'We had rented for many years, so buying a house was really exciting,’ says the owner of this Victorian house in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Discovering this detached Victorian house, she and her husband fell in love with its spacious rooms, which included three bedrooms, a bathroom and an en suite, plus an extended kitchen and converted loft. ‘We call this house the Tardis, because you can’t tell how big it is from the outside.’
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The couple loved the original features, like the windows and the fireplaces, but the decor needed updating.
'It was a project that wouldn’t involve ripping down walls, though, and I could see how quickly we could make a difference to it simply by painting, creating designated spaces and adding in some personality,’ the owner says.
The owner and her husband live in their three-bedroom Victorian detached house in St Albans with their two-year-old French bulldog.
The previous owner had the living and dining room as one large living room, but the new owners sectioned it off and centred the sofas around the log burner. ‘It means whoever is in the living room is near enough to the kitchen that we can still chat to each other,’ she says.
Travelling overseas to Copenhagen regularly for work, she was inspired by the monochrome decor there and was keen to inject some Scandi style into her home. ‘I really wanted the house to look pared back, but with lots of design features and unique finds from my travels. I wanted to mix it up with soft natural wood and minimal Danish-style accessories,’ she says.
The couple ran the same light oak flooring throughout, too, to bring all the rooms together visually. Artworks of varying sizes have been mounted in matching black frames for continuity and grouped above the sofa for interest.
‘We picked our dining room furniture for its Danish feel,’ says the owner. ‘Our style is minimal and I love pared-back furniture and a clean look.’ Natural wood pendant lights were grouped together to hang at a height that is reflected in the large circular mirror.
The biggest job to tackle was the kitchen. The couple replaced the old grey granite worktops and removed wall units they could do without, to open up the space.
‘I love the design features of many of the cafes I’ve seen in Copenhagen and wanted to mix up the monochrome with soft natural wood and minimal Danish-style accessories,’ says the owner.
Then the walls were tiled and a new sink, hob, extractor and shelves fitted. Instead of just a tiled splashback, the white tiles with black grout run from floor to ceiling and provide the perfect backdrop to the jet-black extractor hood.
‘It wasn’t major work, but it really transformed the space from a bland kitchen to one with more style,’ says the owner. ‘It’s the best house for entertaining, as everyone always ends up in the kitchen!
‘I really wanted the bed to be the focus of the main bedroom, so I chose a copper frame that stands out against the dark walls,’ the owner says. ‘I also like to turn my cushions up so you can see the zips – many of the ones I have gold zips, so it seems a shame to hide them away!’
As the loft bedroom is filled with natural light, the owner used a dark grey-black paint to create striking backdrops. ‘The colour is Nighthawk by Crown, which we had specially mixed,’ she says.
'Spend time working out how to make the best use of space,' she advises. 'We needed our loft space to be a guest room, office and storage area. With an ottoman bed and the right cupboards, it’s probably the most practical room in the house.'
Get the look
Buy now: Alana copper bed, from £399 for a double, Made.com
Buy now: Malm bed, £205, Ikea
Ready for another house tour? Have a look around this calm and cosy terraced home in Durham
Painting the ceiling in black creates a statement and stops the bathroom from feeling too stark.
Get the look
Buy now: Ceiling in Rich Black matt emulsion, £16L, Dulux at B&Q
Buy now: For a similar ladder, try Bamboo in black, £39, Tika Moon
The owner is so pleased with how the house has evolved since they moved in. 'It makes me happy to come home to this place. It’s such a pleasure to relax in,' she says.
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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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