House Tours

At home with… Lisa Dawson

Writer and interior guru Lisa Dawson (@_lisa_dawson_) is an icon for creating a home that’s timeless yet packed with personality; a place where classic and antique clashes beautifully into chic style.

Moving from just outside of Reading to the beautifully cobbled streets of York, she’s created a home that draws together the practicality of her everyday, with sentimental pieces she’s curated over the years. Discover her inspiration behind her eclectic home, top tips on weaving together the old and the new, and advice on party planning…

A vintage house

Living in her current home for almost a decade, Lisa has created a home that truly reflects her personality. “We live in a detached Georgian property, built in 1759. We’ve lived here in this house since 2015 and have made lots of update over the years so that it works well for our family. We moved from Caversham, near Reading, in 2013 as my husband, Joe, was offered a job here. We didn’t intend to stay many years but we liked it so much here that we decided to stay a while! Our children have mostly grown up here so Yorkshire is most definitely their home.”

“I found a picture of our home from about 15 years ago and weirdly, it looked very similar to the way our home does now. I’ve always been crazy about both art and vintage and this theme has continued throughout my interior evolution!”

Striking a balance between the old and new can be tricky so Lisa shares her tops on how she’s mastered the aesthetic. “I nearly always keep the bones of my house very simple – neutral walls and floors, simple window dressings, plain tiles. I add the colour and pattern via accessories and artwork. The perfect room for me comprises a mix of contemporary and vintage – the juxtaposition of these two styles works perfectly, not just from an aesthetic point of view but also from a sustainable perspective.”

I never buy for a space

Lisa Dawson

We’ve all done it… bought outlandish home accessories to specifically match one space, only to restyle the room a few years later and have to bury them away in the loft. “I buy because I love and as such, that piece will continue throughout my home, through various rooms and updates, making it a long term investment rather than a trend based purchase.”

Modular at first sight

New for SS23 Lisa styles her Slim Long Island in Cinnamon Smart Velvet around art and greenery that brings out its warm tones “I loved the Slim Long Island sofa on sight due to the fact it was modular! It was also super deep which my family love and was a simple, contemporary style that wouldn’t date. I am a big fan of modular sofas as they are such a flexible addition to a home, with the ability to not only be moved around easily but also in some cases reconfigured to fit smaller or bigger rooms.”

“The Cinnamon Smart Velvet was the perfect colour for my home – again, a good, solid neutral tone that will last the course. The Smart Velvet meant that the dog and the cat could jump on and I wouldn’t need to worry that they’d spoil it!”

Designing effortless chic

The ironic key behind an effortless style? Planning! “I never start planning out a room without creating a mood board. I create mood boards for pretty much everything! They are the perfect way to work out what you really like without hanging the wallpaper or slapping on the paint and then regretting it. I use Canva but PowerPoint works just as well; add the elements that you’re considering to your board and then move it all about, adding and taking away until it gels for you.”

A tricky balance to strike is creating a home full of personality that still looks timeless and doesn’t involve a decorating overhaul when you fancy a change. “In my own home, I tend to stick to a neutral background as I am passionate about adding art and colour so it makes it much easier for me to be flexible about pulling it all together. It also means that I can move all of my pieces around the house if I want to refresh a space; nothing is colour or pattern themed and therefore can easily be multi tasked. I like to think that people who visit like how we live because it reflects us and our personality!”

Each room of Lisa’s home has a different vibe and feel to it… the cosy nook filled with bouclé and antique paintings, the dining area that exports you to a Spanish courtyard. “It’s so easy to be influenced by trends and friends but really, the only person who lives there is you and it’s important to remember this when you’re adding new things.  All homes tell a design story – they’re an evolution of your style over time – and sometimes it takes a while to create a space that really does work for you.”

A good tip is to work out how you want that room to make you feel.

Lisa Dawson

Cosy? Industrious? Calm? Invigorated? Look at what you already own first (an excellent process called shopping your home) and see which could work in the new space and then keep adding to a mood board until you get the feel that you want. And also, don’t be scared to juxtapose styles. The days of the essential inclusion of a three piece suite or bedroom furniture set are long gone and mixing stylish contemporary buys with vintage finds creates a far more individual look which is also more long term sustainable.”

The more the merrier

Along with style, your interior should be practical for your life, and for Lisa, this means building a sociable space. “We love a party and always have done – in our previous home we were exactly the same! Dinner parties are my favourite, with lots of friends around a sociable table. I get lots of joy from styling a beautiful table, dragging out all of my charity shop found glassware and mixing it up with more modern pieces. A pretty tablecloth, some lovely candle holders and a big bunch of greenery from the garden will create a table to remember…”

“I always keep my menu really simple, ensuring that all the recipes that I choose are ones that can be prepared in advance so that I don’t end up in the kitchen all night. My daughter’s 21st was the biggest we had held in this house and as always, I kept it fairly simple. I planned every single thing in advance, with a candy table complete with paper bags to put it in, a large decorated table allocated as a bar and a pizza van on the driveway which was a huge success. We made sure that we moved all the furniture from the middle of the rooms, so that there was easy access to seating and places to put drinks.”

“It’s always important to consider everyone when you’re party planning and not everyone wants to stand up with a drink all night. The great thing about a sofa such as the Slim Long Island is that it slots nicely into any social occasion – it works really well as it can easily seat a few or more without feeling cramped, perfect for those who want to put their feet up rather than hang around the bar.  It’s easy to move around as well so if you have a lot of people, you can reconfigure it to fit the space.”