WHEN voiceover artist Emma Curran decided to buy a holiday cottage to rent out, she knew exactly what she wanted. Intimately, in fact, as she had owned it before. Back in 2005, when she moved from London to the North-East, she had fallen in love with the handsome Grade II listed cottage and thought the dream property would be the place she would grow old in.

Then she met husband Mark and her plans changed. He had had three children and it quickly became clear the quaint Richmond property wouldn’t be big enough for all of them. “We ended up house-swapping,” she says. “The lady we bought our Staindrop home from had family in Richmond, and she downsized into the cottage.”

Now two of the children are at university, the oldest is training to be a solicitor, and only Emma, Mark, their nine-year-old son Tom and Digger the dog are at home full-time. The couple, who had talked about buying a cottage to rent, decided it was time to take the plunge.

“We already knew and loved this one, so when it came back on the market at the end of last year, we went to take a look,” says Emma. “It needed some work doing, mainly cosmetic, but we’re used to old buildings so it wasn’t too daunting.”

They used local craftsmen to work on the fabric of Castle & Cobbles, taking recommendations from friends, and found an excellent plumber, joiner, carpet fitter and decorator in the Richmond area. Emma and Mark did the painting, as well as other work in the cottage.

They also employed the services of experienced interior designers Alyson Savage and Victoria Jeavons of Barnard Castle-based Niche Living. The mother and daughter team are well-known for their work designing creative interiors for holiday cottages in the area

"I met Aly not long after I originally moved into the cottage in Richmond, and so she has known the cottage almost as long as I have,” says Emma. “Rather than giving Niche Living a brief, we just trusted Aly to create a colour scheme and plan the soft furnishings for us. She knew what would work and what we’d like, a combination of contemporary and traditional. The cottage is full of features and what Aly added brings it up to date.”

Of course, with it being a rental property, there were a lot of practical considerations. “The cottage is dog-friendly – it has to be as we want to use it and Digger will be coming with us – so that’s been a consideration with some of the furniture,” says Emma. “But we’ve tried to buy great quality. That applies to furniture, mattresses, bedding, towels, appliances, crockery and glassware.”

Some of the furniture was bought new, some on Gumtree and Vinterior, an experience the couple enjoyed and say will no doubt influence how they shop for furniture in future. “We’ve tried to bring a little local influence in too, including photographs from a Teesdale photographer and some rather fun Yorkshire-inspired coasters,” says Emma.

They also provide their guests with Yorkshire Tea, of course, to be brewed in the traditional style kitchen with beautiful quarry tiled floor. An Aga sits beneath an inglenook fireplace and there’s a Belfast sink and feature tiles. The cosy sitting room, which looks out onto the cobbled street, is the perfect mix of contemporary and traditional, with elegant greys offering a backdrop to the cosy leather sofas. At its heart is a wood-burning stove.

As befits an old cottage, some of the floors are pretty uneven. “One piece of furniture in particular has had to be altered considerably to cater for this, so now it’s in the cottage forever,” laughs Emma.

Outside there’s a gem of a garden, West-facing, but quite a surprising suntrap. “The best bit is that it rises up on several levels,” enthuses Emma. “The top of the garden is higher than the cottage roof and up against Richmond Castle wall, giving you an amazing view up the River Swale, particularly lovely as the sun sets. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a drink any evening, any time of the year.”

The couple are very happy with the results of their makeover and have already had many lovely comments from guests, praising the atmosphere, and the comfort and asking what paint colours they have used.

Eventually, Emma and Mark do envisage living here themselves, second time around. “It’s an amazing town centre location and we particularly love that you can walk to The Station cinema, or the restaurants and pubs.”

One thing Emma has learned about the history of the property is that JMW Turner painted this aspect of Richmond Castle after the cottage and its neighbour were built – but chose to not put the cottages in the painting. He might be a little more impressed by Castle & Cobbles in particular if he brush to canvas again now.

Castle & Cobbles sleeps six. It is available to rent through Gorgeous Cottages. W: gorgeouscottages.com

• W: emmahignett.com

• Niche Living, Newgate, Barnard Castle, DL12 8BH.

W: niche-living.co.uk