Alyson Savage is a busy and talented lady. Not only is she the owner of The Secret Garden in Richmond - a fabulous two-bedroom property with a hot tub in the walled garden - but Alyson also owns Niche Living in Barnard Castle, a gorgeous little shop that specialises in everything you need to make your home beautiful.
Working as an interior designer – Alyson also knows a thing or two about creating the perfect holiday let having designed lots of them from start to finish. The Secret Garden is the first holiday home Alyson has created for herself, and was originally her own beloved cottage in Richmond.
Why The Secret Garden?
When I first discovered the cottage I absolutely loved the name and the fact that even though the property is so close to the centre of Richmond, the walled garden is so quiet and peaceful. I come from a gardening background (I owned a garden centre at the time) so discovering The Secret Garden seemed like fate!
How did you get into interior design?
I was always interested in design and I started off designing gardens and sourcing gorgeous pieces for my own home. It got to the point I was collecting so many pieces that opening a shop was the next logical step. I opened the shop Niche Living in Barnard Castle and went from designing gardens to designing houses. I love sourcing beautiful items from around the world and pulling a look together for my customers.
Tell us about your interiors for The Secret Garden
Every piece in The Secret Garden has come from Niche Living and I really wanted to make it into a beautiful haven for guests. I’ve used key pieces to really elevate the room – for example, I’ve used a £2,500 rug in the living room and covered furniture in fabrics from the shop to create unique statement pieces. I think it is so important that a property has a personality and isn’t bland!
One of my favourite pieces is the kitchen dresser which has been painted to give it a new lease of life. Other items (such as the headboards) are completely bespoke to finish off the look of the room.
The wallpapers and paints are Farrow and Ball and Zoffany – not only does this give strong colours but good quality paints are easier to clean and touch up so that everything looks fresh.
Any design tips you can give us?
Lighting is so important in creating a mood in the property, but it is important that lighting should work for different situations. In the cottage, for example, guests can choose between soft and strong lighting. Keep furniture clean and simple – less is more sometimes. It is worth spending on good quality furniture that is built to last and try to go for timeless looks that will work from season to season.
Don’t forget about the outside space as well. I decided to go for a hot tub with the Secret Garden to make a real sanctuary for guests. There’s also a table and chairs, a selection of plants and twinkly lights to make things even more special on darker nights.
Do you have any other secrets you can share?
One thing I think works really well is having a signature scent for the property with a quality diffuser. It’s something people notice immediately and elevates the cottage. It’s also really important to keep your quality level throughout. For example I use 460 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets that are super soft for guests.
The Niche Living shop is in Barnard Castle as well as online and sells a variety of decorative items for the home. The Secret Garden is available to book through Gorgeous Cottages. If you are thinking of letting a holiday cottage, give the team a call on 01642 263 249.