The owners’ three-bedroom Edwardian house in Nottingham is a masterclass in how to get the most from a property’s square footage – not surprising when one of the owners is an interior architect. ‘It doesn’t mean I instantly knew what to do with the space,’ she says. ‘I had lots of pieces of paper, with different combinations of rear and side extensions, new doorways and knocked-down walls, before I pinned down the layout that would work for us.’
As she knows, it helps to look at a property’s existing floor plan with fresh eyes, so that you can rethink the purpose of each room and be brave about moving things around. The result is a family home with just the right balance of flow and space, cosiness and comfort. The couple have reimagined every area, keeping what works from the original Edwardian structure and adding contemporary design ideas that bring it up to speed for 21st-century living. ‘The house was tired and, frankly, a little bit depressing,’ say the owners. ‘We like to think we’ve brought it back to life again for more generations to enjoy.’
This house tour originally appeared in Ideal Home, April 2017
The house is semi-detached and was built in 1910. The current owners bought it in 2014, knowing that the layout would need significant changes in order to make it work for them. The entrance was just one of the things that was altered. Before, it was tucked around the side of the house. 'We moved it to the front instead, removing an awkward addition to the living room to create a front door and a proper hallway,' the couple explain. The pair even lowered the bay window at the front of the house, to make the most of the garden views when inside.
At first, the owners painted everything white, but then they realised that the more colour they added, the more the house's character shone through. In the living room, a soft, neutral backdrop lets the original features stand out, while pops of bold pastels give the space a modern edge.
The owners added soft greys and warm cream, plus touches of stronger blues and yellows to the living room. 'We realised that this house needs shade and contrasts to make it sing,' they say. 'We love colours that are bright and upifting, and that feel fresh to live with.'
'Our kitchen, with its huge skylight, was previously a sludgy-green exterior courtyard, which we extended over,' explain the owners. Now, the pair have achieved a bright and light space with a great sense of flow. White units run all down one wall, providing lots of storage and a sleek feel, while ceramic 'faux flagstone' floor tiles offer all the rustic warmth of real stone, with none of the maintenance.
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A pretty bird wallpaper has been used as the splashback. In order to make it suitable for a demanding kitchen environment, the owners sealed it with three coats of polyurethane varnish. At the end of the room, a Shaker-style cupboard conceals twin fridge-freezers, keeping the room's overall look classic.
Small pieces, such as the bright blue artwork and distressed-finish barn stars make a big impact in this neutral space. Rather than hanging a framed print on each wall, the owners have chosen to mix it up with a travel poster and white stars, which provide a combination of retro and modern decoration.
Traditional panelling gives the hallway a grand feel. Painted in a soft-pastel grey shade that matches the walls, the panelling provides a decorative feature that's in keeping with the period of the house. For a great low-profile alternative to a console table or sideboard, the owners have chosen two side tables and pushed them together.
The owners have eschewed traditional or heritage patterns for simple, contemporary bird-print wallpaper, which brings a sense of lightness and movement to the main bedroom. Carefully chosen cushions pick out the colours and motifs in the pattern, tying the look together.
Citrus yellow gives the cool grey bedroom a lift. 'When we painted the house white, it looked boring,' say the owners. 'But too much colour didn't work either. Keeping to a restricted palette and picking hero shades for different rooms gave us just the right balance.'
This fun foxy wallpaper is great for a kid's room, but the subtle grey doesn't jar with the grown-up colour palette in the rest of the house. Hexagonal box shelves turn functional storage into a cool display that's almost like a 'house' for favourite toys.
The bathroom tucked under the eaves was formerly a too-small bedroom. In its new function as a bathroom, it's a lovely space, and the owners have even managed to squeeze in a shower, despite the sloping ceiling.