people and places7 min read

Sawcliffe Manor: an ancestral home turned colourful escape

Sawcliffe Manor

WordsMegan Lambert


Earlier this year, we took a trip to North Lincolnshire to visit Sawcliffe Manor, the centuries-old ancestral home belonging to the Elwes family. A labour of love spanning three decades today, it is a characterful and colourful holiday home. We took a tour around the property and chatted to Emily Elwes about why colour is not to be feared, how to use leftover paint to transform your stairs, and the plan for redecorating their Library Room.

What’s the history behind Sawcliffe Manor? Do you feel a need to maintain its traditional style or do you feel like you have the freedom to put your own stamp on it?

Sawcliffe is a farmhouse with very ancient roots dating back to the Middle Ages. We’ve spent almost 30 years renovating it and now, with the help of the income that we generate from hosting large groups of Airbnb guests (we sleep up to 48) we’re working on saving its numerous out-buildings from ruin too.

In many ways, the manor’s history really dictates the style of the rooms, as its original features are so strong. We have living rooms with Tudor stone windows and Inglenooks on one end of the Manor, and others with high Georgian ceilings and panelled windows, each dictates what it wants and we let that inspire us. We wish there was a science to it that we could share with you, but our style is very much dictated by gut feeling and whatever we feel like experimenting with at the time!

Sawcliffe Manor

The house is a gorgeous mix of old and new. Would you say the wall mural in your kitchen, proclaiming “Out with the old and in with the new” sums up your attitude towards decorating? 

“Out with the old in with the new” is our life motto. To let something new in you have to let go of something old. We don’t like to be too precious about decorating and things in our life - we like to have fun and be creative wherever we can. Life is short, and this manor will certainly outlive us!

Sawcliffe Manor

Sawcliffe Manor is a heady mix of traditional furnishings paired with textiles from around the world and a liberal dose of colour. What would you describe your style as and how do you approach marrying different elements together? 

Maximalism with a whole lot of fun added in. We love to collect inspiration and colour combinations from all over Europe.

The only thing we love more than a hand-painted staircase is a hand-painted staircase using leftover paints. Where did the inspiration come from and how did you decide on the colours and designs that you went for? 

Oh, well we just used all the leftover wood paint that we had and let creativity take hold. Mum likes to paint in a ‘naive’ style, so she doesn’t think too much about making her patterns perfect. If it goes wrong, you can always paint over it.