'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
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.
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.
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’