#designupnorth, Bathroom, Design, Home Decor, House Tour, kitchen design, Online Shopping
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My trip to Bert & May – From Salvage Yard to Show House #designupnorth

About 18 months ago, I introduced the hashtag #designupnorth to head up a series of posts focusing on good design being accessible north of the Watford gap.

As a blogger/designer I get invited to stuff all the time (which is lovely) but every frickin design event/launch/networking opp is always down south. In fact, brands barely even put the addresses on for these events anymore, it’s just assumed we all know they’re down in Landan and we’ll just pop down there for a canpé and a Prosecco or four. Needless to say, I have yet to frequent one of these said events, a) because I work full time, in Leeds b) they’re always at rubbish times like 8am or 6pm and c) because a return trip to Kings Cross aint cheap.


But… a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to an event…. wait for it…. in North Yorkshire! 30 mins drive away from Making Spaces HQ. Yes, yes! We have a Bert & May, UP NORTH. Not in London. Well, yes in London too, but we have a Yorkshire based Bert and May. Look. I went last week. It’s here:

Yorkshire clouds in a Yorkshire blue sky

Don’t know who Bert & May are? Here’s a quick intro.

  • The business began life in Spain as a reclaimed tile company founded by Lee Thornley, a former barrister who moved from London in 2004.

  • Thornley recognised the demand for architectural salvage from interior architects and designers, from here a new project was born.

  • In 2010, Thornley met Juan Menacho, owner of a small, artisan family business making encaustic tiles using traditional handmade techniques. The pair decided the future lay in making their own vintage-inspired designs.

  • Rebranded and officially launched as Bert & May in September 2013, the company has since gone on to produce an extensive collection of distinctive graphic and geometric tiles, as well as engineered wood, made in Yorkshire.

  • In 2016, Bert & May began collaborating with designers and architects to create bespoke kitchens and bathrooms. 

  • Glazed tiles, made in Stoke-on-Trent (my birth place), still using only natural pigments, are now available, as well as a new range of interiors paints.

And here they are in 2017. A new showroom in North Yorkshire, about half an hour’s drive from Leeds, York and Harrogate. Lucky me.

Unfortunately, the launch event I was invited to, was the same week my hubby was away cycling around in Majorca. So “life” meant, I couldn’t make. Bah! But Bert and May very kindly offered me a solo tour later that week. First to the salvage yard and then off to the show house.

My absolute favourites (above and below)

They’ve got tiles. They’ve got a lot of tiles. They’ve got a lot of tiles I really really like.

After a quick loo break, I was whisked off to the show house, a short drive away through the north Yorkshire lanes.

Do come in.

I could have sworn this house was Georgian on first appearance (the arched windows & overall symmetry,) and I was so very nearly right, but alas, being born around 1840 it falls into the Victorian era. I was out by 10 years. Still felt Georgian to me though.

Tiled hearth in the front room

This is in fact, where, Lee Thornley, the founder of Bert & May lives. So it’s not just a show home, it’s a real home. Lee has used Bert and May products beautifully throughout his house giving them some context away from the yard.

Unfinished ceiling anyone? House Doctor ceiling light? Yes, and yes please.

So, Lee does actually live here, but there were samples everywhere that had been left out from a launch event I wasn’t able to make earlier that week.

Polished brass bathroom fittings

Bert and May paint, tiles, tea towels, kitchen worktop….

The concrete worktop was all kinds of tactile

Colour chips

Reclaimed wood panels – big fan of these

Into the dining room, more samples galore

Glazed tiles

Are your eyes going funny looking at the wall hanging?

Look at those blues!

So much to take in. Time to take a look upstairs.

And looking back down again

My dream curtains

I have been looking for some curtains for my own living room since we moved here nearly five years ago. I absolutely HATE looking for curtains. They’re too complicated, fussy and always expensive. Well Bert and May’s curtains are only one of these things. Time to get saving.

Upholstered headboard

All of their fabrics are a blend of linen and cotton, manufactured in the UK and handprinted up in Glasgow.

Blanket and paints also by Bert and May

The ensuite

Concrete tiles, sunken bath and brass shower head and valve

The bathroom has limited head height and lacked space for both a bath and shower, so they’ve sunken the bath into the floor and plumbed a shower over the bath. Genius.

I checked what was below to see how this had affected the layout downstairs. The bath was over a cupboard. Whether the cupboard came as a result of the bathroom, i’m not sure. Either way, it’s an excellent use of space, improved further by the different shades of grey encaustic tile used throughout.

Basin colour samples

Brass wall mounted tap – beauty

So that was my Bert and May experience. How much stuff are you coveting right now, eh? If you’re a Yorkshire-ite, i’d highly recommend a trip to check out their products. I’m really hoping to use some of their tiles in a project i’ve not written about just yet… **crosses fingers and checks budget spreadsheet**


Have a good week y’all.


  1. Thanks for this, I’ve been looking for a local stockist of reclaimed wood wall cladding recently, so I hope they have it in at the Yorkshire site.

    Wow, just seen their kitchens on the website. Think I may need to look away – I can see myself getting carried away if I’m not careful…

    • Karen Knox says

      Yeah I know. It’s all gorgeous. Definitely give them a ring beforehand about the wood panels. They had them to look at, but not sure if they had them on site to buy… Good luck!

      • ok cool, cheers Karen.
        I strongly suspect I’ll be visiting even if they don’t have the cladding!

  2. Pleased to find Yorkshire on the design map with Bert & May. I will be making the trip from Huddersfield, thank you for the heads up. Wish I hadn’t already tiled my kitchen now.

  3. Hannah Trickett says

    Oh these tiles are all so nice, great that there’s a Bert and May up north! I’ll have to tell my friends. AND that basin! swoon!

  4. Ooh I would love to go to their salvation yard with all those tiles! Looks like a lovely, inspiring place to visit x

  5. Gina Anderson says

    Karen, thank you for helping raise awareness of Yorkshire on the design map 🙂
    from a fellow interiors obsessed Leeds-dweller!

  6. …wait, there must be a surface here somewhere that isn’t wallpapered! Surely just one where I can use those lush tiles! Wow!

    Also, I’ve gotta say, even in Hampshire I find the trip into London a bit of a drag sometimes. And I’m actually a product of Yorkshire myself, so happy to discover another wonderful reason to visit the area.

    • Karen Knox says

      Ha, I know the tiles are pretty special aren’t they? Didn’t know you were a Yorkshire lass too. Well I never!

  7. Seán O'Connell says

    You’re totally right about the press shows always being down in London. Mind you, having worked on a London-based interiors magazine for 15 years, you should hear the fuss from journalists if a press show is more than 5 miles outside the capital. Uproar! UNLESS it’s an all-expenses trip to Bavaria, taking in Oktoberfest (still got the hangover to prove it!) or an all-you-can-eat visit to a Belgian chocolate factory (no fighting in the queue, girls…).
    So it’s amazing to see Bert & May having a base up in the God-forsaken backwater known as Yorkshire – hey I can say that, I’m from Brighouse! Never knew they did such a range of stuff. Also, now need to know – who’s Bert and who’s May?

  8. This is brilliant I have felt exactly the same about everything being south focused. This has made me feel tons better thinking the North had so much to offer in design ????

    • Karen Knox says

      Oh we so do. We just don’t have the events to showcase it. And when we do, it doesn’t get the coverage the same event in London would. Does my head in!

  9. Julie says

    Hi Karen

    I’ve just made a visit to Bert & May to discuss kitchen design. I’m a bit anxious as it’s going to be a big investment so have looked on website to find others experience/recommendations or not about buying from Bert & May.

    It seems that they have a problem with stocks of tiles but I can’t find anything about buying kitchens. Lots of lovely photos but no reviews.

    Do you have any reviews or know of anyone who has bought a kitchen from them?

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