The owner of this new-build in came from Italy to Cambridge on holiday and fell in love with the place. 'After the busy streets of Rome, we found this city so peaceful' the owner explains. 'It was my dream to live in a Victorian property but when I looked at a few, although they were beautiful, I was put off by how much work they needed. Then I spotted this house on a development just around the corner from the hotel we were staying in. We loved the location and area so much we chose to buy this new house off-plan.'
'Moving to the UK was a big adjustment for me and my family. When we moved into our place, it had already been decorated by the developers. Everything was really clean and new, but the place felt soulless and had no personality, especially compared to my previous home. My house in Rome was full of colours and was very cosy. I knew I needed to redecorate this house to make me feel at home here.'
'I replaced the cheap plastic units (in the kitchen) with lovely solid wooden ones from Laura Ashley. I had peppermint green metro tiles put up on the walls, and a new oiled wooden worktop installed. I added country styling to the room with a painted plate rack, floral blinds and a sweet gingham curtain to hide the washing machine.'
'My plate rack helps keep them all easily to hand which saves on cupboard space'.
Get the look
Buy now: similar only country Birkby plate rack, £115, Only Home
Buy now: similar Cheeky pink vintage plates 27cm, £22 each, Royal Albert
After two years of living in the house the owners decided the layout could work harder and with few tweaks, and called in a local architect to help reconfigure the space. A pitched roof extension at the back of the house gave them a light and airy dining room. 'We lost half our garden but we doubled the living area. I now have lots of storage space and the living room is brighter too. The extension has made far better use of our home.'
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Buy now: similar extra large wicker heart, £48, Barker and Stonehouse
Once the extension was finished the owners tackled the rest of their home. They had to buy new furniture so started hunting for pieces that had the right proportions. 'I absolutely love English interiors shops, especially those on the high street so it was an absolute joy to find the right pieces for my home.' The owners painted over the magnolia walls, preferring to use heritage paint shades instead. 'I replaced the fixtures and fittings in every room with ones that were more in keeping with my preferred vintage style. Inspired by the Victorian houses I love, I added features like the fireplace.' The owner has cleverly created the feeling of alcoves either side of the fireplace (like in older properties) using two classic sideboards.
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Buy now: Crumpet sofa and armchair from £795, Loaf
The loft bedroom truly reflects the owners style. 'I love the soft sage green colours and the vintage style curtains.' A wreath of faux leaves and blooms breaks up the country tongue and groove on the walls which can be changed with the passing seasons.
Get the look
Buy now: Margo bed, £945, Loaf
Buy now: similar rose floral wreath, £39, Ella James at Notonthehighstreet
'I squeezed a small ensuite into the loft conversion and painted it the same shade as the bedroom so the space flows.'
This pretty country bedroom is given a French influence with an antique style bed and curvaceous furniture. Sugary pink walls are a warming and feminine, while a delicate pom-pom blanket and gingham bed linen adds to the sense of fun.
The modern bathroom suite that had come with the house was replaced with a charming roll-top bath, basin and dark wooden flooring and the walls were clad with painted tongue-and-groove. Shabby chic storage completes the country vibe. 'My original bathroom was all white and very plain with beige tiles on the walls. I wanted to give it more style despite it being a small space.'
Get the look
Buy now: similar Appleby 1700 roll top shower bath + chrome leg set, £419.95, Victorian Plumbing
'We have renovated every single room in the house, extended the living room and converted the loft. My new build (now) has character'.
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Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at Idealhome.co.uk to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.
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