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A monochrome palette gives the owners a flexible backdrop for their evolving style
This house was most definitely ready for an update when it was purchased back in 2015. The owners instantly fell in love with its period charm and the good size of both the property and garden. Having moved from a small three-bedroom terraced cottage, the versatile layout downstairs appealed to the couple, and the large kitchen in the centre of the house works as a social hub, flowing into both the dining and living areas.
The owner’s job as editor of Rock My Style – a lifestyle website covering travel, beauty and interiors – means she is surrounded by decorating inspiration and ideas. Both a blessing and a curse, looking at beautiful properties every day means she has learned to sit on ideas before applying them to her own home, to avoid rushing into decisions she might regret.
To begin the transformation, the couple repainted the walls and put down new carpet to give themselves a neutral base on which to build up their look in each room. ‘Giving ourselves a blank canvas to work with when we first moved in meant we could start from scratch when it came to decorating each room,’ says the owner. ‘We were lucky that the previous owners had preserved the beautiful fireplaces, as these period touches give the rooms instant character on which to build from.’
Describing their style as calm and classic with a modern twist, they’ve decorated with the aim of building up the look over time and allowing the spaces to evolve naturally with carefully selected treasures, rather than filling each room with a clutter of curios that don’t have any meaning.
‘Rushing the process can lead to costly mistakes,’ the owner says, ‘so early on, we decided to give ourselves a deadline of two to three years to complete the whole house, to avoid making snap decisions just for the sake of finishing quicker.’
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Outside the handsome four-bedroom Victorian semi in Northamptonshire. Luckily, it didn’t need any structural work, so the owners were able to focus all of their effort and budget into creating their dream interior and giving each room its own identity.
The owner made the coffee table from a wooden pallet and existing metal table base. ‘The previous owners had preserved the beautiful fireplaces, like this one in the sitting room,’ says the owner. ‘Period touches give rooms character you can build on.’
‘I think foliage can look just as impactful as florals when it comes to styling your home, plus they tend to last much longer and don’t cost much to replace,’ she adds. ‘I love to bring organic elements into my look; just a few sprigs of eucalyptus in a statement vase can make an informal table centrepiece or dress a bedside table for guests.’
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If you’re daunted by the thought of going over to the dark side, start by painting just one element in the room in a dark shade to see how it looks. The owners painted the fireplace and shelving unit on the far wall in the snug in Valspar’s Charcoal Sketch grey to get a refined, library-inspired look. ‘We love the impact it now has when you walk into the room! Trust me, once you start using darker paint, you’ll be hooked!’
The desk is an Ikea hack made from a scaffolding plank and Ikea table legs. Above it, a bespoke wall-mounted shelf highlights the alcove and provides additional storage.
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The budget for the kitchen project was £500, including all lighting. The owners made the previous cream units work for them by painting them white and replacing the knobs. They also replaced the splashback tiles with some more to their taste.
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Low pendants create intimacy at the dining table. ‘Financially, we weren’t in a position to replace the kitchen floor,’ explains the owner. ‘Instead, we decided to paint the wooden dining room floor in a dark shade to tie the two spaces together seamlessly and create more of an open-plan feel.’
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The chest of drawers originally had a pine finish, but the owner painted it in Farrow & Ball’s Railings eggshell to give it a more industrial vibe. Teaming it with a shutter mirror creates a sideboard or dresser effect. The statement floor lamp creates an instant focal point for a bare corner, and provides some moody downlighting – it was a £65 bargain from Homesense.
‘Lighting can make or break a room and sets the tone for the kind of atmosphere you want to create in a given space,’ says the owner. ‘I try to avoid always using one big ceiling light and so instead have at least three accent lamps where possible to give a subtle and more welcoming glow, particularly in living areas and bedrooms. I always top this off with candles too for extra warmth.’
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‘We want guests to feel as comfortable and relaxed as we are, so in the spare room, we’ve layered up lots of different textures using rugs, blankets and cushions to create cosiness,’ says the owner.
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The textured blanket and gold pouffe give the master bedroom an on-trend Moroccan vibe. ‘Dusky pinks add a feminine touch to our room, but paring it back with whites and greys means my husband is happy, too,’ says the owner.
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It’s next on the list for renovation, but the bathroom is perfectly usable for the time being. ‘We just had to prioritise which rooms to decorate first when we moved in’, the owner explains. ‘I’d like something a little more fitting with the era of the house – I’ve always dreamed of having a Burlington-style sink!’
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‘It’s all too easy to get caught up in the latest fads and trends, but these looks often tire quickly and won’t stand the test of time if you see the pieces as props rather than mementos,’ says the owner. ‘I believe you should always be true to your own style; a home should be a reflection of you and your life so fill it with things that have meaning and make you happy. I love decorating with photographs to cherish both old and new memories, and build up new stories over the year.’
‘We haven’t lived in the house quite long enough to get the layered look I’m aiming for overall, but I know this will come with time and evolve over the years to come.’