‘our gor­geous House used to be Stu­dent digs’

Un­der the hand of Pip, 33, a dingy for­mer univer­sity crash pad has grad­u­ated into a mod­ern, char­ac­ter-filled home

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Pip Ley­land gave her old univer­sity home a first-class makeover

We’ve owned our house since 2014, but it’s been in the fam­ily since nicky and i were at art col­lege to­gether in bris­tol,’ says Pip. ‘over the years, it’s been rented by nu­mer­ous friends and fam­ily mem­bers, and at one point, six of us were liv­ing here to­gether, so it has seen quite a mix of tastes and styles. When nicky and i de­cided to buy it as our first home, we knew it was go­ing to take a lot of hard work to change it from a stu­dent pad to the gor­geous home we dreamed of.

My par­ents had first bought the prop­erty in 2001, as a stu­dent house for my­self and my sis­ter, who had just fin­ished univer­sity, and it was in a real state. All the orig­i­nal Vic­to­rian fea­tures had been ripped out or cov­ered up. A boiler cup­board in the back bed­room com­pletely cov­ered the win­dow and there was poly­styrene cladding on all the ceil­ings. The front room had been rented out as a bed­room and the liv­ing room in the mid­dle of the house was split into two, so we couldn’t even fit a sofa in. Also, the small box room could only be ac­cessed via the back bed­room.

Luck­ily, by the time we bought it from my par­ents two years ago, they had al­ready re­placed the ceil­ings and skimmed all the walls, plus added a rear ex­ten­sion to cre­ate a bath­room and util­ity area. It meant we didn’t need to do much work, apart from putting our own stamp on the place.

De­cid­ing on decor

Both Nicky and my­self have very strong opin­ions on dec­o­ra­tion and colour, so choos­ing a pal­ette was a long process. We lived with var­i­ous ideas for a while be­fore com­mit­ting, to make sure we were

both happy with the re­sults. My ideas are of­ten in­flu­enced by travel and at the mo­ment I’m in­spired by Mex­ico, af­ter an amaz­ing hol­i­day we had there. That said, I do try to not go over­board with themes, as some styles can date very quickly.

All change

First of all, we got builders to flip the stairs from the en­trance cor­ri­dor to the mid­dle room on the other side of the house, which was ac­tu­ally far eas­ier than we had imag­ined. They took the orig­i­nal stair­case out in one day and we used a lad­der to get up­stairs while they prepped the walls. The new stair­case ar­rived as a whole piece the next day, and was easy to in­stall. The re­sult was that we could ex­tend the sec­ond-floor cor­ri­dor, giv­ing us ac­cess to the back box room. It’s now a third bed­room, which Nicky also uses as a home of­fice.

The dated kitchen cup­board doors and work­sur­faces were the next to go. Years of stu­dent par­ties and a lack of chop­ping boards had taken their toll, but we had to work within a bud­get. Luck­ily, a good friend had con­tacts with a Co­rian sup­plier and with Nicky work­ing in the tile busi­ness, we man­aged to make the kitchen look high-end at a very rea­son­able price. Sim­ple white cup­board doors com­pleted the look and a lick of black­board paint on the back wall added a touch of fun.

So­cial space

Next, we de­cided to turn the mid­dle room into a din­ing room. We love to en­ter­tain, and both our fam­i­lies visit reg­u­larly, so it made sense to cre­ate a large open-plan kitchen-diner, so we could talk to our guests while cook­ing. Luck­ily, the kitchen wall had al­ready been re­moved by the pre­vi­ous own­ers, so we lev­elled the floor, which had been a weird two-tiered wooden struc­ture, and we added a break­fast bar to make the kitchen and

din­ing area feel con­nected. a friend gave us a cou­ple of boxes of brick faces that were per­fect to tile the in­side walls of the fire­place and i sanded and waxed a piece of re­claimed wood for the sur­round. a tile sam­ple fin­ished the look.

We de­cided to put floor­boards down, which i love, be­cause although they look ex­pen­sive, they were ac­tu­ally from b&q’s cheaper range, as were the fish­er­man lights above the din­ing table. nicky then put up some shelves in the al­cove.

With the main so­cial­is­ing space fin­ished, we then turned the down­stairs bed­room into a liv­ing room. it just needed a new car­pet and fur­nish­ings – the sofa was a mas­sive sav­ing as we chose a dis­con­tin­ued line from a next show­room, and i made most of the cush­ions my­self.

Down to DIY

We dec­o­rated the house ourselves and upcycled most of the fur­ni­ture us­ing bar­gains found on the in­ter­net. nicky made the shelves in the bath­room out of plumber’s pip­ing and matt black paint, af­ter i saw a sim­i­lar thing on Pin­ter­est. i made the tri­an­gle shelves and the con­crete side table in our bed­room and then, us­ing some spray paint and vinyl palm leaves, i upcycled what was a tatty piece of fur­ni­ture from ebay into the funky cock­tail bar in the corner of the din­ing room.

af­ter a lick of paint in the bed­rooms and a new car­pet laid up­stairs, the hard work was done. all in all, it took us about 18 months to achieve our look, but i love know­ing how much this house has changed over the years. and my friends, who have lived here in the past, can’t be­lieve the trans­for­ma­tion, ei­ther!’

win­ter warmer ‘i filled the empty fire­place with fairy lights and can­dles to give the room a cosy feel’

cre­ative Up­cy­cling ‘nicky made the din­ing table from old scaf­fold planks, which i then sanded and waxed’

wheely clever ‘i soaked the cas­tors on my ebay drinks trol­ley in cola to get the rust off – it worked won­ders!’

table Plan ‘I eas­ily up­dated this con­sole in the din­ing room by painting it a pale shade of grey’

colour con­fi­dent ‘This wall paint works re­ally well – although it’s dark, it feels cosy’

Fin­ish­ing touch. ‘I painted the bed and the pots with cop­per spray paint for an up-to-the-minute look’

stylish stor­age ‘I got these wire bas­kets on ebay and lined them’

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