GIVE YOUR HOME REAL PERSONALITY WITH BOLD POPS OF COLOUR
Ruth and Andy Preston found that adding contrasting colour was the quickest route to fixing bland décor
Ruth and Andy Preston didn’t have to look far when they began their search for a spacious new family home; they discovered a detached Victorian house with lots of character and plenty of outside space just a few streets away from where they were living.
‘It was a wrench to leave our old home, as our children were born there and it was full of special memories, but it was clear that we were going to need more space,’ explains Ruth. ‘When we viewed this house, it was full of great features, with original tiles in the hallway, large well-proportioned rooms and old school-style radiators. It was decorated beautifully, but it was quite neutral and that’s just not us. We planned to make it really contemporary.’
The first thing the Prestons did after moving in was decorate their son Jude’s bedroom, so he could feel settled while the rest of the house was in turmoil. ‘The idea was to finish one room before we started working on another,’ says Ruth. ‘We had to be pretty organised to juggle work commitments with three young children and a house renovation, but the best solution was to not think about it too much, and just do it.’
Luckily, there was enough downstairs space for the family to live in comfortably while
the work went on around them. ‘We found it frustrating at times, but thankfully a lot of what needed changing was cosmetic,’ says Ruth.
‘We simply moved the furniture from room to room to accommodate the work. Some days we had no electricity, or no hot water, or we had to keep the children away from wet paint, but everyone was very adaptable.’
Ruth and Andy were keen to bring more natural light into the hallway, so they replaced some of the door panels with glass, and painted the walls white to show off the original red and brown floor tiles. ‘We added a kick of colour by painting the banisters and key pieces of furniture dark grey to create a link to other rooms in the house,’ explains Ruth.
‘We love the contrast and the feeling of warmth that colour creates. I also like mixing patterns and different texture. I’ll take an idea from something I’ve seen and then try to take it a step further.’ Upstairs, the couple made better use of space of an unnecessarily large family bathroom by turning it into a shared bedroom for their twins, Lena and Emmy.
They also split a bedroom next to it into two rooms to create a smaller main bathroom and an en suite for the main bedroom.
The living room was the last area to be decorated, and was the one that created the most problems. After having a new carpet fitted, Ruth and Andy discovered it was faulty and needed to be replaced. The replacement was then damaged by a spillage, which took five professional attempts to clean. ‘Once we were happy with it and could finally put up the blinds, we could relax,’ says Ruth. ‘We had felt really exposed with bare windows, so it was good to make the room feel homely again.’
Ruth has brought personality to her home’s décor by using large areas of colour
blocking, including painting a feature wall in the living room in a deep shade of mahogany brown. A lighter complementary shade on the other walls keeps the whole effect calm and welcoming. The dark feature wall allows a bright geometric rug, deep-green velvet sofa and colourful artwork to pop out.
Moody shades brought to life by splashes of bright, primary colour is a common theme that Ruth has employed throughout the house. ‘We wanted a combination of modern colours and an imaginative mix of old and new furniture,’ explains Ruth. ‘I like to have fun with colour and create something quite bold, even in the small spaces. In our previous house, we weren’t brave enough to do these things, but here we have patterned floor tiles working alongside a striped stair carpet, floral prints against dark-grey-painted furniture and colourful posters all the way through the house.’
Ruth has used scale to add visual impact to the rooms too, choosing large pieces of furniture, artwork and statement light fittings, for example an industrial-style pendant in the main bedroom. ‘You need to fill a big space with big things,’ she says. ‘Playing with scale is fun once you find the courage to do it.
Even in a small room, I try to think big.’
Across the back of the ground floor is an open-plan kitchen-diner that has a more tranquil vibe. Sage-green walls and a painted outdoor table and benches make for a relaxed dining area. ‘We like the fact that the dining area is open plan and, therefore, feels like part of the kitchen,’ says Ruth. ‘It’s a very sociable part of the house. I run my business from home and I sit at the dining table to work.’
Eventually, Ruth and Andy would like to add an extension to the kitchen and make better use of its relationship with the garden. They also plan to change the Shaker-style kitchen units to give the space a more contemporary feel, however, they have no intention of rushing into another phase of building work. ‘Sometimes you have to live with something for a while to understand its faults and potential, and that’s how we feel about the kitchen,’ says Ruth. ‘Fortunately, we have no plans to move from this house, so we have time on our side. The house will evolve at its own pace.’
Ôplaying with scale is fun once you find the courage to do it. Even in a small room, I try to think big’
RUTH PAINTED A CONSOLE AND THE BANNISTERS GREY TO ADD SOME DRAMATIC COLOUR TO THE HALLWAY Console painted in Railings Estate Eggshell, £55 for 2.5ltr, Farrow & Ball
4 Kitchen-diner A COMBINATION OF CALM SAGE-GREEN WALLS AND CREAM SHAKER UNITS CREATES A LAID-BACK FEEL For similar units, try the Shaker Designer, from £3,057 for a kitchen, Wren Kitchens. Titan size 5 pendant light in black, £359, Original BTC
5 Kitchen-diner THE BLACK RANGE COOKER SETS THE TONE FOR A COUNTRY SCHEME, WHILE METAL BAR STOOLS ADD A HINT OF INDUSTRIAL STYLE Puffin Billy tea towel, £12, Martha and Hepsie. For a similar cooker, try the CDL100DFFBL/C, £1,740, Rangemaster range, Ao.com. For a similar stool, try the Shoreditch, £79, Cult Furniture
Get the LOOK
PAGE 76 7 Main bedroom A MIX OF GREY TONES GIVES THIS ROOM AN ENVELOPING FEEL. FLORAL CUSHIONS ADD A HIT OF HAPPY BRIGHT COLOUR Foxtail king-size bed, £725, Button & Sprung. Emaline cushions, £76 each, Boeme Design
10 Girls’ bedroom RUTH HAS USED A LUXURIOUS PATTERNED WALLPAPER ON ONE FEATURE WALL AND PAINTED THE OTHER WALLS TURQUOISE TO MAKE THIS A FUN SPACE FOR THE TWINS Wall painted in Arsenic Estate Emulsion, £39.50 for 2.5ltr, Farrow & Ball. Mariposa wallpaper,
£83 per roll, Christian Lacroix range, Designer Wallpapers. Kallax shelving unit, £39, Ikea