CAMBRIDGE EVENING NEWS EDITORIAL
Living & Life Weekend Supplement
Listening to the sound of their children and friends relaxing at home is like music to the ears of Steve and Tracy Streater.
They were just teenagers living in London when they met at a wedding but Steve's career in the music industry has meant building a home together has sometimes been a bit hit and miss. Steve plays guitar and piano but it was the technical side of the sound studio that eventually drew him into music production, and he was on the road as a sound expert with Kim Wilde and her band.
"But I found I was spending too little time with Tracey and the birth of our first child, Emily, I really longed to be at home with them. Families and touring just don't go together, I seemed to miss all the important moments like when Emily took her first steps," said Steve.
So they looked around for somewhere to bring up a family and Steve decided to go into the audio/visual business, designing rooms and even whole buildings to receive state-of-the art entertainment. They found shop premises in Cambridge and renovated a small house in St Ives but by then baby number four was on the way and they wanted a home that would grow with them.
Just over two years ago they found a spacious, detached house in Cambourne but Steve and Tracy once again were too busy coping with work and family to spend much time on the house itself. A chance meeting on the village green changed all that.
Interior designer Lorna Higgins was walking her elegant Weimaraner dogs, Flo and Winston, on one of Lower Cambourne 's greens when she met Steve with his family's Doberman, Rosie. "We got to talking about the dogs and then houses and we invited her round to see if she could help us with the house," said Steve.
With five bedrooms, a family room, a dining room the house was something of a blank canvas and the Streaters wanted a warm, welcoming atmosphere as soon as possible. "I had ideas on how to fix up the audio and television side of things - though Tracy did ban me from fixing a plasma screen in the conservatory as she thought there must be one place in the house where we could just all talk and be together. But I didn't really have time to do the decorating," said Steve.
Tracy said: "I had some ideas but with four children and the youngest a baby I was just too tired to decorate a house from top to bottom. I knew I wanted a chocolate and cream family room but apart from that I didn't know where to start. The great thing about Lorna is that she finds things that we love to live with."
The junior Streaters were happy to suggest colours for their own rooms, with Emily, 12, Sophie, nine and Jamie, eight, coming up with vibrant ideas and Tracy chose a soft yellow for two year old Charlie's nursery. But then she turned to Lorna for help.
Lorna has been building up her own interior design company over the last year or two. I have always enjoyed working on homes and had made a lot of very good contacts and found some brilliant suppliers so I decided to use all this new information and concentrate on doing something I love. The main step is to get to know what the client is looking for and then track it down for them. Sometimes it is in the sheer choice out there which confuses people and they give up."
The Streaters had two large russet coloured sofas which they wanted to keep for their sitting room and Lorna chose a bold colour for the walls, Farrow and Ball's Print Room Yellow, and textured silk curtains picking up warm yellow and red thread and to bring character to the room she sought out African style accessories including wooden bowls and vases. She put in a picture rail to bring down the height of the ceiling to make it seem cosier and tied the new furnishings into the existing sofas by choosing cushion fabric incorporating the room's main colours.
Said Tracy : "We love the effect, before the room was very bare and featureless but now it is very welcoming and very grown up for Steve and I to relax in."
Dulux colours Cookie Dough and Gentle Fawn warmed up other expanses of previously white walls and Lorna made much of the huge wall spaces in the hallway and landing to place stylish photographic artwork. In the master bedroom Mulberry and Truffle, colours by Homebase and glamorous mirrored bedside tables from Laura Ashley give a really luxurious mood while touches of black, aubergine and granite in the en suite bathroom stop it being too girlie.
Steve was keen to have the audio/visual equipment easily operated in every room by remote control and he had quite a lot to do with LED lighting throughout the house so the mood can be changed from room to room. "There was a time when huge plasma screens were huge prices but you can get good ones now for under £1,800. The biggest project I have ever done for a client was fitting £80,000 worth of equipment into a house - it was quite amazing."