‘I high­lighted pe­riod fea­tures’

When Chantelle, 33, moved into her Vic­to­rian home, she was brim­ming with ideas about how. to ac­cen­tu­ate its orig­i­nal de­tails in a con­tem­po­rary way.

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This is the first ever house my hus­band Dar­ren and i bought, hav­ing rented for years in south Lon­don,' says Chantelle. 'We were start­ing to plan for a fam­ily and wanted to find a pretty vil­lage where we could still com­mute to Lon­don.

This par­tic­u­lar road was one we liked a lot, and so we jumped at the op­por­tu­nity when a house came up for sale. With stun­ning kerb appeal and lots of pe­riod fea­tures, we adored its homely feel, de­spite it look­ing a bit unloved and sad in­side.

Honing my ideas

Although I know what I like and dis­like, I wouldn’t say I’m nat­u­rally cre­ative. I like to ex­pand on tried-and-tested ideas I get from Pin­ter­est, in­te­ri­ors mag­a­zines and the homes I visit. I’ve also learnt not to as­sume that buy­ing an ex­pen­sive item is the best so­lu­tion, as there are lots of clever things you can do by up­cy­cling fur­ni­ture and old pieces. But hav­ing said all that, I still some­times lack the con­fi­dence to put my ideas into prac­tice, and felt that in our new home I needed some ex­pert ad­vice.

Help is at hand

I con­tacted a lo­cal in­te­rior de­signer, Claire Gar­ner, and told her I wanted to add new twists but high­light the orig­i­nal fea­tures. She was bril­liant and helped me to work out the best use of space, to plan the lay­out of fur­ni­ture, de­velop the colour pal­ette for each space and source the fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories, too.

Hav­ing told Claire that I wanted an el­e­gant and feminine style with an in­dus­trial edge, she came up with mood boards that com­bined wood, cop­per ac­cents and blue wall tones. These soft back­drops meant we could use ac­ces­sories to add flashes of vary­ing colour to ev­ery room, so each one had its own char­ac­ter yet still felt con­nected to the rest of

the house. The great thing about us­ing colour in this way is that if I ever get bored with the look, it’s sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive to rein­vent it or up­date it with some brandnew ac­ces­sories. Hir­ing a de­signer made the whole process fun and stress-free.

The big­gest pri­or­ity

Our liv­ing room was the first space we wanted to change. I was des­per­ate for some­where to re­lax and un­wind in the evening and this long, nar­row room felt dark and un­invit­ing. It had orig­i­nally been two sep­a­rate rooms that had been knocked through, but the old floor­boards and fire­places were still in­tact.

The most im­por­tant fac­tor in this room was that we wanted plenty of seat­ing with­out it feel­ing clut­tered, so Claire sug­gested build­ing a love seat into the bay win­dow, rather than squeez­ing in a cou­ple of arm­chairs. Prac­ti­cal stor­age was cre­ated un­der­neath it and a feather-and-foam seat pad was made for the top, along with large colour co­or­di­nated cush­ions, which make you want to sink right back into the seat.

Dar­ren came up with the idea of hav­ing space-sav­ing shelves in the al­coves, so Claire set about de­sign­ing some be­spoke so­lu­tions for the space. This in­cluded an un­usual di­ag­o­nal shelf for a con­tem­po­rary twist. I love stor­ing our fire­wood here as it feels fun and un­ex­pected.

The din­ing space at the other end of the room came to­gether the mo­ment I found the table at a pre-loved fur­ni­ture shop. I up­dated it with Rust-oleum chalk paint, and I also painted the pen­dant light above to tie it in with the table and chairs. I think the whole liv­ing area works re­ally well – it looks stun­ning and suits all our fam­ily needs down to the ground.

Find­ing so­lu­tions

The hall was an­other chal­leng­ing nar­row space as it was long, badly lit and felt very un­wel­com­ing. It des­per­ately needed an in­jec­tion of per­son­al­ity but it wasn’t

wide enough for con­ven­tional fur­ni­ture. We got in­ven­tive with an old sec­ond­hand table and cut it in half to cre­ate a shelf, mak­ing it nar­row enough so that it wouldn’t in­fringe on the space but with enough sur­face area to take a lamp. We put a mir­ror above it and then painted the back of the front door turquoise for some make-you-smile colour.

As well as the chal­lenge of plan­ning nar­row rooms ef­fec­tively, we had to de­sign Luke’s nurs­ery to in­cor­po­rate part of the stair­case built into his room. The pre­vi­ous own­ers had built a dou­ble bed base over it but that didn’t work for us. We had to care­fully re­move the bed with­out dis­turb­ing the stair­case and then think about how to con­vert it into some­thing use­ful. We boxed it in and made a handy chang­ing table for Luke that we can turn into cup­boards when he’s older.

Beau­ti­ful blues

The big­gest suc­cess has been cre­at­ing a flow through the house. Each room com­ple­ments the next as the dif­fer­ent shades of blue con­nect the schemes. My favourite space is the mas­ter bed­room – it’s so serene. I can lie in bed and watch the horses graz­ing in the fields op­po­site.

The bath­room has also had a sim­ple, yet amaz­ingly ef­fec­tive, mini makeover. We picked a rich blue wall colour and it works so well with the el­e­gant roll-top bath.

Our next project will be some­thing I’ve been dy­ing to do since we moved in. Be­cause the kitchen and break­fast area is poky, we plan to ex­tend into the side re­turn and cre­ate a spa­cious kitchen-diner that links through to the liv­ing room. We’re busy at the ar­chi­tect and de­sign stage just now, and we’re get­ting re­ally ex­cited about how the fin­ished re­sult will turn out.

great idea A fluffy rug by the love seat cre­ates an ex­tra layer of com­fort

cut­ting. cor­ners. ‘Our di­ag­o­nal shelf adds a mod­ern edge and it’s ideal for stor­ing fire­wood’

And, re­lax.... ‘af­ter care­ful plan­ning, we trans­formed the nar­row, dark liv­ing room into a light and so­cia­ble fam­ily space, with plenty of comfy seat­ing and stor­age’

RUS­TIC CHARM. ‘Tin ac­ces­sories with a coun­try feel com­ple­ment the farm­house-style sink and wooden work­tops’ PIC­TURE IT. ‘A photo gallery and wall letters give the hall a play­ful feel’ GREAT IDEA ‘I’m short of space in the kitchen so I’ve hung my big­ger pans on ceil­ing hooks’

GET COSY ‘A rich, blue throw picks up on the orig­i­nal blue tiles of the fire sur­round and adds warmth to this cool scheme’ great idea ‘Go for or­nate French-style bed­side cab­i­nets to make a funky state­ment’

CHILL OUT ‘We went for a tran­quil look in the bed­room to match the view’

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