
“In essence, my aim for a Sturman & Co design is to cater for home perfection in the eyes of just one family: I’d rather be one person’s whisky than everyone’s cup of tea.”
One of the ways that Bess achieves this juxtaposition of an urban inclination with the natural environment is by creating single-minded spaces. This philosophy centres around reducing the number of functions a space has or needs which results in a simple, calm way of living. The rooms she designs are ‘masters of one’ function, regardless of the size of the house, meaning they are not compromised by trying to cater for multiple daily activities.
“We don’t all have to have the same things in our homes. For example, a client with a small kitchen, who doesn’t have the budget or space to expand, may want to maximise surface space by adding an island. My advice would be that if the space is already small, day-to-day living will only be stilted further with the addition of a breakfast bar: keep the space free to dance around the kitchen and create memories!”
Design in practice
Prior to launching Sturman & Co. in 2011, Bess lived in London, Manchester and Leeds, working in legal practice, and it was this fast-paced life that served to sew the seeds for her simple, purposeful home life in Ilkley today.
Working alongside her design team, Bess now incorporates this ‘city mindset; rural setting’ direction into many of her clients’ schemes which range from whole house renovations and space planning, through to lighting and bespoke furniture designs.
As well as residential work, Bess also undertakes commercial projects and in 2016, she won the North Design Award for her interior design of Ilkley Cinema. Bess is one of only a handful of interior designers in Yorkshire who meets the highest standard for interior designers in the UK, as set by the British Institute for Interior Designers. Most recently, Sturman & Co, has been shortlisted for an International Design and Architecture Award for an 18th century barn conversion carried out here in the Wharfe Valley.