Step inside this sophisticated family home in Bedford – dressed to perfection for Christmas

The beautifully muted colour palette feels relaxed and smart in equal measure
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  • A few tweaks to the layout, muted colours and glam details have transformed this four-bed Victorian detached house into a home that feels relaxed and smart in equal measure.

    Inspiration: Enjoy a tour of this stunning, sympathetically renovated Victorian semi in Surrey

    When the homeowners swapped their rural barn conversion 
for a house in the centre of Bedford, 
it was all about location. ‘We wanted 
to be within walking distance of the children’s school,’ 
they explain. ‘This house had character, too. I loved 
its high ceilings and decorative windows.’

    The interior was very tired though, all 1980s 
red walls, dark wood, lots of separate rooms and 
a cramped, old-fashioned kitchen. ‘We weren’t fazed, 
as we’d learned so much from renovating our previous home,’ explains the owner. ‘But we knew this would be a bigger undertaking, and we’d have to live on site while the work was done.’


    grey hallway with warm wooden floor

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    The main work was mostly cosmetic and the couple started by painting the whole interior white. ‘That made it liveable. Then we could put together a look that told a 
story through the house. We wanted warmth, elegance and luxury, too.’ After trying out multiple testers they settled 
on a pale grey for most walls.  To compliment the grey they picked out woodwork with silver and darker tones.

    ‘We used subtle wallpapers, too, which make it cosier, and linking elements like mirrors, metallics and velvets. It’s a fabulous house for entertaining and comes into its 
own when the whole family gathers here at Christmas.’

    ‘We were looking for something 
to give the hall and stairs a bit more personality’ explains the owner.  ‘And just fell for this wallpaper. It’s a strong statement, but I only needed 
a small amount, so it’s not overwhelming.’

    The coat cupboard is fitted with floor-
to-ceiling shoe cubbies – for a smart hallway storage solution.


    White kitchen with large central island

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Improving flow around the ground floor was a priority. The homeowners reworked the layout, removing 
a dividing wall, dismantling an old conservatory and blocking up redundant doorways.

    ‘The idea was to have a contemporary kitchen-cum-family room with an open-plan feel, but a separate dining room and a more grown-up sitting room.’

    white contemporary kitchen

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    ‘The new kitchen was the key project, and we moved in in August with the aim of completing it by Christmas. There were several weeks 
of doing the washing up in the bath, but we got there.’

    A long, multifunctional island separates the kitchen from 
the adjoining seating area. A chimney-style extractor would have obstructed sightlines, so 
a rise-up downdraught design was fitted into the worktop.

    ‘The kitchen is understated, with everything neatly hidden out of sight,’ delights the homeowner. 
‘The decorative lighting stops 
it from feeling too functional, 
so it’s not intrusive – especially when we’re entertaining.’ The contemporary design is 
Leicht Ikono C kitchen units, costing £26,000, Kitchen Matters.

    Living room

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    ‘Blocking up the doorway from the dining room gave us more scope and a quiet, separate retreat. It lacked a focal point until we put the fireplace in, then it all came together. ‘The marble fireplace, bought online and installed by a local fitter, is light and timeless, and echoes the dining room one, which was here when we moved in.’

    A subtle patterned wallpaper adds interest to the scheme, while picking out the picture rail 
in darker grey made it look really crisp and smart.

    Complimentary icy colours keep the Christmas decorating simple yet glamorous, with a few fresh flowers to add a natural touch.

    Buy now: Harlequin Sakura Wallpaper, £64 a roll, John Lewis & Partners

    Dining area

    grey dining room at Christmas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    ‘The white and grey scheme creates an easy flow between here and the kitchen, so it works for everyday family meals, but it’s glamorous enough for formal entertaining.’

    ‘The Christmas table is simple and elegant, but fun too. I love using fresh greenery and flowers, with festive touches, like sweets and crackers’ explains the homeowner. Made-to-measure rug fits the large space exactly.

    Master bedroom

    master bedroom with mirrored bed and pink headboard

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    ‘The period details were a big draw in this house and this little fireplace makes a gorgeous focus for our bedroom. It was black, but painting it has really lifted it and made it much prettier.’

    ‘The bed was the first item 
I chose and it’s quite luxurious, so it set the mood. I boosted the glamour with polished chrome, mirrors and sumptuous velvets.’

    Master en suite

    en suite bathroom with blue sink cabinet

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    ‘We reconfigured the rooms upstairs a bit to turn a cramped shower room into an en suite adjoining our bedroom. It’s 
very simple, but it gives a luxury, hotel-like feel.’

    Girl’s bedroom

    white bedroom with four poster bed

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    The daughter put her own Pinterest board together, and chose a grown-up, all-white scheme. With the homeowner adding, ‘which she and I then softened with touches of pink and gold. The metallic wallpaper adds warmth and a bit of shimmer.’

    Made-to-measure shutters highlight the pretty windows.

    Buy now: Rasetti Ivory Wallpaper, £68 per roll, Designers Guild

    Family bathroom

    white bathroom

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    ‘The bathroom was enormous, but very old-fashioned with everything sitting around the edges. We wanted a stylish hotel look, with warm tones and 
a big bath, away from the wall, so the room felt more cosy.’

    Related: Renovated penthouse decorated in neutrals creates a calming retreat in an urban setting

    What has this homeowner learnt from undertaking the project? ‘Not to be afraid to rearrange rooms as 
needs change.’

    ‘We used to have 
a table in the space adjoining the kitchen, but now the children are older, sofas work better for relaxing and chatting, and we always eat together in the dining room.

    This stunning house first appeared in Ideal Home magazine, December 2020.

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