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Award-winning Ilkley-based interior designer, Bess Sturman, interprets an appetite for city-inspired living in a rural landscape.

F ar from the countryside cry of muted palettes and swag curtains, the spaces created by Bess’ practice, Sturman & Co, are a bold, brave and subtly 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.

Bess says: “The desire for rural living spaces which celebrate the owners’ appreciation for contemporary culture, alongside a space-conscious approach to living, is increasingly what drives our design direction. It’s about taking the very best of the city-dweller’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.”

Another way that Bess incorporates a city-dweller’s style and story into a rural home is to make the pieces they have acquired on their world travels focal points in a scheme.

“Many of our clients have stayed in hotels around the globe which have inspired a look or feel commonly associated with urban living and we design their homes to include these features, without them feeling out of place against a rural backdrop,” says Bess.

“Attending design shows is also a key part of the process and allows us to discover the latest trends and solutions that will make our designs truly current and contemporary. Adding clean lines and sophistication also helps our schemes stand apart from styles more commonly associated with rural living.

“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.”

Alongside the light and space that Yorkshire naturally offers, Bess then designs to encourage and enhance human connection. She will get to know her clients and their families, understand how they function and relax in their homes, and then design to make the experiences within these spaces the best they can possibly be.

“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 may only be stilted further with the addition of more furniture: keep it simple and leave the space free to dance around the kitchen and create memories!”

“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 create a home that is one person’s favourite whisky, than everyone’s cup of tea.”

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.

To find out more about Bess’ work, visit or follow her
on Instagram @bess_designs

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