The owner, Gillian, who blogs at Tales From a Happy House, moved to this four-bedroom detached property in Hampshire from Leeds to be nearer family. ‘After thinking it over for a while, we decided it was finally time to take the plunge,’ she said.
Gillian and her husband bought their home in spring 2015 and now live here with their two young children. ‘It’s a 1960s house with typical features, including an asymmetric chimney breast in the living room, huge windows and slanting, wood-clad ceilings. The mintue we saw the garden and the spacious, light rooms, we started thinking about how we could make it work for us.’
When they first moved in all the services had been disconnected, so the house felt cold, bare and bleak. There were some jarring patterns on the walls, the patio door to the balcony was leaking and the boiler and electrics were in a poor state.
Now their home is light and bright, with white walls, wood floors and lots of printed fabrics and hand-made items. A new woodburner is a focal point and the chic blend of high-street furniture, Scandi style and retro pieces enhances the 1960s feel.
If you are on a budget, decide which items it is essential to change and which you can live with. The living room was the couple's first big decorating project and they opened up a boxed-in fireplace. The slope-sided chimney breast is now the room's focal feature as it gave them the opportunity to put in the woodburner they'd always wanted. 'We carried out lots of research online to find a simple design that would suit the clean lines of the room,' says Gillian. The installation was a messy job and by far their biggest project. But there were some aspects of the room that they didn't change. 'We love wood and, although we might not have chosen the dark laminate flooring we've inherited, it's practical and in good condition.'
Use feature walls to add character. Throughout their home, the owners have chosen neutral shades, but then introduced bold colour on feature walls, such as this vivid green in the hallway. 'We love coming home and opening the front door to something vibrant and inspiring. It makes the most of the space even though you don't often linger there.' To contrast with the vibrant green, the couple have made a display with floral prints and white frames.
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Keep a collection of table runners for different occasions. Most of the couple's furniture came with them from Leeds and fortunately fitted in well with the style of their new house. But they did have to part with their old dining table as it was too big, giving it to friends in exchange for their smaller circular G-Plan table. 'This is now one of quite a few retro pieces we've got. It seats four people comfortably and is just right for our cosy dining area. We added replica Eames chairs to complete the look.'
Pick a prime spot to create a gallery of much loved pieces. This 'family wall' of framed treasures adds colour and personality to an otherwise neutral space. 'We use the walls to display items that have meaning for us, such as holiday finds or the children's sewing and artwork. It's a great way to show things of, plus it's easy to change the items to freshen up the look.'
If you inherit a kitchen it may be worth refreshing it with a mini update that will last until you are ready to replace it. The owners would eventually like to redo theirs, but have fixed some wobbly cabinets and added a lick of paint for a perfectly serviceable room. 'Although the kitchen is a little bit worn it's very roomy, full of light and has a simple neutral backdrop, so we're happy to keep it as it is - for now!'
Be bold with blue. The owners have brough their plain white bedroom to life with a deep-blue feature wall and fabulous yellow bed linen. A slim picture shelf makes a lovely display space. 'We're fans of shelves, mantels and ledges. They're a great way to show things off, plus it's easy to hang the items to freshen up the look.'
Include a dressing table that can also serve as a desk. This bedroom has an old pine piece that the owners refreshed with a coat of Annie Sloan paint. The blue curtains and yellow chair continue the theme of the feature wall and bed linen, while the little blue drawer pulls complete the co-ordinated look.
In a child's room, let colour shine on bed linen, lighting and accessories, but keep walls pale and simple. Under-bed storage is a must-have accessory. Look for reversible bed linen that allows you to change the look of a space without any extra outlay. 'The string of bauble lights instantly adds a sense of fun,' say the owners.
Like the kitchen, the bathroom decor is inherited. Eventually the owners plan to replace it, but in the meantime its neutral backdrop and plain white suite suit them just fine. Well chosen accessories, such as the blue towels, help to lift the scheme and add a bit of colour. The couple have not been in their house long, but already it feels like home. 'There's potential to extend the kitchen and upstairs too,' they say. 'It just all takes time. We understand that the 1960s look might not be to everyone's taste, but instead of trying to disguise it, we've embranced it and we think it's worked.'
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