The owner of this lovely property in Buckinghamshire is the area manager and buyer for a local hospice and its charity shops. She bought her home in 2006 and moved in with her three children. ‘The location was ideal,’ she says, ‘as it was within walking distance of the school.’
When she first moved in, the house felt homely. ‘It had been home to the previous family for 20 years. In fact the loft still had the children’s drawings pinned to the wall and, nine years on, I still don’t have the heart to take them down!’
Although the decor was a little tired, the bathrooms dated and the five bedrooms slightly small, the property provided the flexible living space that the family needed.
Among the first works to be carried out were removing a chimney breast and linen cupboard from the smallest bedroom in order to get a bed into it, adding a new bathroom and en-suite and removing a downstairs shower and replacing it with a utility-cum-cloakroom.
Once the essential building work was complete every room was painted neutral with the same beige carpet laid throughout, creating a sense of continuity and helping the smaller rooms feel more spacious. 'It allows me to add my favourite colours through accessories,' says the owner, 'and easily update the decor or make changes if I fancy a new look from time to time.'
Even the tiniest of spaces can be useable. Here the owner has combined a red velvet tub chair and card table to create a pretty resting spot. Handbag storage makes for an eye-catching display, while a pretty potted plant and table lamp add decorative touches to the under-stairs space.
The owner has combined traditional and modern elements in her light and welcoming living room. A vintage-style stove makes a full-on feature of the chimney breast, while the hits of lime green on the pretty blind, cushions and throws are a perfect contrast to the neutral painted walls. 'The living room feels warm and cosy with the woodburner and our rustic furniture,' says the owner.
At the other end of the living room, a traditional upright piano and winged armchair add a cosy feel. The hi-gloss finish on the piano and the mirror above help to keep the corner bright and full of interest. 'We spend most of our time in here,' says the owner. 'The apricot and mustard scheme was inspired by the antique fruit prints.'
The owner has used a smart mix of cream hi-gloss units with blue and green accents. Between the units and the bi-fold doors a table and chairs have been added, creating an open-plan light-filled cooking and entertaining space. The work was part of a large kitchen extension project that the owner undertook in 2015. 'The curved corners on the units help soften the space and add an interesting design feature, and the quartz worktop is a real treat.'
A run of bi-fold doors in the dining area adjacent to the kitchen opens out on to the pretty garden beyond. 'I'd always imagined having a large sociable kitchen-diner and knocking through to the garage next door,' says the owner. 'It was full of junk anyway and gave me the space I'd dreamed of.'
Table and lampshade
The owner has painted one wall in the kitchen-diner in lime green for a touch of instant freshness. It is a shade that works particularly well in a room that is adjacent to the garden and alongside the shots of blue on chairs, dresser and accessories. The mini Venetian blind in the window is a nice touch.
Adding pretty floral wallpaper to an office nook is a great way to cut through clutter and create a bright, uplifting look in a small space. Making a feature out of compact areas helps lend a purpose to the space and give it character. 'This is such a pretty spot,' says the owner. 'I love how everything is within easy reach on the shelves above.'
The owner has turned down the vibrancy in the rooms upstairs to create calming areas that are welcoming and relaxing. 'I wanted a restful feel in my bedroom,' says the owner, 'so I stuck to duck-egg blues, taupes and off-whites. It feels elegant and graceful.' A large bedspread like this one means never having to worry about mismatching duvet sets.
In the bathroom the owner has created a balanced mix of whites and neutrals with hints of pale blues and greens for added interest. Storage is organised and streamlined, making this compact space feel larger than it really is. 'By adding fitted units under the window there was enough space for a P-shaped bath.'