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A magical get away cottage on the Isle of Skye is owned by creative Emma Whyte. I met Emma at the Christmas Midcentury Modern show in Dulwich, London, run by  one of the show founders Lucy Ryder Richardson (watch out for her fab Midcentry book coming out soon)

After a chat, and my fascination with Emma’s furniture we were discussing the piles of wallpaper offcuts I have left in the studio after sending out wallpaper samples and displaying my work at shows. I’m now proud to say that Emma has some of my wallpaper in her gorgeous cottage on the Isle of Skye which was featured in Coast Magazine and I thought the work she did on this property was so special I wanted to share it with my customers… so I talked Emma into doing a little Q&A to highlight her fab work!

The gorgeous cottage is also available to rent by the week so if you want someone to get away from it all which is beautiful inside and out this could be the perfect place for you!!

How did you start working with up cycling and where did you learn your techniques?

I lived on an old wooden narrow boat as a student, it needed a lot of TLC so necessity became the mother of invention. I also went to evening classes in upholstery and furniture restoration, the rest was trial and error. 

You up-cycle old furniture, how do you choose which vintage pieces will look best with your technique?

I tend to look for furniture that really needs rescuing, rather than interfering with something that is already lovely in it’s own right. A good example is an old dressing table I found on the street (picture below) the veneer on the drawers was destroyed so I filled the holes and re-covered the drawers. It’s now one of my favourite pieces.You’ve had your gorgeous cottage in Skye featured in Coast magazine, it looks like a huge project, from start to finish, can you tell us the story about why you started your revamp?

The boiler blew up and covered the kitchen with a layer of soot! We decided to to replace it with something sustainable which also meant enlarging the fireplace and installing a wood burner in the lounge; the whole thing just snowballed from there.

What was the biggest challenge for the project and what are you most proud of?

Working with an erratic plumber! And finding an environmentally friendly floor paint that actually works – after lots of research I found a brilliant product by Remmers, it’s designed for car showrooms, comes in any shade you specify and is water based. Totally brilliant and highly recommended.

I’m most proud of my bird book wall in the lounge, (middle image at the top) it features birds you can see from the window and just fits the space perfectly.

What inspired your style in the cottage?

The cottage itself I think. It was built in the 1950’s so lent itself naturally to a mid century, retro feel. One of the old kitchen cabinets had been left in the coal shed so we reinstated it and things seemed to grow from that.

I love the old books you have turned into wallpaper, where do you find your books and how do you choose which pages to go onto the wall?

Car boot sales and charity shops. Then when I find a book I love, I look for more copies of it on Amazon. Books that work well tend to have lots of colourful images and a uniform layout which makes for a good repeat.

What is your favourite thing about visiting the cottage in Skye and do you have any tips for people wanting to visit the island?

I love the feeling of space more than anything, and the incredible ever changing weather. Bring water proofs and prepare to embrace the elements – the rain is usually horizontal!

You had Coast Magazine come and do a photoshoot at the cottage, what was it like to have photographers come and visit?

Great! Though it’s a long process setting up each shot and there’s a lot of waiting for the right light then rushing to get the picture before it disappears again. 

Thank you for choosing the Juneberry and bird wallpaper and the Willow tit wallpaper in your gorgeous cottage in Skye. Please can you let us know why you chose these two designs?

It was a bit of lightbulb moment really, I saw Lorna’s designs at the Mid Century Modern show and just knew straight away that they would work with what I was planning.

Do you have any tips for using any offcuts of wallpaper left over from home projects?

Don’t throw anything out! You can use them in loads of ways, from a cut out motif on a handmade card to re-vamping an enormous wardrobe. If you are using wallpaper on furniture make sure the edges are well glued so they don’t begin to lift. I use lots of layers of varnish and then a final coat of beeswax; the finish looks and feels like vintage Formica and wears well too.

See more of Emma’s work on her website

Photographs by David Barbour for Coast Magazine and Emma Whyte.

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