This house in Frome has been transformed with colour and surprise bursts of pattern all over the house

Home provides the perfect colourful canvas for this Somerset-based illustrator’s bold work

blue living rom with bay window
(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

After finding the perfect location to set up shop in a picturesque part of Somerset, finding a home close by made perfect sense for illustrator Mary Kilvert.

‘Ten years ago, my husband and I decided to up sticks and move from South West London. We wanted to find a base for the business and a new home – and as soon as we visited Frome we knew it was where we wanted to be based.’ 

‘It’s an independent market town with lots going on, surrounded by beautiful countryside. On the day we visited, I saw a “For Sale” sign in the window of a shop and I knew I wanted it to be my shop,’ says Mary. ‘We knew it would make a great place to have a young family and so the next step was finding a house. We were after somewhere with period features, a garden and that was close to town – luckily we didn’t have to search for long, and found a place we could renovate pretty quickly.’

Dark blue living room

blue living room with fireplace and shelves

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘Built around 1902, the house was originally a two-bedroom property, which the previous owner had lived in for 25 years. Although it had been looked after, it was dated, with woodchip wallpaper, old carpets and plaster on the walls. Despite that, we could see its potential and knew we’d be able to convert the loft further down the line – it was perfect for us.’

‘Before moving in, we replastered the whole house and replaced the carpets in some rooms and sanded floorboards in the living room and other rooms. It took around two months, but it was worth it.’

Built-in shelving

blue living room with alcove shelves

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘The fireplace works with the period of the property and creates a focal point for the room – I spent a year finding tiles that feel sympathetic to the house and add interest. We had the bespoke shelving next to it made especially.’

‘We’ve acquired artwork from both our artistic families. Our parents had galleries, so we collected artwork from them. I sell the butterfly wall decorations in my shop and you can buy them on my website Mary Kilvert.’

Plush velvet sofa

blue living room with blue velvet sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘In the living room I went bold, painting the walls in Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue. It’s my favourite room and a great place to cosy up with a book and hot chocolate in the evenings. Instead of getting a new sofa, I got our existing one reupholstered so it would fit in with our colour scheme.’

‘I think it’s good not to be afraid of colour as it can be transformative. When I’m choosing colours, instead of painting little squares on the walls I like to paint big boards and carry them around the house – it’s a great way of seeing how a colour can work within a room and how the light affects it at different times of the day.’

Colour kitchen-diner

dining room with wooden table and painted chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘Changing the layout slightly was something we were keen to do, as the house had a kitchen with an old boiler and utility room, which blocked access to the outside space. We got the builders in and had an extension to remove the utility room and turn the space into a kitchen-diner that leads out to the garden.’ 

‘We inherited our Ercol dining chairs from family and then bought some other chairs secondhand, which we painted. We got a carpenter in to build cupboards under our stairs, which has been useful for storage – they’re wallpapered with a design from Borestapeter.'

Sleek galley kitchen

white kitchen with table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘In the kitchen, we went for a modern, simple feel with handleless cupboards and a mint-coloured Smeg fridge-freezer which was a bargain from eBay. We did end up having to redo the floor in the kitchen as we weren’t happy with the colour of the stain we’d chosen. It was worth redoing though to get the finish we wanted.’

‘It’s such a nice light space now and the extension helped connect the outdoors with in. Our patio area feels like an extra room and it’s a great place to sit with family and friends in summer months.’

Chic kitchen shelves

wooden kitchen shelf with green tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘My best buy was the encaustic tiles that we used for the splashback underneath the kitchen shelving – they’re from Claybrook Studio and I love the colour and pattern.’

‘I sell lots of kitchenware on my online shop, including tea towels such as the one hanging on the cooker.’

Stylish studio space

home studio with desk and chair and pinboard

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘Next up was the loft conversion, which took around two months to complete, but was essential to create some much-needed space for us due to our growing family. I use the loft room as a studio and it’s a lovely calm room to retreat to.’

‘This space was probably the biggest challenge because we had a little toddler and another baby on the way, so we moved out of the house while the work was being done.’

Modern furniture

white room with grey armchair and basket

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘I like modern, contemporary style with period features and was keen to bring this, together with a mix of colour and pattern, to our home. I take ideas from interior magazines, books, and even museums, cafes, exhibitions or places on holiday.’

‘The chair is from a Scandinavian company, and I got the wall hanging from an online shop.’

Fun feature staircase

grey painted staircase with wallpapered risers

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘We painted the staircase in Farrow & Ball’s Oval Room Blue and used wallpaper to line the risers. It brings personality to the space.'

Soothing green bedroom

bedroom with green half painted wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘As an illustrator, many of the designs I’m working on are featured around our home, like prints, textiles and ceramics, and our children are always drawing and making things, so their creations are often on display too!’

‘Items from my shop sometimes end up in our home, too, and I love collecting textiles, ornaments and paintings and seeing how they come together to bring personality to a space. I use nature and animals as inspiration when I’m designing and these often feature in our home.’

Painted feature wall

bedroom with half painted green wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘I like the calming feel in our bedroom with the colours and the views. We painted the wall behind the bed in Teresas Green, and the floor paint is Oval Room Blue by Farrow & Ball. Our bed is from Ercol and I sell the sheepskin rug in my shop.’

Colour-happy kids' room

childrens room with bunk beds

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘In the children’s bedroom we painted an Ikea bunk bed and got a carpenter to build a drawer to go underneath it for storage. We wallpapered the wall in a design from Borestapeter and then decorated and mounted a doll’s house on the wall so the children could play with it easily.’

Bright bathroom

bathroom with green and white tiles and shower

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘The last room to update was the bathroom, which we completed during lockdown and as soon as we finished it felt like the whole house came together.’

‘The bathroom tiles are from Mandarin Stone we love the pattern and how it works with the colour of the floor’

Statement bath

white bathroom with freestanding bath

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

‘We love the big freestanding bath in here – the kids love splashing around in it. The wall shelf is from La Redoute.'

‘It’s good to live in your home for a bit before making any big decisions about what you want to do with it. Our next job is to pay some attention to the garden and get it ready for spring. We’re so pleased with how the house came together, it reflects us as a family and we put new life back into it.’

Get the look

Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at 

With contributions from