Initially hoping to buy a house in Brighton, the owners soon discovered that prices were higher than they’d thought. Reluctantly, they looked a little further afield. ‘Searching along the coast, we were amazed at how much cheaper Hastings was,’ they say. ‘We viewed a Victorian semi there, and it was a horror show, with the kitchen sink hanging off the wall and stained walls. But it had six bedrooms, and we could see that there was the potential to create the lifestyle we wanted for ourselves and our two children, aged ten and seven.’
The couple bought the house and, after a year of being unable to cook in the dilapidated kitchen and making meals on a tabletop hob in the dining room, they called in builders to start the structural work. ‘Walls between the kitchen, sitting room and dining room came down,’ the couple recall. ‘It took six months in all.’
This house tour originally appeared in 25 Beautiful Homes, April 2017
The owners bought this gorgeous Victorian semi in 2008. Having previously lived in a large one-bedroom flat in Brighton, the property's size and structure were everything they had hoped for. However, the house needed a lot of work, both structurally and cosmetically, to turn it into a comfortable family home. 'In time, we'd like an en-suite bedroom in the attic,' say the couple. 'But with the rest of the place finished, all we want right now is to enjoy our beautiful home.'
After six months of building work, the owners were on a tight budget, so they opted for some cost-effective solutions to upgrading the interior. ‘We painted the floorboards instead of buying new flooring and chose blinds for the bay window to create an expensive shutter-style look at a fraction of the price,' they explain. 'We did all the work ourselves, including sanding the floors, painting and papering.'
When it comes to decor, the owners favour neutral tones, to set the stage for lively accessorising. Every room in the house includes furniture that has been handed down through the family. 'We've kept it all, except a painting of a great aunt that had to go because she looked so disapproving,' laugh the owners. 'But we've held onto the frame and will add a mirror to it one day.'
The ground floor has a very open feel, as the walls between the sitting room and dining room were knocked down as part of the refurbishment. The result is a beautifully light room. Throughout the property, it's the upholstery fabrics and wallpapers that give the house its unique look. 'Each room has a character all of its own,' say the owners.
In order to keep costs down, the couple went for fairly inexpensive cabinetry in the kitchen. A feature walls plays its role just as effectively in the kitchen as elsewhere in the house. The worktops pick out one of the colours in the wallpaper print, and their glossy finish stops everything from being too solid and opaque.
The tree mural in the dining area offers a relaxing backdrop for mealtimes. Rather than continuing the colour scheme between the kitchen and dining areas, the owners have chosen to make them boldly different. One space features pale colours, the other dark tones; one has a tightly woven geometric print and the other a loose, large-scale design. It's a great lesson in disobeying the decorating rulebook.
A metallic dark blue on the wall on the landing creates a sleek corridor with the feel of an art gallery or museum. Box frames have been used to display precious dresses from years gone by, while other artworks also enjoy the stylish backdrop. A geometric rug keeps the look contemporary.
The wallpaper from the kitchen makes another appearance upstairs. This time it's been used to decorate the unused fireplace, a cost-effective alternative to more expensive materials such as tiling. This isn't the only pattern here, though - a geometric floor rug provides another hit of print, giving the room a modern edge.
On the other side of the bedroom and cleverly used in place of a headboard is another eye-catching wallpaper that resembles an abstract painting. The colours and patterns on the bed have been carefully chosen so that they complement each other, rather than creating a confusing clash.
Get the look
Buy now: wallpaper and cushion fabrics, all Louise Body
Neutral walls allow for fun colour pops, such as the pink desk drawers. This room has clearly been designed for the owners' daughter to enjoy, but trademark upholstery and fabrics make an appearance all the same.
The decor here is versatile, blending in perfectly with the rest of the house, while enabling easy updates in future.