Emma Osborne and Andrew Dehaes-white introduced a touch of modern style to this historic house, enhancing its natural beauty
Thinking big was the starting point for this five-storey family townhouse in Bristol
For Emma Osborne and her new partner Andrew Dehaes-white, a large family called for a spacious home. ‘ We have seven children between us,’ says Emma, ‘and with friends and other family members thrown into the mix, we obviously needed to think big.’
So when it came to looking for their first place together, a spacious 19th-century, five-storey former merchant’s house seemed like the perfect solution. Situated in central Bristol, the Georgian property still boasted its majestic charm and character, ticking all the boxes when it came to location, space and potential. Although in need of refurbishing, it offered the couple a chance to create a home that worked for them. ‘I made an offer in the sitting room during our first viewing,’ says Emma. ‘Although the decor was tired and not to our taste, structurally the building was sound and all the original period features were still in perfect condition, allowing us to concentrate on modernising the interior.’
The house is Grade Ii-listed, which meant that planning consent had to be applied for and, as soon as it was approved,
the renovation work could commence. ‘Choosing colours and materials in keeping with the age of the property was essential,’ says Emma. ‘So, for example, we painted our front door in Brassica, a rich grey tone by Farrow & Ball, and fitted it with traditional door furniture.’
The couple’s first aim was to devise a logical schedule of works with minimal disruption, as they were living in the property with two of their children and two dogs. ‘We had to be organised, because bespoke items needed to be planned ahead to make allowances for availability and fitting requirements,’ says Andrew. ‘Every day was like a school day, with lessons learnt along the way.’
Creating light and airy bedrooms for the children on the top floor was a good starting point. The rooms were redecorated, carpeted and fitted with made-to-measure wardrobes to maximise space. ‘We then had to juggle the order in which we refurbished the bathrooms to ensure we had one functioning shower,’ says Emma. Next, undaunted by the task of redecorating the spacious
drawing room, the couple set to work, painting over the wallpaper. ‘As an alternative to stripping, we applied a base coat of a specialist primer, Zinsser, before applying a pure and natural white to give a warm, soft appearance.’ The neutral colour scheme creates a clean, welcoming and calm interior, allowing the room to come alive.
Emma and Andrew also successfully enhanced the existing period architecture and features, ‘ We projectmanaged the works with the help of a fantastic team of locally sourced tradesmen and artisans,’ says Emma. ‘ We had the original wood spindle staircase stripped and French polished, and the carpentry and sash windows were repaired and new weights were installed.’
Meanwhile, Andrew gave the existing Shaker-style kitchen units a facelift to save money. ‘He repainted the
cabinets in Farrow & Ball’s cornforth White and updated the doorknobs with elegant chrome cup handles for a more contemporary feel,’ says Emma. ‘ We also replaced the marble worktop with a lighter, engineered quartz design.’
Finally, to maximise available space, the disused basement coal bunker was reconfigured to create an extra living area for the family. ‘It is now a serene spot to sit and relax in,’ says Emma, ‘and makes a great break-out place in the evenings.’
When it came to choosing the finishing touches, Emma’s favourite task was sourcing fabrics, art and soft furnishings, such as the handmade curtain pelmets. ‘I spent a lot of time looking for the braiding for the pelmets, too,’ she says. ‘I love reupholstering ottomans and old stools, such as the ones in the kitchen, to give them a fresh new look using interesting fabrics. We’ve put so much energy into refurbishing this beautiful house. All we have left to do now is enjoy it.’
DESIGN TIP ‘Personalise the space by mixing classic and contemporary influences for an eclectic and unique look’
KITCHEN Cabinets in a gentle off-white shade have been teamed with pale quartz worktops to give a relaxed and timeless impression. Cabinets painted in Cornforth White estate eggshell, £60 per 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball. Embankment chrome wall clock,...
DINING room Emma created a striking centrepiece for the table using artificial flowers and a large ceramic urn. Faux flowers, from £6 per stem, Neptune. Table, £1,800; chairs, £250 each, all SJP Interior Design. Doreen pewter ceiling light with string...
cloakroom The couple chose practical features, such as ventilated louvred doors, to hide the appliances and boiler and a Belfast sink with a hose tap. walls painted in Light blue estate emulsion, £ 43.50 per 2.5 litres, Farrow & ball. blind made in...
MASTER Bedroom Floral fabrics and artworks in fresh, vibrant tones lend a feminine feel to this scheme. walls painted in Slaked Lime Mid absolute matt emulsion, £ 42 per 2.5 litres, Little greene. Curtain in Capisoli in Peony, £93m; blind in...