‘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.
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.
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.
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’