‘I grew up in Cornwall, but I’m originally from Norfolk,’ says the owner of this stunning white factory apartment. ‘Although I loved living on the southwest coast with my family, I found it lonely in winter when the place gets quieter, so I moved back to this area four years ago. I settled in Norwich because I know it quite well and it’s also a great place to live and work. It’s small and lively, but it has everything you could want from a city, including lots of independent shops, plus the people are really friendly.’
The building the owner lives in used to be a factory and was converted into flats about nine years ago. ‘At first I rented a flat here and I loved it, because of its industrial design and sense of history. It’s only a short walk to the city centre, and we have lots of local shops and the river nearby.’
The owner was keen to buy within the building, so she let her neighbours know that she was interested in properties on any floor. ‘It wasn’t long before I heard that a woman on the top floor wanted to sell up,’ she says. ‘When I came to view it and walked into the open-plan kitchen-sitting room, I was blown away by how much light was flooding in through the windows that run along an entire wall. I decided then and there that I would buy it. Luckily, I liked the rest of the property too.’
The three-bedroom flat is spread over two floors at the top of a converted factory. When the owner bought it in 2014, the property had only a very basic kitchen, and the lighting was virtually non-existent. A few changes were needed, but the owner knew the space could be easily transformed into her perfect home.
‘This room had the wow factor for me,’ says the owner. ‘It’s big and bright, with wonderful views of the city skyline and the castle, which totally sold it to me.’ Even before she moved, the owner knew that the interior was going to be all-white. ‘It’s my favourite colour because it reminds me of holidays and Cornwall, with all that bright seaside light in summer,’ she says.
The first thing to be tackled was the kitchen. ‘I installed white cabinets in a C-shape arrangement, then added a matt white worktop and sink,’ says the owner. Deciding on the worktops wasn’t a straightforward process, though. ‘I thought about having granite, then concrete, but decided against using those materials, as not everyone likes them, which might put off future buyers.’
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Buy now: worktops, Corian
Vintage-style letters on the wall enhance the industrial-chic scheme. Separating the living area from the kitchen is the breakfast bar, which provides a handy spot for grabbing a morning coffee. ‘It’s also useful to perch at when I’m working from home,’ says the owner.
The kitchen has plenty of units for storage, which means the work surfaces can be left uncluttered, with only a few favourite pieces out on show. Handleless cabinets offer a sleek and minimalist appearance. ‘I wanted to accentuate the industrial look to suit the design and former use of the building, but with an elegant, aesthetic twist,’ says the owner.
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Buy now: kitchen units, Wren
The view of the cathedral and city was a big draw for the owner, who loves the big windows. Acccessories dot the window sill, making the space feel really homely and filling it with personality. ‘My metallic star light comes into its own after dark,’ says the owner.
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Buy now: similar star light, Maisons du Monde
‘I brought most of my furniture with me, so it was easy to plan the decor around it,’ says the owner. Eames-style chairs and a tulip table give the space a 1950s vibe. The artificial orchard makes a great centrepiece and is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
The office area blends in perfectly with the the rest of the decor. ‘As my accessories are mainly white, I use numerous plants, mostly artificial, to inject splashes of colour,’ says the owner. Mirrors have been carefully positioned to maximise the daylight coming into the room, while adding a decorative and feminine feel to the workspace.
The flat was poorly lit – there were no fittings in the sitting room or hall – so the owner had it rewired for ceiling lights. Now, two statement birdcage chandeliers give off a beautiful sparkle, even without being switched on. After sorting the lighting, the owner painted the pine floors with white chalk paint. ‘My dad helped, but it still took three weeks of hard graft because we were using hand brushes and sugar soap to create a distressed look,’ she says.
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Buy now: similar birdcage chandeliers, Homebase
The main bedroom is on the second floor of the apartment and has a huge skylight that makes the space feel lovely and bright. ‘It’s great for star-gazing while lying in bed at night,’ says the owner. ‘But it also has a downside: the seagulls can get rather noisy at the crack of dawn.’
The mirrored chests of drawers give the room an Art Deco feel. These ones double up as bedside tables, which maximises the amount of storage available, but keeps furniture to a minimum, so the room is uncluttered. Framed prints have been placed on top of the chests, rather than on the wall, for a relaxed feel that allows for easy updates.
The bathroom didn’t need upgrading. ‘All I did was change the taps and install better lighting,’ says the owner. ‘Then I fitted a wall-to-wall mirror to make the space look bigger.’ Large-format tiles with lots of veining add warmth to the white scheme. The whitewashed flooring found throughout the flat continues into the bathroom.
This house tour originally appeared in Style at Home, April 2017