Hav­ing be­come dis­il­lu­sioned with the look of his Hamp­shire home, this owner called for help


Hav­ing to­tally re­mod­elled a hid­den gem of a prop­erty in an idyl­lic coastal lo­ca­tion, in­stead of fall­ing in love with his new-look home, Steve Bird be­gan toy­ing with the idea of put­ting it back on the mar­ket. ‘It was very frus­trat­ing,’ says Steve. ‘I had in­vested an in­cred­i­ble amount of ef­fort into sen­si­tively ren­o­vat­ing my wa­ter­side find. How­ever, it seemed that with ev­ery lick of pale-grey paint, the cot­tage be­came an in­creas­ingly soul­less se­ries of bland rec­tan­gles.’

Steve first stum­bled upon a pic­turesque har­bour town in Hamp­shire sev­eral years ago when he kept a yacht at a lo­cal boat­yard. ‘I’ve spent a lot of time in this beau­ti­ful area, so when I de­cided to re­lo­cate, it was a nat­u­ral place to start house-hunt­ing,’ says Steve. As luck would have it, while out for a stroll along the banks of the town’s his­toric mill pond, Steve no­ticed a For Sale sign on an at­trac­tive pe­riod house he had of­ten ad­mired.

Af­ter con­tact­ing the es­tate agent to set up a view­ing, Steve, who is a sea­soned ren­o­va­tor, re­alised that the prop­erty, with its large cor­ner plot and cap­ti­vat­ing views of the pond, of­fered vast po­ten­tial. ‘It is a lit­tle off the beaten track, but still eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to the har­bour and to a bustling town that’s full of in­de­pen­dent shops, good restau­rants and pubs,’ says Steve.

‘The house was orig­i­nally built as a two-up, two-down for the mill man­ager and his fam­ily. Those links with the past re­ally ap­pealed to me and, from the mo­ment I walked in, I knew that

I needed to take a sen­si­tive ap­proach to the work and en­sure that any changes I made would hon­our the in­tegrity of the prop­erty.’

Soon af­ter buy­ing the house, plan­ning per­mis­sion was granted to re­con­fig­ure the lay­out to cre­ate a more stream­lined home with a con­tem­po­rary porch and an open-plan kitchen-diner and sit­ting area on the ground floor. On the first floor, a jum­ble of five bed­rooms with Jack-and-jill bath­rooms, were re­jigged into three bed­rooms, one bath­room and two en-suite shower rooms.

With Steve’s trusted team of builders on board, the house was stripped back to brick, be­fore a ma­jor six-month trans­for­ma­tion project com­menced. ‘Although the builders and ar­chi­tect did a fan­tas­tic job, the end re­sult was a house that felt a lit­tle sparse,’ says Steve. ‘Ev­ery room felt in­dis­tin­guish­able. I knew that I needed to bring it to life but was strug­gling to find in­spi­ra­tion.’

Even­tu­ally, Steve hit upon the idea of con­tact­ing an in­te­rior de­signer to help with the house’s decor. ‘My on­line re­search proved in­valu­able,’ says Steve. ‘As soon as I read Emma Painter’s mis­sion state­ment, I made my SOS call.’ Hav­ing met Steve for an ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion, the in­te­rior de­signer leapt into ac­tion in a bid to save the day. ‘From our first meet­ing, I re­alised that hav­ing chan­nelled

les­son learnt‘ If you have lost your way, con­sider ask­ing for help from an ex­pe­ri­enced in­te­rior de­signer that you click with, and don’t be afraid to be brave’

so much en­ergy into re­design­ing the house, Steve could no longer see the wood for the trees,’ says Emma. ‘He ex­plained that many of the rooms felt un­invit­ing and lacked char­ac­ter.’

Fired up by her brief to cre­ate a sim­ple yet stylish con­tem­po­rary home full of per­son­al­ity, and to make more sense of the spa­ces, Emma be­gan de­sign­ing mood boards. ‘The house needed to be a sanc­tu­ary where Steve could to­tally relax,’ Emma says. ‘I wanted to in­tro­duce light and shade. I knew that lay­er­ing each space with colour, tex­ture and pat­tern would work re­ally well.’ Since Steve fre­quently sails in and around Corfu, Emma was keen to in­tro­duce an evoca­tive pal­ette of coastal colours, in­spired by the pale pinks and or­anges of stun­ning sun­sets and myr­iad blue hues of the crys­tal-clear Io­nian Sea. ‘I was re­ally im­pressed with the way she in­ter­preted my pas­sion for sail­ing and love of mid-cen­tury mod­ern de­sign,’ says Steve. ‘Noth­ing was ever too much trou­ble. In the midst of ev­ery­thing, I de­cided to buy a Vizsla puppy, but Emma took that curve ball in her stride and deftly tweaked the de­sign to ac­com­mo­date Ruby’s ar­rival. I couldn’t be more de­lighted with the fin­ished house – it is un­recog­nis­able from the prop­erty I bought. It’s fi­nally some­where I feel very proud to call home.’

sit­ting area a rich, blue colour scheme with warm ac­cents, com­bined with com­fort­able seat­ing and a wood­burn­ing stove, make this space feel cosy and invit­ing. Linie De­sign Aca­cia blue rug, £ 459; Vi­tra Noguchi cof­fee ta­ble, £1,490; try the Rich­mond two-seater sofa, £1,799, all Heal’s

HALL ‘i wanted this space to be a proper en­trance with a wel­com­ing feel, rather than a con­fus­ing jum­ble of doors,’ says in­te­rior de­signer emma. Wall drawer unit with key drawer in cherry wood, de­signed by Emma Painter In­te­ri­ors and made by Arun­del Be­spoke, price on re­quest. PY22 leather lounge chair, £ 459.90, Pri­vate­floor

Kitchen a panel of strik­ing geo­met­ric wall­pa­per was used to add depth and a touch of colour. Ligna Hive wall­pa­per, £39.78lin m, Arte. Walls painted in Soft Chin­chilla Aura Matte, £25 for 1L, Ben­jamin Moore. For al­ter­na­tive bar stools, try the Te­ora, £109 each, Danetti

SIT­TING ROOM ‘This rarely used space has come into its own since Emma sug­gested us­ing open shelves to cre­ate sep­a­rate zones for re­lax­ing and read­ing,’ says Steve. tri­fid wall­pa­per, £76 a roll, os­borne & Lit­tle. try French Con­nec­tion’s par­quet cof­fee ta­ble, £385

MAIN BED­ROOM Soft fur­nish­ings in blush pink and coral hues help to soften the grey tones in this scheme. Cush­ions in Fi­amma red fab­ric, £136m, Mar­vic tex­tiles. Silk bed­spread, from £230, Soak & Sleep

BATH­ROOM Wall­pa­per in a fo­liage de­sign gives this space a sense of bring­ing the out­side in. Deco Palm wall­pa­per, £85 a roll, Cole & Son. try the Kate free­stand­ing bath, £399.99, the Cruze free­stand­ing bath tap with shower mixer, £199.95, Vic­to­rian Plumb­ing, would work

LAND­ING Pic­tures hung in a gallery style make a bold fea­ture wall. Pho­to­graphs framed by har­bour Fram­ing. os­borne & Lit­tle Mo­jito cush­ion in Man­darin & Ivory, £165, In­dian ocean

CLOAK­ROOM A quirky mir­ror adds a nau­ti­cal feel. Melody Mai­son’s sil­ver metal port­hole mir­ror, £ 44.95, is sim­i­lar. wall painted in Province blue Aura Matte, £25 for 1L, ben­jamin Moore

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