‘I knew it was a PER­FECT HOME’

New DIY skills, an eye for a bar­gain and a love of coun­try style helped Sharon, 37, cre­ate a fam­ily home for the fu­ture

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With two young chil­dren, we were run­ning out of space in our old twobed­room bun­ga­low,’ says Sharon. ‘So in 2008, my part­ner Co­bie and I started house hunt­ing. I’d hoped to find some­where with a gar­den and the po­ten­tial to ex­tend, so we could have a fam­ily home to grow old in.

We looked at quite a few op­tions, but I fell in love with this place on the spot. It’s in a lovely, quiet po­si­tion, close to the beach. The price was right and, im­por­tantly, there was plenty of room to build an ex­ten­sion at one side. I could see it was a real op­por­tu­nity, but Co­bie wasn’t sure at all, as the house had been empty for about two years and needed a huge amount of work. It was so damp and musty, there was ivy grow­ing in­side! It had a very ba­sic kitchen, a tiny liv­ing room and a tatty bath­room down­stairs, three bed­rooms up­stairs, and gar­ish colours and loud wall­pa­pers ev­ery­where. Still, I man­aged to con­vince Co­bie it was the right choice.

Build­ing be­gins

We started work on the house the day we got the keys. As we’d sold our bun­ga­low, and as the house wasn’t re­ally hab­it­able, we moved into a car­a­van nearby. We’d never tack­led any­thing like this be­fore, but we planned to learn on the job and do as much as pos­si­ble ourselves. My dad, who’s very handy, re­ally helped us out.

The first task was knock­ing through the kitchen and small liv­ing room, so we could turn it into a prac­ti­cal kitchen-diner. The whole room was rewired and re­plas­tered, and we chose new kitchen units and floor tiles. Up­stairs a new bath­room was in­stalled and the bed­rooms re­dec­o­rated.

Mov­ing up

Adding the two-storey ex­ten­sion was a big part of the project. A lo­cal ar­chi­tect drew up plans for a new liv­ing room with a large bed­room above, to be added to one side of the house. The de­sign was very

straight­for­ward, but we ran into prob­lems with the builder, so Co­bie and my dad fin­ished the job them­selves. They both put in long hours in the evenings and week­ends, fit­ting the work around their jobs, and in­cred­i­bly, we were able to move in af­ter just four months.

The ex­ten­sion, kitchen and bath­room were more or less com­plete, but we still had masses of painting and plenty of fin­ish­ing touches left to do. I was ex­pect­ing our third child by this point, but that didn’t stop me get­ting stuck in, as I couldn’t wait to start decorating our home.

Per­sonal style

My look is a mix of mod­ern coun­try, with shabby chic and ele­ments of French and Scandi style, but it all seems to work to­gether. I like things to have a lived-in style and feel homely and friendly. Our kitchen, for ex­am­ple, has quite a rus­tic edge. Co­bie pre­ferred wooden cab­i­nets

‘Dis­play flow­ers in teacups and jugs, or hang fab­ric hearts and Dried herbs on a sim­ple wooden peg rail for an in­stant coun­try vibe’

and I was keener on the painted look, so we’ve in­cluded some of each. I’ve got tongue-and-groove wall pan­elling, ging­ham checks and flo­rals, mismatched fur­ni­ture and lots of pretty ac­ces­sories and crock­ery. The kitchen units and floor­ing were new, but most other items are sec­ond­hand. If I see some­thing I want, I’ll buy it, even if I’m not sure where it’ll go.

Blank can­vas

A lot of pieces are from house clear­ances, an­tiques fairs or on­line sites, and I can’t re­sist a car-boot sale. I like to move stuff around, and I of­ten sell pieces so I’ve got money and space for a new item.

Decorating the liv­ing room was a chal­lenge. It’s quite large with sev­eral win­dows, and it took me a while to get the bal­ance right. Co­bie and our son fit­ted the floor­ing and built the fire­place, which gave the room the fo­cal point it needed. I painted the walls white at first but it

felt quite stark, so I chose an el­e­gant Laura Ashley wall­pa­per – it gives the room quite a grown-up feel. I love the de­sign, but I’ve found that wall­pa­per can be a bit re­stric­tive. Plain walls are more flex­i­ble if, like me, you en­joy chang­ing things around.

Do it ourselves

Wher­ever pos­si­ble, we’ve tack­led the DIY, and upcycled or made things from scratch. Co­bie’s re­ally prac­ti­cal and he’s fit­ted tiles and tongue-and-groove pan­els, and made beau­ti­ful wooden peg rails for the kitchen. A while ago, he built a util­ity room at the back of the house, us­ing a left­over kitchen work­top and a re­claimed sink and win­dow.

I’ve painted the walls, floors and fur­ni­ture and taught my­self up­hol­stery. I love sew­ing, so I’ve made lamp­shades and cush­ions and I’ve now started sell­ing hand­made home­wares through my own on­line busi­ness, Whites and Vi­o­lets. We also re­cently re­uphol­stered and painted

our new French bed. It was a bar­gain at £300 from a lo­cal an­tiques place and I loved the curvy shape but not the dark­wood frame or red vel­vet up­hol­stery. We painted the frame, then re­uphol­stered it, with Co­bie pulling the new fab­ric taut, while I wielded the sta­ple gun! It was a team ef­fort, with great re­sults, and it has saved us a small fortune.

We’ve been here sev­eral years now, and I’ve learnt plenty of new skills. I’m al­ways look­ing to im­prove our home. I love up­dat­ing and repo­si­tion­ing the fur­ni­ture to re­fresh the look, so I never get bored. I was hop­ing we’d find our for­ever home, and this is def­i­nitely it.’

‘try tongue-and-groove pan­elling for a rus­tic, coun­try feel, or to disguise walls that are less than per­fect’

Sub­tle Shades. ‘The dresser is two sep­a­rate sec­ond­hand pieces painted in slightly dif­fer­ent tones’

Style tip ‘Don’t be afraid of white so­fas – my cov­ers are wash­able so they can eas­ily with­stand fam­ily life’ Shelf life. ‘The liv­ing room is one of my favourite spa­ces. Co­bie fit­ted the solid-oak floor­ing, which is from B&Q. He also made the shelf above the fire­place from an old sleeper and I dressed it with wooden stars from Mata­lan’

So­cial Space. ‘We knocked two rooms into one to make the kitchendiner and now we use this part of the house all the time’

pale pal­ette ‘I painted the kitchen walls in Du­lux’s Time­less, and Farrow & Ball’s Pale Pow­der. The colours make a gen­tle back­drop for all my mismatched crock­ery’

Bar­gain. hunter. ‘The tiles be­hind the oven were a car-boot sale find – I bought a box­ful for £5’

Beau­ti­ful. Bath­room. ‘I went for a very tra­di­tional Bath­store suite, and placed the tub un­der the win­dow for a ho­tel feel’

re­lax­ing space ‘i’ve com­bined Pale Eau de nil paint from laura ashley and home­base’s drift­wood on the bed­room walls, for a warm, tran­quil ef­fect’ Great Idea ‘Re­uphol­ster an an­tique bed so it matches your colour scheme’

Won­der of White. ‘the chest and wardrobe were or­ange pine, but painting them made all the dif­fer­ence’

sweet shades. ‘the pink cup­board in sum­mer’s room was a fab find in a house­clear­ance shop’

in the Pink ‘in Pixie’s room, i’ve treated the floor with di­luted white emul­sion, to show the wood grain’

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