‘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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’