'At last we can En­joy OUR HOME’

After an ar­du­ous ren­o­va­tion, Lot­tie, 34, loves playing with colour, pat­tern and wood­land mo­tifs in her Vic­to­rian semi

Style at Home (UK) - - Victorian Semi -

When I first saw this house on­line, my hus­band Edd and I were ac­tu­ally in the process of buy­ing a dif­fer­ent place,’ says Lot­tie. ‘I know I should have just stopped looking but some­thing wasn’t quite right with the one we in­tended to buy. This house was empty, so you could re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the space and it had lots of gor­geous orig­i­nal Vic­to­rian features, so I knew we could turn it into a beau­ti­ful home. It was ex­actly what I’d wanted, so we put an of­fer in straight­away.

Though the prop­erty had been ren­o­vated we were un­der no il­lu­sion as to the qual­ity of the work done. We knew it would need some changes to im­prove it, such as fresh car­pet­ing and a new bath­room, but we planned to get round to those even­tu­ally.

Dis­as­ter strikes

We soon re­alised that the house was in a worse con­di­tion than we orig­i­nally thought. It was like a cat­a­logue of dis­as­ters, and al­most every week a new prob­lem cropped up – burst water pipes on Christ­mas Day, flood­ing in the down­stairs loo and cel­lar, leaks in the roof and bad wiring, to name a few. The rewiring was still be­ing done while I was in hos­pi­tal hav­ing our el­dest daugh­ter, Molly, 4, and I brought her home to bare plas­ter and ripped-up car­pets.

Our bud­get got eaten up by es­sen­tial and costly re­me­dial works, so all our dec­o­ra­tive plans were shelved. At times, we con­sid­ered just sell­ing the house and mov­ing on. I’m so glad we didn’t, though – five years later, we’ve man­aged to do all the ex­cit­ing things we planned and finally have a home that’s per­fect for our small fam­ily that now includes lit­tle Alice, 3.

Get­ting stuck in

The kitchen was one of my big­gest and most favourite projects, and since we’ve had it done, it’s made more of a dif­fer­ence than I could ever have imag­ined. I spend most of my time in here, cook­ing or

bak­ing cakes, so it’s very im­por­tant to me. The orig­i­nal de­sign had cheap new white glossy units that ran down each side of the room, which meant we had to move across the space to ac­cess var­i­ous items.

There were other prob­lems, too – the old range in the chim­ney breast sounded like an aero­plane tak­ing off when it was in use, and the cold slate floor tiles were a night­mare to keep clean. The new cooker that I wanted wouldn’t fit in the ex­ist­ing lay­out, so I man­aged to con­vince Edd that what we needed was a brand new kitchen. A lo­cal com­pany helped us de­sign the space and to fit solid wood units and com­pos­ite work­tops. Swap­ping one of the doors for a new win­dow al­lowed us to cre­ate a whole new L-shaped lay­out with enough space for the new range.

We didn’t think we could af­ford to change the floor­ing, but at the last minute, we de­cided it was now or never, so Edd spent a very dusty week­end tak­ing up the old floor with a jack ham­mer. We chose Karn­dean’s Van Gogh oak floor­ing, which was one of our best de­ci­sions be­cause it’s prac­ti­cal to clean and warm un­der­foot – some­thing that is es­sen­tial in a house like this, which can get cold eas­ily. We grad­u­ally re­placed the hall, down­stairs loo and snug floors so they all matched and it has re­ally uni­fied the space.

A year later, we could finally af­ford to redo the bath­room, too. Re­mov­ing a cup­board from the cor­ner of the room gave us space for a much-needed sep­a­rate shower and bath. We had to be care­ful with our bud­get, so we sourced all the prod­ucts our­selves, mostly from Bath­store and B&Q, and added char­ac­ter with wall­pa­per, tow­els and ac­ces­sories.

Dec­o­ra­tive in­spi­ra­tion

My job in­volves work­ing across three web­sites – Rock My Wed­ding, Rock My Style and Rock My Fam­ily – which all of­fer a daily dose of in­spi­ra­tion and pret­ti­ness. The only prob­lem is that it has given me

‘if you like to change up your art­work, try slim ledges like the ones we have, which let us swap pic­tures around when­ever we like’

far too many ideas and I find my­self con­stantly want­ing to redo the house!

I’ve never re­ally had the bud­get to dec­o­rate a room com­pletely from scratch, so it tends to evolve over time as I add bits and pieces. Usu­ally, I find a wall­pa­per I like, or a cer­tain colour, and then I take it from there. I’ve learnt not to be afraid of colour. That’s not to say you should paint every wall bright pink, but I do add sub­tle touches of colour in each room and I es­pe­cially love us­ing wall­pa­per to do this. I don’t mind ex­per­i­ment­ing and I’m not wor­ried if things don’t work out, ei­ther. I painted our liv­ing room four times be­fore I was happy – and all within two weeks.

There’s def­i­nitely a theme of an­i­mal pat­terns run­ning through the house. They bring such a sense of fun with­out looking child­like, and also seem to lend them­selves to most rooms in some guise or other. With­out re­al­is­ing, we’ve ended up with them pretty much ev­ery­where.

My go-to shops are John Lewis, which has just about ev­ery­thing I could ever need, and Habi­tat for its fur­ni­ture, light­ing, cush­ions and bed­ding. For the girls’ rooms, I love This Mod­ern Life and Molly Meg for their un­usual and unique pieces.

Time to re­lax

Now ev­ery­thing is done, I like the fact that I can just en­joy be­ing here rather than wor­ry­ing about what jobs are still left to do and al­ways feel­ing like things are un­fin­ished. As much as I love the house and the space, we do plan to move in the next few years. I adore the style and high ceil­ings of Vic­to­rian houses, but Edd would pre­fer a more mod­ern, open-plan home. Although I know we can do it, I don’t think I re­ally want to take on a big project. I think we’ve had enough of that for a while!’

great idea ‘Dress a win­dow with a plain blind to stop a busy scheme looking too clut­tered’ New flow ‘Chang­ing one of the doors to the gar­den into a win­dow meant we could cre­ate a much bet­ter lay­out’

style tip ‘Use a sim­ple dis­play of logs on a hearth to catch the eye‘ her­itage touches ‘We love the orig­i­nal fire­place and built-in cup­boards in this room’

HANDY helper ‘The L-shaped sofa from John Lewis also dou­bles as a bed’

style tip ‘Pick a neu­tral back­drop and add pops of colour from ac­ces­sories so it looks fresh and is eas­ily changed’ stone shades ‘We used Peb­ble shore by dulux on the walls. It’s a re­ally soft, warm grey colour with a brown un­der­tone’

old and new. ‘I like how these an­tique mir­rors con­trast with the mod­ern Mr Fox pa­per by scion’

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