Be inspired by this Edwardian semi in Essex, brought to life with pops of colour

This homeowner’s property woes were solved by a workmate, who had heard that she was desperate to move

kitchen with white wall and wooden table
(Image credit: David Giles)

'When my partner and I first moved in together 
we lived in his flat 
in Sudbury, Suffolk,’ says the owner of this Edwardian semi. ‘But we really wanted a house with a garden and hoped we’d have a child someday, so we started 
to look for a new home in nearby Cambridge.' The couple found the area so pricey that 
they could only afford a one-bedroom 
flat, so they ended up having had to think again.

There are plenty of properties for you to explore – just check out our real homes.

The owner was teaching graphic design in Colchester at the time, and so the couple began looking around that area, and found 
they could afford a house there more 
easily. 'We were focusing on a particular part of Colchester which is known for having plenty of period properties with nice details, but after we lost some lovely properties that we’d set our hearts on, 
we were at the end of our tether,' the owner says.

At the time, she worked with fellow lecturer who is a well-known designer. One day in spring 2013 the couple were dejectedly driving around the streets they wanted to live in, when her colleague spotted them and flagged down 
their car.

'She said she’d heard we were looking for a house in the area, and asked if we’d like to buy hers! She was itching to move to a bigger one round the corner, but hadn’t yet sold her own,' the owner says. 'We thought we had nothing to lose 
and got out to look.' The house was exactly what they wanted: a good size, with a loft conversion, but in need of renovation.


house with brick wall and white window

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

When the owner bought this Edwardian four- bedroom semi, in Colchester, Essex the decor was a bit tired and ready for some attention, plus the garden was in 
a bit of a state after years of two footballing boys giving it hell. 'The previous owner’s a friend, so she won’t mind me saying that!,' the owner says.

She and her husband and renovated all of the rooms, re-tiled the kitchen and bathroom, got the garden up to scratch and built a garden studio.

Kitchen diner

kitchen with white wall and wooden table

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

'The basic kitchen was fine, but we wanted to put our own stamp on it, so 
we re-tiled the walls, got some new appliances and bought a solid wooden table and bench for entertaining,' says the owner.

Get the look
Buy now: Bethan Gray Newman 6-8 Seater Extending Dining Table, £999, John Lewis & Partners
Buy now: 
Muuto Unfold Pendant Lights, £155 each, Simply Living

room with brick wall and books

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

If you’re using a strong colour like orange, less can be more – add it in tiny bursts, as the owners have done with their kitchen lights. 'We're very into design – 
we both trained in graphics – but we 
have slightly different kinds of ideas, so 
it has been a case of finding a way of marrying our varied tastes.

'One thing 
we agree on is being passionate about original artwork and encouraging new artists, and we both love funky artworks with words or letters on them.'

The owner posts her art finds on Instagram @theposygirl, as well as lots of her own design ideas.

Living room

living room white white wall and couch

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

'I tend to be slightly more classic and subtle in my use of colours, while my partner loves bright, vibrant hues, particularly orange. What we end up with is usually 
a neutral background, with pops of colour, which suits us both.'

Get the look
Buy now: Walls in Farrow & Ball Ammonite Estate emulsion, £45 for 2.5ltrs, Homebase


bedroom with wooden bed and white wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

As the bedrooms aren't huge, the owners have kept to a palette of off white and pale wood. But they've introduced personality in their own way. 'Starting with plain white bedding from John Lewis, I like to layer things up with cushions and throws, like the quilt and this knitted throw from Soho Home.'

Get the look
Buy now: Dundas Throw, Pebble, £115, Soho Home


bathroom with white wall and bathtub

(Image credit: David Giles)

'It was tough to decide on the bathroom – we couldn’t find any tiles that inspired us. Then we spotted some we loved in a hotel we were staying at one weekend. They were blue and white patterned tiles, coupled with wood-effect ones – we loved the look so we copied it.

Looking to redecorate your washroom? Our bathroom ideas might kick-start your project

There's just one room left for the couple to make their mark on – and that's in the loft. 'But in the end our son, Jude, arrived before we could get around to finishing it. Eventually, we might move up there and put in an en suite, as there’s plenty of space for one, but at the moment we’re happy with our bedroom being on the same floor as his nursery.'

'For now, with the rest of the house finished, we’re just enjoying our new home as it is – it feels so right for us all.’

Heather Young

Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.