The owner, a marketing assistant, bought this one-bedroom Victorian flat in Surrey in 2013. The property was originally the site of a hospital, but was transformed into a residential area around 20 years ago.
Fortunately the building had been well maintained over the years, so no major structural work was needed. The owner fell in love with the flat’s high ceilings and beautiful period details. ‘I knew it was exactly what I was looking for,’ she says. ‘It was in the perfect location, which has good links to London and the countryside and it’s an area with a lovely family-friendly feel.’
But the flat was a typical bachelor pad and the decor wasn’t to her taste so she got to work using crafty upcycling, pretty styling and colour shots to bring bags of personality to her home.
‘I am lucky enough to live in one of the original buildings and I often look out of the window and think back to what it must have been like and how the space has changed over time. It’s amazing to live somewhere with such an interesting history. It really feels like home.’
The hall has been kept plain and simple with neutral flooring and white walls. A black bamboo ladder adds interest, but it is the telephone table that catches the eye. It is an upcycled piece that the owner bought from a charity shop for £30. She has repainted it deep blue, reupholstered with a smart spot fabric and added a zebra drawer knob to finish. ‘It’s so satisfying to give something a new look,’ she says.
Chiltern Oak Furniture
The living room is a careful balance of greys against neutral walls. ‘I love the industrial look,’ says the owner, ‘and have incoroporated hints of this into the living room with charcoal grey and metal pieces, such as the pendant lights. However these colours can be a bit oppressive so I added pops of red to make the space feel warm.’
The dining area is part of the central living space. The yellow table is a nice fit with the pale lemon walls and floral curtains, while rush seats give the space a country edge. The owner likes to dress the table informally when it’s not being used and a jug of fresh flowers is a nice touch. This space functions as a dining area, lounge and study all in one, without feeling cramped or cluttered.
In a smaller space, where patterned walls might be overwhelming, think about using decorative stickers instead to add interest. There are lots of designs around and they are easy to remove when you want to redecorate. This grandfather clock design is perfectly placed between window and dining table. ‘It was easy to hang once you’ve lined up all the piece and it always gets guests talking. I love it when people ask where I got things from.’
The original kitchen was installed around 20 years ago and when the owner first moved in the tiles looked dated, the cupboards were drab and the walls were bright yellow. Her budget didn’t stretch to a brand new kitchen so instead she turned it into a retro chic space by embracing some of its properties. ‘I started off by giving the walls a lick of white paint. Straight away it allowed me to see the room in a whole new light. The cupboards looked much brighter and I realised that the pale grey tiles were a great shade to work with. I introduced striking teal accessories to add warmth to the scheme.’
In a plain kitchen, pep up a spot of free wall space with a little colour and display shelving. The owner has turned an unremarkable unit into a bright and cheerful accessory for her wall and made the perfect catch-all for some favourite accessories. Teal is the owner’s accent colour of choice and the shelf unit is the perfect match to the kitchen linens, small appliances and accessories. ‘The vibrant blue makes me smile,’ says the owner.
Similar plain wall unit
Not on the High Street
If you are unable – or don’t want – to rip out an old kitchen and start from scratch, there are other ways of turning your cooking and food prep space into your own. Choose storage and accessories that bring a sense of style to a plain room, such as these pretty lidded jars and recipe book stand. ‘As I didn’t re-do the body of the kitchen,’ says the owner, ‘I chose accessories that I love to make it feel like my own.’
Similar book stand
The owner has added personality through fabrics and a bold blue feature wall. The wall hanging features a fluid paisley design that is complemented by the duvet cover and pillowcase design. A fuchsia pink throw and cushion add the accent shade. ‘Simple wooden furniture allows me to play with bright fabrics and bold colours in the bedroom,’ says the owner.
The bathroom had been fitted out only three years earlier so didn’t need to be updated. ‘It’s a lovely neutral palette,’ says the owner, ‘with beige tiles and off-white walls, which gave me the opportunity to create interest with soft furnishings. I went for punchy aubergine towels, shabby chic details and added a slightly luxurious edge with a few gold accents here and there.’