This neutral, Fifties house in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear has been given a glitzy feel with shiny surfaces, plush textiles and lots of sparkle. The owner, a flight manager for Virgin Atlantic, shares this home with her husband, a property developer, and their two-year old son. 'As soon as I walked up the garden path, I just fell in love with it. I loved the symmetry and the feeling as I walked into the hallway.' There had only been one previous owner, a fruitier turned property developer who built this house for his wife. Although the house felt rather dark and was frozen in a Fifties time warp, with owner's experience and an eye for finish touches, they couple knew that they could create a bright family home.
'It was very quirky looking, with old-fashioned carpets and a retro red-and-yellow kitchen. A lot of people would have run a mile, but there was a large rear garden, with plenty of space to extend, and we could see the potential.'
2/10 Living room
The owner project-managed the renovation with the help of three tradesmen. The couple's wish list for their new home included extending the kitchen-diner overlooking the rear garden, adding a utility room at the side and building over the garage to create a main bedroom at the front of the property. 'We were originally going to have the en-suite bathroom at the front, but there was so much space in the loft, we put it up there with a dressing room, which meant we were able to have a dual-aspect bedroom.'
3/10 Dining room
Get Christmas ready with shiny surfaces and a lot of sparkle. The mirrored glass baubles give this modern scheme a vintage look. 'We love the holidays and couldn't resist buying all new silver and gold decorations to match the house's decor.' The existing Fifties wall panelling was repainted, while the original built-in drinks cabinet has been enhanced with a new inset mirror above it.
Tom Dixon at Heal's
The owner wanted to keep things contemporary, simple and sleek with clean lines, so they've gone for mostly white walls with earthy colours on furniture and cabinetry, with copper accents. 'We thought the mushroom-coloured units we had gone for might be too dark, but the room came together when we laid the grey floor tiles next to them.'
If you're completely transforming a property's interior, bring personality to it with some thoughtfully chosen fixtures. A local firm restored the original Fifties oak banister and updated it with a glass panel. When refurbishing, staircases can often be overlooked, but they can change the look of a hallway. While most are made from wood, there are other materials to consider, such as metal, glass or stone. The glass barrier creates a feeling of spaciousness in a narrow hall.
6/10 Master Bedroom
Pick a headboard that will make the bed the star centrepiece of your room. 'The starting point for the scheme was the headboard, as I love the pictures on the fabric.' This black-and-white design sits in sharp relief against the white walls. A few lime green and charcoal accents really help the space to sing out. With three guest rooms, there are plenty of beds for when the family come to stay at Christmas.
Create a fabulous feature wall, but keep the rest of the room scheme neutral. Feature walls are a simple but high impact way to transform any room in your home. The owner was inspired by some of the bold wallpapers that were in the bedroom when she first moved in. 'They were very quirky, so I picked out the key colours from a couple of the guest bedrooms for my cushions and accessories as a bit of a nod to the past.'
8/10 Attic bedroom
Drench your bedroom in natural light with a stylish and super-useful skylight. Extending above the garage gave the owner the vaulted ceiling she had always wanted. Although skylights typically serve to simply boost overall light levels, when positioned above the bed, they have a more specific, practical role. This design will provide enough illumination for a spot of bedtime reading or working.
Refresh your bathroom with textured tiles. For a truly contemporary look, explore alternative methods of tiling in unusual pattern, size and texture. The couple added windows to flood the family bathroom with light - an effect that they've maximised by choosing pearlised wave-effect tiles for the walls. Enhance the impact of textured tiles by limiting their use to specific areas, such as around a bath.
10/10 Child’s room
Play with the colours of the sky, sea and sand to form a dreamy coastal theme in your child's room. 'I really wanted a nautical theme, as my son loves boats and lighthouses.' A fun sail-boat bed adds a maritime note to this themed space. The owners have kept the walls and floor pale so as not to distract from the star of the show.
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Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.
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