Have a look around this calm and cosy terraced home in Durham

The owner updated a dark and dingy house into a sophisticated, stylish interior with a calming palette

living room with white wall and stairs
(Image credit: Future PLC/Jeremy Phillips)

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!


building with brick wall doors and windows

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jeremy Phillips)

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.

Living room

living room with white wall and white paper and stairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jeremy Phillips)

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.

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kitchen with white wall and chimney

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jeremy Phillips)

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.

living room with white wall and couch

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jeremy Phillips)

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.

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bedroom with white wall and bed

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jeremy Phillips)

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.


bathroom with wooden floor and commode

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jeremy Phillips)

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.’

Heather Young

Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.