Ursula and Oliver Ojikutu’s home makes for a grand canvas for their artwork.
The wealth of work on show ranges from personal pieces by family members to more contemporary wall hangings.
Mother-of-one Ursula believes that due to their backgrounds, making a cultural contribution to their home was an essential component for the Victorian Grade II listed home.
Ursula, originally from Derry in Ireland and her husband, Oliver, who grew up in the US, have retained The Old Vicarage’s period features, such as sash windows, fireplaces, period cornicing and stained-glass windows, but added their own more contemporary theme.
Built in the 1850s, the expansive stone property is a far cry from the humble birthplace of railway engineer, George Stephenson which lies nearby.
Ursula said: “The house makes for a beautiful canvas as there is so much space both inside and out.”
Once associated with classical dark reds, greens and terracotta hues, Ursula and Oliver have given their Victorian home new meaning with a fresh clean palette of neutral-based colours that are more pleasing on the eye.
The couple’s ornamental additions collected on their travels worldwide add lustre, harmony and intrigue to their private space.
Although the couple have only lived in their Wylam home for three years, the location has been an ideal base for commuting to Newcastle International Airport where Oliver is a pilot.
Ursula said: “When we saw the property for the first time, its period features really stood out. I loved its high ceilings, dual aspect windows and stained-glass windows. I have a passion for Victorian architecture, so it was just perfect for us. Unlike many properties of its era, the one thing I noticed was just how bright and roomy it was.”
The house, which is set back from the road and surrounded by mature gardens and grounds, has been sympathetically extended and refurbished over the years.
Accommodation within this Grade II Listed home is over three floors and designed for the demands of today’s cosmopolitan tastes. An entrance porch and lobby lead into a welcoming reception hall which is flooded with light from its magnificent leaded windows on the half landing.
The dual aspect drawing room provides a great entertaining space with period fireplace with multi-fuel stove, while there is also a large family room/playroom. A dining room is to the other side of the hallway, which overlooks the front garden. It is one of Ursula’s favourite spaces.
She said: “It’s a lovely bright and airy space.”
The kitchen is also a firm favourite with Ursula who describes it as the ‘heart of the home’.
She said: “The kitchen has a central island with granite worktops, an AGA and there is a traditional walk-in pantry with marble slab and hanging hooks. I really love it.”
Upstairs are seven bedrooms, five on the first floor, one with en suite and two more to the second floor with exposed beams and stunning view over the gardens.
With entertainment and lifestyle high on the couple’s agenda, the gardens and all-weather tennis court are well-used. And when Oliver is not jetting off to a far-flung destination, the couple love nothing better than replacing the daily commute with a countryside stroll.
Ursula said: “We are truly spoiled having the tennis court here. It’s just wonderful. Oliver is also a keen cyclist and there are some great routes into Corbridge. The waggonway is also perfect for walking our dog, Irish border spaniel, Murphy.
“The all-season gardens have been landscaped so that they are always colourful no matter what time of year it is. There’s a vegetable garden and a range of fruit trees.”
Oliver’s playful spirit, meanwhile, is captured in a wooden treehouse he has erected in the garden.
Ursula said: “Oliver built Tilly the house in the garden. It’s perfect for when she has friends around. We also have a big terrace area which is great for entertaining. The property is ideal when we have family over from the US and France.”
Wylam is a very desirable location, popular spot with commuters. With its quaint streets, shops, bars and restaurants, the village radiates a warm community feel.
“Living here offers the best of both worlds, there is village security in knowing there is always someone close by, but once you close the door, it’s such a private, quiet family space,” said Ursula.
She added: “There is still scope for development as there is an attic which could be transformed. We are moving because we’d like to start our own grand design with stables for a pony. Tilly would also really like a swimming pool.
“This house is perfect for a family. There is also potential for anyone who is looking to create an annexe for elderly parents, or teenagers.”
The Old Vicarage, Wylam, Northumberland, is for sale at £1,195,000 through Finest Properties, tel: 01434 622234.