Although the owners had originally chosen the house as a stop-gap, they’ve really settled in. ‘The area has good schools for our children, and we’re near the beach, so it’s perfect,’ says Laurie, who runs Ruby Summers Country Home, painting and restoring furniture.
They previously owned a two-bedroom house, but it had become much too small for them. ‘We let it out, so we could rent a larger place for ourselves, but after three years, we sold our previous house and started searching for a new home.’ To find the space they wanted on a budget, they knew they’d be looking for a do-er upper.
‘I wanted a Victorian house because I love their spacious rooms, high ceilings and character.’ They had looked at a few possibilities, but as soon as they walked into this place, they felt sure it was the one. ‘The decor wasn’t for me, but the layout was ideal and the original fireplaces and picture rails really appealed. There was a lot to do, though. The kitchen was quite basic but neutral, so we knew it could be updated easily, but the dark carpets, heavy colours and loud patterned wallpapers had to go.’
The couple were pretty hands-on and undertook most of the work themselves, which saved huge amounts of money. 'We stripped the flowery wallpaper in the living room almost straight away, and pulled up the old carpet as I was going to paint the floorboards underneath. Unfortunately, I found concrete instead of wood at one end of the room, so we ended up laying a new carpet on that part. We also needed to lay new hall flooring, as there was just concrete underneath the grotty vinyl.'
Here in the hall, the owners laid a practical, hardwood floor - it's durable and easy to maintain. Wood flooring is clean, stylish and works with many different room schemes. A true classic, oak is still a firm favourite because of its versatility and soft natural colouring. The look has been kept light and airy with a neutral palette.
Plain white walls and shabby-chic accessories (that add texture and dashes of colour) give this space a fresh feel. 'The living room is my favourite area. I love how light and pretty it is, and the log burner keeps it cosy in the evenings.' A storage trunk maximises unused space, as well as providing a styling opportunity - it makes a great spot for a select stack of coffee table books, for instance.
Light and feminine was the feel that the owners wanted to achieve in their home. The walls were mostly painted plain white, which is cost-effective, and very easy to touch up if needed. 'I love pinks though, and I've got lots of painted furniture in pastels, off-whites and greys.' This old cloakroom mirror was purchased at a car-boot sale. 'It was dark brown wood but, once painted, it makes a great quirky feature.'
The couple have gone for a shabby chic aesthetic in the kitchen-diner; essentially a
country look, with an elegant, often French-inspired twist. Relaxed at its heart, shabby chic style is an infusion of time-worn furniture, a pale palette and dainty florals and kitsch linens. 'We gave the kitchen a brilliant budget facelift, by painting the cabinets and adding new white porcelain knobs.'
Beautiful carved wooden homeware adds a touch of craftsmanship to this cosy alcove. 'We took a kitchen unit out of this alcove and replaced it with a lovely little bench, which fits the space nicely. I painted it and made a cover.' Upcycling furniture is a fantastic way to save money, and lend personality and character to a home; this solid wooden piece will stand the test of time.
An abundance of pretty pink in this room endows it with a soft and feminine vibe. Playful butterfly shaped bunting makes an adorable garland for dressing a window. This straightforward make is ideal for novice crafters and doesn't require any in-depth sewing skills thanks to the use of iron-on adhesives.
Ditsy florals, motifs and festive bunting bring more than a hint of vintage style to the master bedroom. 'Carry motifs through the house for a coherent look - I've chosen large hearts like the one in my kitchen.' They've also used soft furnishings to add a punchy patchwork layer of stripes, dots and pretty flower prints to an otherwise pale white scheme.
Paint can totally transform a tired old piece of furniture, and if you can manage some basic upholstery, too, it really does make a difference. 'I painted the boys' second-hand beds, and used the same blue on the wooden stars on the wall.' Here the owners have really embraced the Marvel theme with plenty of comic book motifs and an abundance of stars. Blue bed linen and red accents complete the look.
Similar bed linen
The White Company
Pale shades can really lift a room. It took four or five coats of white paint to cover the deep wall colours in the bathroom - they were teal green with yellow gloss woodwork. Changing them to gentle taupe and clean, matt white has made a massive difference; there's a whole new lightness that increases the sense of space.
While the owners didn't have much DIY experience to begin with, they've learnt so much as they've gone along, picking up vital information from watching online video tutorials. 'There aren't many tasks we wouldn't tackle ourselves now. I'm really proud of what we've achieved in this house, especially as we fitted it all around our family and our jobs.'