‘we’ve MADE THIS house our own’
Crafty upcycling and bargain buys helped Laurie Reay transform her stop-gap home
Laurie, 33, used cost-effective ideas and clever DIY skills to create a harmonious home
Stylist at Home
Although my husband Ben and i originally chose this house as a stop-gap, we’ve really settled in,’ says Laurie. ‘the area has good schools for our children riley, ruby and Flinn, and we’re near the beach, so it’s perfect.
Before, we owned a two-bedroom house, but it became too small for us. We let it out, so we could rent a larger place for ourselves, but after three years, we sold our previous house and started searching for a new home. To find the space we needed on our budget, I knew we’d be looking for a “do-er upper”.
I wanted a Victorian house because I love their spacious rooms, high ceilings and character. We looked at a few possibilities, but as soon as I walked into this place, I felt sure it was the one. The decor wasn’t for me, but the layout was ideal and the original fireplaces and picture rails really appealed. There was a lot to do, though. The kitchen was quite basic but neutral, so we knew it could be updated easily, but the dark carpets, heavy colours and loud patterned wallpapers had to go.
Ben and I are both pretty hands-on and we’ve done nearly all the work ourselves, which saved huge amounts of money. We stripped the flowery wallpaper in the living room almost straightaway, and pulled up the old carpet, as I was going to paint the floorboards underneath. Unfortunately, I found concrete instead of wood at one end of the room so we ended up laying a new carpet on that part. We also needed to lay new hall flooring, as there was just
concrete underneath the grotty vinyl. I wanted to use the original boards wherever possible, and as the living room ones were in good condition, we sanded and varnished them. The bedroom floors are all painted white. They have a few nail marks and dents, and with day-to-day life, they get a bit bashed, but for me, that’s part of the look. Nothing in my home is too perfect and that makes it very easy to live here. With three young children, it’s a good idea to keep things simple and relaxed.
Light and feminine was the feel I wanted to achieve in my home. The walls are mostly painted plain white, which is cost-effective, and very easy to touch up if needed. I love pinks though, and I’ve got lots of painted furniture in pastels, off-whites and greys.
Pale shades can really lift the rooms, although it took four or five coats of white paint to cover some of the very deep wall colours. The bathroom walls were strong teal green with yellow gloss woodwork. Changing them to gentle taupe and clean, matt white has made a massive difference to the light and sense of space.
We couldn’t afford to do much to the kitchen, but luckily the floor and wall tiles were plain and neutral and I’ve painted the cabinets. They were an uninspiring, wood effect and I’ve primed and painted them in pale grey, and then varnished on top. They’re hardwearing and quick to clean, and it all looks much brighter.
I don’t really have a fixed style – it’s all a bit eclectic and mismatched, and I often move stuff about. I like pretty pieces and an aged, weathered look, and we have a lot of second-hand items that I’ve restored and painted. Car-boot sales are brilliant places to browse and buy furniture and the kids enjoy them as much as Ben and I do,
we often find amazing treasures. i go for attractive shapes and interesting details, and i’m not put off if something’s a bit damaged, i’ll just try to fix it rather than discard it. Paint can totally transform a tired old piece of furniture, and if you can manage some basic upholstery, too, it really does make all the difference.
i’ve found some incredible deals online as well. The living room mantel shelf was a fantastic buy and has become one of my favourite features in the house. it was originally a complete fire surround, and cost £20 on ebay. When we got it here, it was gorgeous, but it didn’t fit the fireplace. After some thought, i realised we could cut the uprights off and just use the top as a mantel shelf. it’s very decorative and all my candles and lanterns look lovely around it – it really makes the room.
We’ve got three bedrooms, so riley and Flinn share a room, which is fine for the moment. As the children get older, we may think about moving house, although we do have a massive attic that could be converted into a lovely fourth bedroom. if we ever did decide to leave this house, i think i’d find it quite difficult to move out. We’ve made it just how we want it and have put so much of ourselves into it.
We didn’t have much diy experience to begin with, but we’ve learnt so much as we’ve gone along, and picked up vital information and skills from watching online video tutorials. There aren’t many tasks we wouldn’t tackle ourselves now. i’m really proud of what we’ve achieved in this house, especially as we fitted it all around our family and our jobs.’ See inspiring house tour videos and ideas at housetohome.co.uk/ styleathome