'When it came to selecting a location to buy our next house, it was quite simply a case of putting a pin on the map,’ says the owner of this link-detached family home in Oxfordshire. ‘The area had to have good secondary schools for our two boys, and a mainline station into London for my husband’s commute to work.'
A village northwest of Oxford ticked all the boxes and offered beautiful countryside on the doorstep as a bonus. But when the sale of the family's old house fell through on the day of exchange, they had no choice but to rent in the area, as the boys’ schooling was already in place.
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'We moved into a picturesque, 300-year-old cottage just outside the village, and ended up renting there for nearly five years while still keeping an eye on the housing market,' the owner says.
'When we first saw this Seventies property we dismissed it, as it was nothing like the pretty cottage we had grown to love – yet something kept drawing us back to it. When we eventually viewed it in person, we put an offer in straightaway, as the space and location were too good to pass up.'
This Seventies four-bedroom link-detached house in Oxfordshire, had dingy carpets and dated wallpaper and, except for the kitchen, hadn’t been updated in nearly 40 years. The new owners have given every room a cosmetic overhaul and restored original features like the beautiful parquet flooring. The decor has a Scandi-inspired edge and colourful art that makes it personal to them.
Within the first week of moving in, the owner had painstakingly stripped layer upon layer
of floral wallpaper from the hall and staircase and painted everything
white, to create a blank canvas. 'I don’t feel settled when my surroundings aren’t right, so I was keen to tackle as much as I possibly could early on,' she says.
The previous owners had lived in the house for 40 years and the interior needed a complete overhaul – it had tired carpets, an ancient air heating system and garish wallpaper, but it had fantastic scope for a project.
'As soon as we were handed the keys, I asked friends over to help rip out the tatty carpets,' the owner says. 'We were lucky enough to discover original parquet flooring throughout the downstairs, which I absolutely love – even though it’s a little worn in places, I think it adds to the character.'
When it came to choosing the decorating schemes for each room, the owner embraced her love of classic Scandinavian design. 'Using my chosen colour palette and simplistic, unfussy furniture, I have channelled a cosy, Nordic look throughout.' she says. 'Each room has a modern-eclectic twist on top of its Scandi-inspired backdrop and I love to mix in some splashes of muted colour to add warmth.'
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She chose Farrow & Ball’s Cinder Rose to create a striking focal point behind the sofa and introduce a pop of subtle pink to balance out the dark sofa. 'Choose a cohesive set of colours to run through your home and help tie the different spaces together. Even one or two accent hues will help to create flow,' the owner says.
The Habitat sofa is one of the owner's favourite pieces. 'It has lasted nearly 10 years with two boys in the house!' she says. 'The leather is easy to wipe down and keep clean and I love the simple shape of the frame.’
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The previous owners had fairly recently fitted a new kitchen so the family haven’t had to change anything structurally or replace the units. They added a new double oven and fridge freezer and painted the walls when they first moved in. 'The space works well for us and having the open-plan layout into the dining area means this room is the most used in the house,' says the owner.
Although small, the kitchen is perfectly formed and the breakfast bar helps to create a divide within the open-plan space. A simple paint job in the kitchen – using Farrow & Ball’s Railings – has created a contrast against the white gloss units.
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‘The dining area is a busy part of the house and we spend a lot of time working and socialising here,' says the owner. The seating is an eclectic mixture of Bentwood chairs, Eames-style Eiffel chairs and a casual bench to match the IKEA Ypperlig dining table.
‘I’ve grouped together some of my favourite art prints with a monochrome theme to create a gallery wall,' the owner says. 'My husband and I have built up quite a collection of artwork over the years. As I had so much, I decided to create several gallery walls throughout the house as it’s a quick and easy way to personalise any space.'
Previously painted in several shades of blue, the owner went for a calm and neutral palette in the bedroom and exposed the original floorboards. The simple white shelves with wooden brackets from IKEA ooze Scandi charm. 'I’m always changing around the displays and adding new accessories,’ the owner says.
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The upstairs bathroom was stuck in a Seventies time warp, with thick brown carpet, peach wall tiles and green flocked wallpaper! The owner painted the walls and tiles white, and has made the space less of an eyesore for the time being. 'We hope to completely redo the bathroom eventually and install a new suite to really make it our own,' the owner says. ‘I love to use foliage as a finishing touch as I find it helps to freshen up any space and make it feel lived in.’
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Working from home means the owner spends most of my day in the house, which has been a big factor in getting so much of the renovation complete in a short space of time.
'I soon learned that redecorating cosmetically is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to inject personality into any space if you don’t have the budget or scope to tackle structural work,' she says. 'I’ve focused my energy into styling each room simply, using paint, furniture and accessories. Although the house is always evolving, it has come a million miles from the dated shell we first bought.’
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