In June 2017 my own home was featured in a five page spread in Style at Home Magazine. Being on the cover meant every time I walked past the newsstand I saw my mug shot (and office dog Vera!) right there on the shelf. A very surreal moment! Below is the full feature that I wrote to coincide with the photoshoot:
How many bedrooms do you have and when was your house built? When did you buy it/move in?
3 bedroom semi-detached house built in 1929. We purchased it in 2013 and moved in just before Christmas on 20th December!
What was the state of the house when you bought it? What features sold it to you? What scared you? Did lots of work need doing?
We searched for a period property for quite a while and when our house came on the market we were super excited only to find the previous owners had removed many original features and the decoration was akin to 1990. Most of the work that needed to be done to the house was aesthetic but the kitchen was particularly small, reminiscent of the time it was built, and this did put us off at first as it also needed to be replaced with drawers hanging off hinges and general lack of storage.
On the upside, the garden was a huge plus point being 140ft in length and the spacious size of the bedrooms helped to seal the deal. Luckily I could visualise what we needed to do to restore the stunning Art Deco features that the house so deserved.
What is the house like now? I.e. How would you describe it now? Light and airy, modern, stylish, cosy, a great entertaining space?
Now, I would say that the living space is light and airy with a vintage, mid-century edge and provides a great entertaining space for family and friends when they come over. Our living room is cosy as is our main bedroom but that is largely due to the rich colour scheme we have chosen for each room.
What major works, if any, did you have to carry out? How long did each part take? Did you use builders or do a lot yourself?
The biggest project that took place was the kitchen extension at the back of the house, it took 3 months from start to finish but the actual shell of the extension only took 3 weeks to build! We used a local builder who was recommended to us, we received various quotes which ranged hugely in budget but we chose the cheapest option due to the limited amount we had to work with. I opted to project manage the build myself, arranging for contractors to come in at different times and sourcing certain elements myself such as radiators and flooring but this was the only way we could work around it. It was actually a real accomplishment once complete and we are really pleased with the outcome.
We also renovated the rest of the house ourselves, painting and decorating, wallpapering with the odd bit of DIY here and there.
Were any problems thrown up along the way? How did you overcome these?
Yes there were a few, the first was that we have shared drains so we needed to get the water board out to see if the piping needed to be replaced as we were building over it. Luckily it was all OK but this could have set everything back.
Another being that the gas meter was where we wanted our Smeg fridge freezer to go in the kitchen. We were quoted nearly £1000 for it to be moved to an outside wall so I decided to re-arrange our kitchen plan so that a cupboard could be built around it instead so no extra money needed to be spent.
Where is your kitchen from and why did you choose it? How did you make the most of the space?
Our kitchen is from the Simply Hygena range in Homebase. My dream was to have a blue country-style kitchen so I searched everywhere and luckily for us it was one of the cheapest collections available. We did end up spending more on our worktops which are solid bamboo wood as we wanted to achieve a classic look and we felt that the worktops would suffer the most wear and tear. Bamboo is actually much more hard wearing than oak and cheaper too, plus it’s side profile adds a point of interest as the wood is layered. We love it!
I mapped out the plan of my kitchen myself as I adamant that I wanted an island, so this really was the basis of the design. I also didn’t want any top units to create an element of space so I decided on open shelving to create a focal point and extra storage for my favourite kitchenware.
What kind of style do you like and how did you work this into your decoration?
Traditional, in-keeping with the age of the house but with heaps of personality. A key element that I wanted to restore within the property were the original floorboards. One of the first things we did when we moved in was to rip up the cheap laminate flooring and much to our joy, expose the beautiful floorboards underneath. We decided to paint these white to give an illusion of space and it meant that we didn’t need to sand the floor down which is a hugely messy job. We also ripped out the 1990s gas heater to expose the beautiful open fireplace which is now fully functional and complete with a bargain £60 mantlepiece I found on eBay.
I wanted the decor to say something about us so there are various elements of both mine and my husbands personalities scattered throughout the house. From daring colour schemes, a purple velvet sofa, to travel posters in the dining room and a homage to Rock’n’Roll music in the downstairs WC.
Where did you get your inspiration from? Magazines, Pinterest, online, blogs etc.?
Mostly Pinterest, 1930s architectural books and of course Style at Home Magazine. I’m an avid fan as I like the fact that you can be inspired even on the smallest of budgets.
Do you have any interesting/vintage/inherited items that you’re particularly fond of? Did you go to any antiques fairs/car boot sales when decorating?
Yes, quite a few. One of our favourites is our metal trunk that we use to sit on round the table, it’s over 100 years old and was given to us from Will’s great aunt. We also love our original 1960s record player that we purchased for just £40 from a vintage fair in Bournemouth. The dresser in our dining room is made out of the original floorboards from the Alton Towers Ballroom and I purchased this on eBay for £60. Our Fortnum&Mason wicker hamper which is currently used as our printer storage, was the daddy of all bargains at just £1 from a reclamation yard.
Did you do any special DIY bits that you’re particularly fond of?
Installing the fire surround in the lounge. Wallpapering in the bathroom and downstairs WC – something that people often underestimate, especially cutting into windows. Repairing and re-painting all of the floorboards and relaying a makeshift patio when we ran out of money after the build!
What would be your one tip to give to our readers about decorating/renovating/designing a space?
Go with your gut instinct and let your creative juices flow! Don’t be put off in terms of a tight budget, there’s always a work around and definitely shop online at any given opportunity you can save thousands of pounds.