It’s like an entirely new property! It’s homely and contemporary – while still retaining its original charm – and most importantly, it feels like home
The owner, a museum manager, lives here with her husband and our three children. Before the they moved in, this house very dated. The colour schemes weren’t to my taste, and the kitchen and bathroom both needed a makeover.
Despite its dated decor, Laura knew that this spacious property had the potential to be a forever family home. When we stumbled upon this house back in 2010, we had been on the hunt for a home for our growing family – it had just come back on the market after a sale fell through,’ says the owner.
‘It felt like we’d been looking for an eternity, so we snapped it up straight away. Family houses are hard to find in this area, plus I was also pregnant with our second child, so I was in a hurry to get settled before the new baby arrived.’
Want more real homes ideas? READ: Look around this cool and classic Victorian semi in Northamptonshire
The house had great potential, with three large bedrooms, plenty of space downstairs and the most beautiful garden. It was perfect for our family, although the decor left a lot to be desired. It felt almost stuck in the Eighties – like the front door was a time portal to a property from decades ago! The colours of the wall paint and carpets were not to our taste, and the kitchen and bathroom desperately needed some TLC. ‘We began by painting all the walls white, purely to rid the place of the unsightly colour combos, then we slowly started to work our way around the house, updating each room one by one and putting our own stamp on it.’
‘I’m a bargain-hunter at heart and a sucker for a second-hand gem, so our home is filled with items sourced on eBay and bought from charity shops. The sofa in the sitting room was passed on to us by my mum (although as it was actually red, I had to buy new cream covers to make sure it fits in with the room scheme), and the shelving in the playroom belonged to my grandparents.’ Opting for low-cost pieces meant that the owners could create a totally new look whenever they fancy, just by switching out the cushions and throws.
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‘I always start a makeover by choosing the items of furniture I’d like to go in a room. From there I select wall colours, then finally, accessories. Downstairs, we had the floors sanded and picked Farrow & Ball paints in mostly neutral hues to pep up the walls, as I believe that a blank canvas can help to highlight furnishings and trimmings.’
The house is full of characterful features, so the owners tried to decorate sympathetically and emphasise its history rather than hiding it. ‘We installed a logburner in the sitting room for an authentic – not to mention toasty! – feel, and fitted shelves in the alcoves for added storage. When we moved in, the kitchen was falling apart. The floral wallpaper was stained, there were unboxed pipes protruding all over the place and awful orange pine cabinets. We ripped the entire thing out and started again from scratch, with Ikea units and a nifty new layout that worked much better for us.’
Upstairs, they chose light colours for the bedrooms. ‘Again, we removed the carpets to reveal and restore the original floorboards, though we had a bit of a surprise while repairing a board in our bedroom. Believe it or not, we found a paper bag of sandwiches under the floorboards, wrapped in newspaper from the Fifties! Surprisingly, they were all still intact, though rather dried out! Sandwich scandal over, we finished the bedrooms by adding personality in the form of furniture, artwork and accessories.’
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Buy now: Pink bedspread, £4, Ikea
‘The bathroom had seen better days but the suite itself was in good shape, so we decided to keep that to save a little money. We refreshed the room with a new shower unit, taps and tiles, which made a huge difference. It looks so much bigger and brighter in there now – it’s entirely transformed and such a pleasure to spend time in. More than anything, I’m just glad to see the back of the tarnished gold taps and leaky shower!’
The only exception to the dark colour scheme was the playroom. It’s north-facing, so gets very little sun. ‘We decided to embrace this darkness by painting it deep blue and spicing it up with the children’s colourful toys and our books.’
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Buy now: Bed and storage shelves, Ikea
‘Although our house is nearly all finished now (there is just one more carpet to rip up and we are also thinking about a loft conversion, though I’m not sure if I can handle the dust and disarray!), I’m always browsing Instagram to find more ideas for my home. I can finally say that this place feels like our home now, and we all just love living here. The area is ideal for us as it is very family friendly with lots of lovely cafés, parks and shops nearby. It has been a hard slog to get the house refurbished and looking exactly the way we want it – especially with three kids – but we can see now that it has all been worth it, and we’ve created a dream place that’s perfect for our children to grow up in.’