Buying a house is a daunting experience, but buying a house that hasn’t yet been built is sure to multiply that sense of nervous expectancy. The owners of this house can testify to that, although they remember it being exciting in equal measure.
‘We wanted to buy in Shefford as it’s close to our families and the school that our children attend,’ they say. ‘Plus it’s a lovely quiet village. We chose one of the houses at the end of a brand-new development, so we’d benefit from beautiful views of the countryside.’
Another bonus was that they wouldn’t be overlooked by the neighbours!
When the couple bought the house it didn't have much character. 'We knew we wanted to inject some personality.' Thankfully the property had a lot of space in which to do that and, in addition, the owners had a say in choosing the tiles, flooring and kitchen one of the many advantages to buying a new-build. 'It meant we could move in without the hassle of having to do those big jobs later on,' they say.
The couple wanted the all-white living room to feel cosy, so they chose a pale cream carpet to match the cream floor tiles in the kitchen, creating a sense of flow through the ground floor. 'I fell in love with Farrow & Ball's Manor House Grey paint so we painted the two larger walls of the room in this shade. I was initially worried it might be too dark, but the colour varies depending on the light and makes the room feel calm and inviting,' says one of the owners.
They have also taken inspiration from the colours found in the wall canvas to choose accessories that help to pull the scheme together - tactile finishes, such as blush-coloured cushions and copper accents are a good example. In addition, a plush rug adds another layer of texture in the space.
It's not all neutrals in the living room though - stand-alone pieces, such as a chartreuse velvet armchair, add a pop of colour and boost the warmth coming from the soft pinks and copper hues. Texture is also key in this space, with varied finishes from woven basketry to rough-hewn wood layered beautifully for a homely, lived-in feel.
This neat little side table, with its understated lamp, bowl and candle, makes a chic addition to this living room, and also brings a touch more warmth to the cool neutrals. All that's missing is a cup of tea! 'I'm a sucker for Jo Malone candles on a winter's evening,' says the owner.
Similar tray table
Marks & Spencer
A perfect family kitchen, where everyone could gather together, had long been a dream of the owners. But when it came to designing the space prior to the completion of the build, they had limited options. 'None that we were shown by the builders quite fit the look I wanted. I decided to go for white granite worktops and Shaker-style cabinets, which I knew I could paint in a different colour later on.'
Once they'd moved in, the couple got professionals in to repaint the dark units - it took three coats, but now the pale kitchen meets the owners' original vision.
Farrow & Ball
Peony & Sage
Changing the original dark units by painting them a lighter colour made the space feel lighter and bigger. The couple then chose white metro tiles - with grey grouting - to create a splashback, and changed the handles on the cabinets for vintage-style cup designs to give them more of a country feel.
The couple carried the bright and airy look of the kitchen through into the adjacent dining area, by using a palette of similar shades and country-style wooden furniture to complement the Shaker units. As well as the country-style furniture a sofa at the far end of this space promotes a relaxed feel; 'It means we can all use it as an open-plan family space at mealtimes, without being on top of each other,' say the owners.
'Because life can be busy with two young children, I wanted to create a calming space in our bedroom to unwind in.' So, mellow tones with touches of plum and gold have been chosen as the base of this bedroom - the subtly patterned peacock feather wallpaper is prime example of the design choices here.
This little girl's bedroom is pretty as a picture - stars are a theme here, and muted green accents tone down the pink-and-white decor. 'We wanted the children to have a say in how their bedrooms were decorated. Our daughter chose Pink Slip by Little Greene for her walls, and we then mixed in soft pastel shades and quirky decorations to create a girlie space that she adores.'
'Our son requested that Batman somehow be incorporated into his room, so I rose to the challenge and went for a striking monochrome scheme with pops of orange.' While the space has a definite nod to the superhero - with Batman wall stickers on the white wall - it's easy enough to update/ return to a neutral design as their son grows. For now though, 'he calls it his Batcave!'
While the owners did have a say in the bathroom during the build, they still aren't entirely happy with the way that it looks, and have earmarked it for redecorating in the future. 'I chose beige and stone-effect tiles, as they are simple and neutral so work well for now. I had a tongue-and-groove bath panel made to give the room a more traditional feel,' says the owner, who also styled up the space with wooden accessories and touches of copper.
The practical open-plan home is working well for the family though, and is ideal at times like Christmas, when space is essential! 'We're very happy with how the house functions for us as a family - we started with a basic shell, but now out home is filled to the brim with character. Our advice would be, don't feel you have to stick with just one style; give each room an identity and link them all together with a coordinating look.'