When it comes to dark walls, cowboy chic interiors and of course luxury sheepskin rugs, Cowboy Kate knows her thing. Living in a 400-year-old house in Cumbria with her husband, Cowboy Kate's has not left one space untouched by her creative and maximalist magic. Every surface, floor, shelving unit and wall is dressed from top to bottom with quirky pieces, ornaments with a lot of attitude and of course lots of super cool sheepskins! A fan of the dark side, Cowboy Kate's walls are all painted in sumptuous blacks that creates an epic backdrop for her carefully curated pieces.
Maximalism done well, Cowboy Kate has curated a space that is totally unique. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
We adore Cowboy Kate's style at Rockett St George, and so of course, we're absolutely thrilled when she agreed to allow us to come and shoot her home for the Rockett St George book: Extraordinary Interiors. A interiors genius, we sat down with the fabulous Cowboy Kate to find out more about her home, her business and her top three favourite RSG pieces...
A beautiful antique French Style Dressing table, accessorised with greenery, an upholstered armchair and special treasures. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
1. Let’s start at the very beginning. Tell us about yourself and your business?
For the last 14 years, I’ve lived in (and been restoring) a beautiful 408-year-old house sandwiched between the Forest of Bowland, Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District, with my husband John, my 21-year-old son George and my black Patterdale Terrier, Frank. I grew up in Bronte Country on the edge of Haworth Moor and maybe this influenced my great passion for 19th Century English Literature and the Theatre. People often tell me that my interiors are quite dramatic and I think my involvement for 40 odd years in AMDRAM may have something to do with that .
My early career as a fashion model and later as a presenter, has taken me all over the world and I've been lucky to have lived in many different places but I feel truly at home where I am right now, in a crumbling old house in a remote Yorkshire Village. I was always arty at school was very interested in design and particularly Interiors at an early age. But after following the many trends and fashions over the years it wasn't until I bought this house that I found the confidence to develop my own style, one that I was truly comfortable with and I think as the house renovations evolved, so did my way of decorating and furnishing it. It blows my mind to think that my house was built when Shakespeare was still alive...oh if only walls could speak, what stories it might tell! Jacobean in design originally, the Georgians moved in and made many alterations, installing floor to ceiling windows on the ground floor, archways, corbels, deep skirtings etc which we are lucky to still have. The Victorians added a tower to the house to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and also stables and a coach house when it became a coaching Inn for a spell. In the 70's it was extended again when for many years it was a popular 'restaurant with rooms' and was frequented by Television and film stars, Politicians and rumour has it that it's haunted! I haven't seen anything spooky yet but if the rumours are true, I think our ghost must have a penchant for chocolate biscuits as they are ALWAYS disappearing!
I discovered Instagram a couple of years ago and used it mainly as a personal photograph album but one day I happened to post a picture of my house and for the first time used a hashtag and that's when the magic happened! Suddenly I discovered that there was a whole bunch of other Interior Fanatics out there and in the last year or so, I've been lucky enough to meet some lovely and hugely inspiring, talented people. A year ago, I posted a picture of one of my sofas with a sheepskin draped across it and an insta pal asked me to source a similar one for her. Before I knew it, I was shipping ethically sourced, British rare Breed and Icelandic Sheepskins all over the world, including (would you believe) New Zealand, where I think the population of sheep outnumber that of humans! Incredible! And that is how my little business began. I personally hand select every single sheepskin, taking care to choose only the ones that I would be thrilled to own myself and the best bit? I get to see most of them all styled up in their new 'furever homes' via Instagram.
As for the company name... well I've had a bit of a life time obsession with the work of legendary Photographer Sam Haskins who had a book called Cowboy Kate & Other stories and I also used to front a local band called 'Cowboy Kate & The Love Bunnies' and the name stuck. My friends prefer to call me 'Cowboy' in the village, not Kate.... I'm not sure whether that has dodgy connotations or not but I like it 🙂
The grand piano with Swiss Cheese plant takes centre stage in Cowboy Kate's living room. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
2. 'Describe your personal style? How have you incorporated this into your home?'
Ok, this is a toughie. I really don't know what words to describe my own style. 'Dark Eclectic Cowboy Boho Glam'. Maybe?! I think that just about covers it. I'm laughing here.
3. Your house is beautifully decorated with dark and moody walls – a Rockett St George favourite! What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of decorating their walls in dark colours?
Ok well, that's an easy one. Throw caution to the wind, buy the dark paint, be bold and GO FOR IT! Try it out! What's to lose? In this age of the internet, it's easy to find many pictures to draw inspiration from and many different interior styles can incorporate the look..even the usual 'all white' Scandi style looks fabulous with dark and inky hues! But don't stop at the wall colour. Keep adding the layers and textures...soft furnishings, art, rugs, sheepskins (of course) lighting...oh yes...Lighting! Lighting is THE most important factor in any interior design and I think it can often be overlooked. Play around with various lighting sources to create different kinds of moods. As well as my floor and table lamps for instance, I also like to use a lot of rope lighting on the floor around the periphery of the rooms. They really do open up space to a dramatic effect! Best advice of all...don't be frightened of making mistakes (everybody does!) and have fun!
Best advice of all...don't be frightened of making mistakes (everybody does!) and have fun!
A picture wall featuring Gill Button's amazing artwork hangs above the black sofa making this spot the ultimate reading zone. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
4. Sheepskins are your thing! What unique ways would you recommend to style sheepskins throughout the home?
As you would expect, I have sheepskins in every room. I can't get enough of them! They come in so many different colours and textures and are so versatile. No skill is needed to style a sheepskin; they seem to look good whatever you do with them. I have them thrown on beds, chairs, sofas...I even have a coarse-haired British rare breed hanging on a bedroom wall! Have an old comfy sofa that you can't afford to have re-upholstered? Cover it in Sheepskins!
5. Which room in your home is your favourite place to kick back and relax? Explain why?
I think it would have to be the room we call the study. It's full of some of my favourite things... a big floor to ceiling window overlooking the garden, plants, art, a battered chesterfield sofa (covered in sheepies of course), a log burner and most importantly of all, books. I'm an avid reader.
The golden metallic colour of our Palm Tree Table Lamp, along with the golden tones of the juju hat contrast beautifully with Cowboy Kate's dark walls. As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
6. What piece of art, artefact or furniture in your home has a special significance to you and why?
That would be a huge, eight foot tall, French Antique Mirror which my mother bought me for my 50th birthday. It had been rescued from an old bridal shop that was awaiting demolition. It now leans against my dining room wall and every time I look at it, I imagine how it must have revealed to many hundreds of joyful faces of brides-to-be, the first glimpse of how they would look on their wedding day.
7. When decorating or shopping, what influences your own personal style at home?
I like to achieve a combination of laid-back casual style and high impact Drama. The two contradict each other so it can be quite challenging sometimes.
Cowboy Kate's stunning paint effect wall in her dining room ... isn't it beautiful?! As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
8. Where do you get your interiors inspiration from? Name three extraordinary accounts to follow on Instagram?
Choosing only three is going to be very difficult indeed because there are so many incredibly inspirational feeds on Instagram but off the top of my head...
9. What is next for Cowboy Kate?
A cup of my favourite strong builders tea 🙂 Seriously though, there are some exciting plans afoot...watch this space 🙂
A bathroom of dreams ... we love everything about this room! As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.
10. Finally, name 2 RSG products that you love!
Oh, you keep hitting me with difficult questions! How can I choose only TWO! Ok, here goes...
1. Rockett St George Lighting- ALL of it. That counts as one, right?
2. The 'Glossy Noir' Tableware. I need it.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
1. I am happiest when… The weighing scales tell me I'm skinny.
2. My favourite magazine is… World of Interiors.
3. My dream holiday would be… Touring the USA in an Airstream Caravan.
4. My ideal day would be spent…. In my garden on a sunny day.
5. My personal motto is… Carry your sense of humour at all times.
6. My guilty pleasure is… Jason Bourne.
7. The last film I saw was… Bourne Supremacy (again).
8. My favourite book is… 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' by Milan Kundera.
9. In five years’ time, I want to be… Alive.
10. The three things I can’t live without are… Wifi, Literature, boots.