With two young children, the owners were running out of space in their old two-bedroom bungalow. So in 2008, they started house hunting. They’d hoped to find somewhere with a garden and the potential to extend, so they could have a family home to grow old in.
The owners looked at quite a few options, but fell in love with this place on the spot. It’s in a lovely, quiet position, close to the beach. The price was right and, importantly, there was plenty of room to build an extension. On the down side, the house had been empty for about two years and needed a huge amount of work. It was so damp and musty, there was ivy growing inside! It had a very basic kitchen, a tiny living room and a tatty bathroom downstairs, three bedrooms upstairs and garish colours and loud wallpapers everywhere. But despite its faults, the couple decided to put in an offer.
They started work on the house the day they got the keys. As they’d sold their bungalow and as the property wasn’t really habitable, they moved into a caravan nearby. They’d never tackled anything like this before, but planned to learn on the job and do as much as possible themselves.
The first task was knocking through the kitchen and small living room so they could turn it into a practical kitchen-diner. Upstairs, a new bathroom was installed and the bedrooms redecorated. A two-storey extension that includes a new living room and a large bedroom above it was another big part of the project. After running into problems with their builder, they decided to do most of the extension work themselves in the evenings and at weekends. It was hard graft, but four months later, they were finally ready to move in.
‘We knocked two rooms into one to make the kitchen-diner and now we use this part of the house all the time,’ say the owners. The look is a mix of modern country, with shabby chic and elements of French and Scandi style that all work really well together. ‘We like things to have a lived-in style and feel homely and friendly,’ they say.
The kitchen is a mixture of wooden and painted units, to reflect each of the couple’s preferences and tie them together. An all-wood scheme can be quite heavy, while all white can be a bit cold, so it’s the ideal combination. Neutral walls work well with both styles of unit and provide a gentle backdrop that shows off the mismatched crockery in the glass-fronted cabinet.
‘The tiles behind the oven were a car-boot sale find – we bought a boxful for just £5,’ say the owners, who absolutely love searching for second-hand finds and have furnished their place by upcycling lots of bargain buys. This little nook embodies country style to a tee, with its tongue-and-groove panelling, cream-coloured range cooker and pastel-coloured accessories.
The hallway provides a continuation of the colour scheme used in the living room, with bright white walls and wood flooring, which makes for a lovely, light-feeling space. Not only that but it ensures that there’s a good sense of flow throughout the house. Even the stairs, with their cleverly painted-on ‘stair runner’, adhere to the white and pastel-coloured hues found elsewhere.
As dab hands at DIY, the owners painted and reupholstered this French bed to create exactly the look they wanted. They found it at a local antiques place and loved the curvy shape, but not the dark-wood frame or red velvet upholstery that it originally had. ‘It was a team effort with great results, and it has saved us a small fortune,’ they say.
The French Bedroom Company
Tongue-and-groove panelling gives any space a rustic, country feel and also helps to disguise walls that are less than perfect. Above the white panels, a fun pink shoe wallpaper gives the space suitably girlie appeal without being overly pink. The owners’ love of pretty wall hangings and upcycled furniture is also more than apparent in this beautiful scheme.
Feather & Black
This is the other end of the same bedroom and there’s certainly plenty of storage here, with a second cupboard. A pretty wallpaper has been stuck to the mesh panels on the wardrobe to hide all the clothes and objects that are stored behind it. The design fits perfectly with the colour scheme and, along with a coat of white paint, has completely transformed a traditional piece of furniture.
In this room, the floor has been treated with diluted white emulsion to show the wood grain. It’s a low-maintenance look that works very well in a child’s bedroom, as the odd scuff mark here and there just adds to the shabby-chic character of the space. The wigwam is a magical hideout for kids and has been given a comfortable feel with a gingham blanket and mismatched cushions.
The owners chose a traditional bath and placed it under the window for a hotel feel. There’s a blind for privacy if they feel they need it, but given its country location, they’re unlikely to be overlooked and can enjoy a beautiful view from the comfort of their tub. A second-hand shelving unit in bright aqua adds a water-inspired colour hit, as does the bunting.