Interiors with Sarah Jane Nielsen, owner and director of Sarah Jane Nielsen Limited, at Staveley.

More New Year refurbishments are waiting to greet you at Cragwood and Merewood County House hotels. They are really upping the ante and giving their customers a treat with a staged redecoration and furnishing of the reception area and front staircase with a complete refit of the ladies and gents toilets at Cragwood, and new bedrooms at Merewood.

Both properties are unique in their own characteristics and architecture, so our aim is to keep them individual, but enhanced in their own imitable style and projection for the future.

The Cragwood scheme is intended to uphold details of the old house’s original Arts and Crafts period. It would be fabulous to authentically recreate the gorgeous warm oak panelling, timber floors and stair ornament of the original, all that wonderful carving.

However, with sense and practicality, we hope we have given the spaces a feel of their heritage, so that when you move through the hotel the new and the old will eventually flow into one with some obvious contemporary upgrades and some consistency.

We would like to keep the first impressions warm and welcoming as well as bringing in the light. Light paint colours of Farrow and Ball Pointing in the porch and the Shaded White of the panelling add crispness by contrast to the deep colours in the soft furnishings designed with longevity and wear and tear in mind. The dominant curtain loose watercolour print and colour reflects the era. The customised carpet, first designed and laid several years ago from the corridors to the back of the house, are now being recoloured to reflect the new scheme for the staircase and reception hall. There is the ‘as ever’ debate as to red being the colour to add wow and warmth within the hospitality arena, however, we feel other more natural palettes of olives, nutmeg and hemp provide the practicality and the depth to carry accent colours of yellow ochre and mustards. Which all help remind us we are in the Lake District.

Even red has its place in the overall design, but in moderation. For example, in the Nixon Lounge, where brainstorming and group activities take place and are proactive and fundamental to the business of developing and training people. Some colours activate the mind, like red, some calm it down, like green. The hotel is a treasured wedding and leisure venue so the new reception and stairs should be inviting. We also hope there will be an element of ‘wow.’ The Merewood Hotel design reflects a slightly more glamorous and classical personality in keeping with its higher and more ornate ceilings. The grand stair case and intricate leaded lights allow a more flamboyant approach with large damask wallpapers comfortably adorning the walls. The more elegant, tall windows can afford more fabric and ornament. Although within a similar era, the two are sisters of complementary stature. They just demand alternative treatment in the world of interior design.