The owner updated a dark and dingy house into a sophisticated, stylish interior with a calming palette
Back in 2003, the homeowner and her two children were living in a County Durham village, in a Seventies semi that had zero character. Then she spotted a 1900s three-bedroom terrace with a for-sale sign outside.
‘It was just up the road from here, so I used to pass this house daily,’ she says. ‘When I saw it was up for sale, I decided to view it and adored the high ceilings and feeling of space.’
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The owner fell in love with the house immediately and could see its potential even though she had to look past the navy floral carpets and dark paint. All the doors were painted in dark varnish, as were the banister and spindles and skirting boards throughout the house, and the bathroom suite was floral avocado!
The sale went through in July 2004, and the owner and her kids moved into the house pretty much as it was. The survey had turned up a small damp problem in the living room, so it was made a condition of the mortgage that she put in a damp-proof treatment on the chimney breast.
This was done when they moved in, and led to her biggest achievement, which was discovering the original stone fire surround and inglenook fireplace completely by accident.
The owner popped into the house the night before the living wall was due to be re-skimmed. ‘It was already prepared for the work to be done the next day, with beading on the chimney breast, and I could see stone up to about three feet so I started chipping away at the older plaster above and found the original fireplace, which stands at over five feet high.’
‘It was such an exciting moment for me, as I had always wanted to have either an open fire or wood-burning stove,’ the owner says.
The owner’s brother and his wife have very minimalistic taste and luckily they had just moved into a new house which had a log burner that they didn’t want, so they gave it to her. She installed it in the opened-up inglenook fireplace, and it really adds a focal point to the room. ‘Plus, it’s lovely to have lit during the winter months’ she adds.
The living room may be lovely and cosy in the winter, with the log burner crackling, but the kitchen is the room the family spend most of their time in during the summer.
‘I’m a huge fan of neutral shades with splashes of monochrome, lots of greenery by way of plants and flowers and as many different textures as I can throw in. I’m a total charity shop fanatic, I love a bargain and an upcycling project as much as I love anything mismatched or wonky,’ the owner says.
Another room that needed work was the kitchen. ‘It’s south facing, and as there was a solid wood back door, it wasn’t as bright as it could have been,’ the owner says. When the family first moved in, she painted the units to make the room lighter until they got round to properly replacing the kitchen in 2013.
‘I moved the room around, so I could fit bifold doors into the space,’ says the owner. ‘At the same time, I added the island. I adore the reclaimed wood worksurface and it’s totally transformed the look of this space, and best of all, it only cost £100!’
The owner wanted to create a relaxed, social hub type area where the family could catch up in at the end of the day. ‘I found the leather sofa on Gumtree for around £100. It’s super-comfy and I love sitting there and having a quiet moment to myself.’
‘My only disappointment is that the floor in the kitchen is concrete – I would love to have an original wood floor, so I’ve had to compromise with wood-effect stone tiles instead, in the meantime,’ she says.
The owner wanted a neutral, calm scheme with white walls, from where she can lie in bed and enjoy a wonderful view of fields out of the window.
‘I layered my bed with different textured throws, fluffy cushions and hung different shaped frames and mirrors to add interest on the walls. Pink was a colour I wanted to introduce in my bedroom, but I wanted it to balance with the taupe and slate grey of the existing pieces,’ says the owner.
The owner had the plaster removed from the bathroom wall to add texture, and put up pretty blind fabric to soften the scheme.
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There are still projects the owner is keen to tackle in the house. ‘My next plan is to source reclaimed parquet for the sitting room and to have the porch floor tiled with grey-and-white tiles,’ she says.
This house tour is just WOW: You could live in these spectacular converted stables – and wait until you see the views!
‘But so far, I’ve loved every minute of updating this house, and making it a home for myself and my children.’