Giving her new-build home a bold personality of its own came easily to this interiors lover. ‘Going back to live in the place I grew up in felt good. I wanted to be closer to my parents and enjoy village life in leafy Buckinghamshire. When it came to looking at houses, though, I liked the idea of a new build rather than a country cottage, as it wouldn’t need as much repair work or decorating doing to it.’ The owner found a development that had just been built, made an offer and when it was accepted, she started thinking about how she wanted to decorate. All the walls were painted magnolia, so it was a bit of a blank canvas – perfect for creating a beautiful home from scratch.
This three-bedroom end-of-terrace in Buckinghamshire was bought in 2006. It originally had just two bedrooms and there were plain magnolia walls throughout.
The owners wanted to extend the spare bedroom outwards to create a bigger area, and the downstairs kitchen needed to be extended, too, as the existing one was just a gallery style and only big enough for one person to use at a time. ‘We got a team of builders on board, explained what we wanted and soon enough, the work began. It took around five months to complete, but we did have the work carried out during the winter when we had snow to contend with.’
‘Although the wintry weather held back the process a little, our builders were great and they were very tidy, which helps when you are living among the mess. One thing we did learn was, that because we adjoined another property, we needed to get a Party Wall Agreement put in place.’ Here the owner has cleverly mixed vintage pieces, such as the wooden linen sofa, with more modern designs like the hedgehog cushions. Keeping the furniture painted in a unified cream palette creates a calming look and means the pieces work well together.
‘I’m an avid reader of homes magazines and catalogues, and I like to keep up with anything new. I’m particularly fond of my tub chairs. They’ve been reupholstered in a crushed velvet fabric, which is a brilliant material for hiding dirt, as the different shades hide a multitude of sins’
‘Before my husband and I got too bogged down with obsessing over paint charts and fabric samples, we decided early on that we would add a conservatory to give us a much-needed dining room. It’s such a light room and it is lovely to have dinner while looking out onto the garden.’ The owner kept it cosy by adding lots of soft furnishings. ‘I made all the cushions in there using a beautiful, painterly print, and mixed and matched the piping on the edges to add interest – some are green and some are blue, and together they look so soothing and fresh.’
Bold lime accents feature heavily in this kitchen. ‘When we extended the kitchen, we decided to keep the existing cupboards in order to stick to a lower budget – and as they were only a couple of years old, we even managed to source some additional matching pieces. Now, we have a much larger space and a breakfast bar where we can enjoy our early morning cup of tea!’ The chrome column supporting the breakfast bar adds a clean, modern feel.
If you don’t feel brave enough to use a bold colour or a busy wallpaper all over your room, consider a feature wall for a hint of drama. The owners went for a lime-green scheme and chose an eye-catching striped wallpaper, which they hung horizontally to make a great feature wall. ‘Many people comment when they visit.’
Barcode from Harlequin
The spare room, was previously just a box room that could only accommodate one person, but it now holds a double bed, which is much better when guests stay over.
Warm putty tones on the walls and stone finishes create a relaxed aura in the bathroom, while polished chrome accents bring a light finish to the rest of the scheme.
Natural Calico from B&Q
A year or so after the conservatory was built, the owners decided to convert the loft and turn it into a child’s bedroom. There is now a nice, spacious area to play and lots of storage, plus the loft conversion has the extra benefit of turning this property into a three-bedroom place.
‘I’m really pleased with our finished home – it has a flow about it and the rooms styles all mirror the French theme throughout. But that said, my home is an ever-changing canvas and every season I add a few new touches here and there. It’s come a long way from the magnolia walls of old!’
This house tour originally appeared in Style at Home, February 2017