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