Ideal Home’s former decorating editor Nicky Aldridge (née Phillips) lives in a four-bedroom semi-detached late-Victorian townhouse in Redhill, Surrey. She lives with her husband Jason, their 19-year-old daughter and 17-year-old twin sons plus dogs Olive and Wallace.
Nicky and Jason moved here more than six years ago with their daughter and sons and are still filling their home with their own style whilst juggling busy family life. Let's take a closer look at their stunning home, which is packed full of decorating ideas and inspiration.
'Our former house was only four miles away. We needed more space and wanted a garden as the children were growing up,' Nicky says. 'When we first moved in, the house had bright orange wallpaper and turquoise curtains. There was no bathtub, which we needed for the children, so we removed a chimney breast to create a better sized family bathroom. Other than that, no major structural work was required – just a huge redecoration!'
'We had builders who did up several bedrooms, the bathrooms and the kitchen at the same time. It was great to blitz it all at once, but it meant that everything was out of action for six months. We had a microwave and a washing-up bucket in the living room, and we showered at a nearby leisure centre!'
The renovation period definitely came with fresh challenges for Nicky and Jason. 'We did as much of the manual preparation as we could, and I tiled the utility room and decorated the downstairs loo. There were so many decisions to be made and lots of 2am nights; I would come home from a day at work and still have to choose paint colour schemes so the builders could carry on the next morning.'
But for Nicky there were a lot of positives to take from this time too. 'It was surprisingly liberating to live so simply – we only had five plates, five bowls and cutlery; everything else was packed away. I’m the kind of person who likes everything to be very organised and in the correct place, but during the work I didn’t have that choice. And it’s so rewarding and satisfying when you can finally sort the cupboards and style your space.'
Choosing a look
'In my line of work, rooms are often styled according to current interiors trends and I get to decorate room sets with a free rein. For instance, I can use the most expensive vase for a photo shoot or paint a wall in bold emerald green because I know it is just temporary for the magazine feature,' Nicky explains.
'However, in my own home, I have to think long-term. I always try to restrain myself from doing anything too on-trend and to find a timeless style. Overall, I chose quite classic designs, such as the off-white Shaker kitchen and the marble bathroom, that will last for years.'
The living room
‘I love the fact that we painted the living/dining room windows in a deep shade of grey,' Nicky says. 'The back windows face out onto woodland and as soon as we painted the frames dark, that greenery entered the room.’
There was a focus on repurposing furniture that was already in the family when creating the living room's timeless aesthetic. 'You can create a new décor scheme without saying ‘out with the old’. Just because something used to be a bedside table doesn’t mean it can’t become a side table in the living room.'
During the festive period, Nicky creates a magical Christmas atmosphere in the living room with budget-friendly decorating ideas. Paper decorations for example are an affordable and simple addition to ceilings, light fittings and curtain poles. And natural foliage foraged from the garden provides an authentic festive touch.
'For Christmas decorations I use mostly foliage from our garden – holly, olive and ivy – with pine cones, wood and paper ornaments and little pops of gold to make it all sparkle.'
‘Our kitchen and breakfast room are on the lower ground floor, so we tend to keep this dining room on the first floor for special occasions. At Christmas, it’s relaxing to be away from the mayhem of the kitchen.’
Nicky's Christmas table decoration ideas are fun and festive, but classy. Spiral candles for example add elegance to a dinner party at any time of year, but especially at Christmas.
When asked about the kitchen, Nicky calls it the hub of the home, 'where life really happens'. With that in mind, it was important that they used the kitchen layout wisely, so it would work for all the family.
‘The kitchen isn’t full-height, so we opted for off-white to feel more spacious and airy. The cupboards go up to the ceiling so there aren’t any hard-to- reach surfaces that attract dirt.’
Nicky uses practical elements, like this handy chalkboard, as part of the rustic kitchen aesthetic. 'An area of wall with chalkboard paint means I can jot down reminders or make a shopping list. The kids often doodle on it too, while avoiding chores!'
The breakfast area is all about making the most of the natural light. 'I love the light that rattan shades cast,' Nicky says. 'They don’t throw out a block of light; they make a beautiful pattern and because the light filters through the shade, they provide a subtle, relaxing glow.’
Taupe, cream and pale greys combine to create a relaxing feel in the bathroom, with marble tiles bringing subtle pattern to the scheme.
In all the rooms, Nicky emphasises the importance of creating your own unique look with what you already have. The mirror in the bathroom for example hung over the fireplace in the Aldridges’ previous home. 'This house has such large dimensions that the mirror would have seemed tiny above the fireplace here.'
Boho bedroom ideas come together in an eclectic mix in the master bedroom. Nicky is drawn to pastels, neutrals and muted tones and lots of soft textures to create a relaxing, timeless style.
‘I like to mix different styles – modern, vintage, Shaker, Moorish,' Nicky says. 'This room has a painted Louis XIV headboard, bone inlay bedside tables and a modern rattan light. For me the styles work together.’
Mixing styles is essential for reusing favourite pieces. This makes it easier if you’re bringing anything from another house, if you have heirloom pieces or if you want to buy something new.
This chest of drawers ties in with the antique French aesthetic of the room. Beautifully styled with natural elements in muted tones, it creates a pleasing focal point in the recessed space.
‘My daughter designed her own room. She didn't want it to be too “girly”, so we chose a muddy shade of pink for an accent wall in place of a headboard.’
This bedroom is proof that pink bedroom ideas can be calm and peaceful, as well as vibrant and punchy. They retained elements of the Victorian period property through the light fixture on the wall, which is hung over the original 1890s gas lamp fitting.
The chest of drawers in this room actually used to be in the living room. It was repainted in a deep smoky blue to complement the colour palette of the scheme.
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Nicky Phillips was the Style Editor of Ideal Home from 2010-2022. Nicky is an interiors journalist and stylist who has worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines for over 25 years. A stint as Associate Editor on Ideal Home in 2000 led to her becoming Deputy Editor of Livingetc in 2002, eventually leaving to have her three children and to start her interior design business @Stylingatnumber42, before returning to Ideal Home as Style Editor in 2010. Nicky has styled and art directed over 300 shoots for Ideal Home magazine to date.
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