‘we brought it back to life’

Emily, 26, and fi­ancž Tom, 30, worked their magic on a run-down old cot­tage, giv­ing it a strik­ing new look

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Emily Duffield and her fi­ancé Tom in­jected a youth­ful feel into a tired liv­ing room

As soon as we walked into this cot­tage, we could see how much po­ten­tial it had,’ says Emily. ‘It was go­ing to be a huge project, but with both Tom and I work­ing in in­te­ri­ors, we knew we could rise to the chal­lenge.

We bought this house af­ter liv­ing in a rented prop­erty for just un­der two years and, with a view to start­ing a fam­ily here, we wanted to make our mark as soon as pos­si­ble. Af­ter get­ting en­gaged on a mini break in Venice re­cently, we de­cided we wanted the house to be fin­ished be­fore the wed­ding, which spurred us on even more.

Adding colour

When we first moved into the cot­tage, the decor was very neu­tral, but my favourite room, the liv­ing room, had a very loud wall­pa­per. While the rest of the house was taste­ful and sim­ple, the liv­ing room felt over­pow­er­ing and lacked en­ergy, so we set to work on choos­ing a colour­ful fea­ture wall­pa­per to brighten the space and in­ject some soul into the room.

Work­ing in mar­ket­ing for an in­te­ri­ors com­pany has al­lowed me to pick up ideas and in­spi­ra­tion, and I of­ten cre­ate de­sign con­cepts and mood­boards. Our style is quite retro Ð we love mixing geo­met­ric shapes and quirky an­gles with pat­terned soft fur­nish­ings Ð so we were de­lighted to find this Etta wall­pa­per by Villa Nova.

Bal­anc­ing the bud­get

I wanted the liv­ing-room scheme to feel invit­ing and homely, but we were on quite a tight bud­get with it be­ing our first step on the prop­erty lad­der, so we had to do lots of the work our­selves. Tom and I pa­pered the fea­ture wall and I made some cush­ions out of fab­rics from Villa Nova Ð we went for con­tem­po­rary pat­terns in pinks, blues and mus­tards to tie in with the wall­pa­per and com­bined them with some pas­tel-coloured cush­ions we al­ready had.

We did­nõt have a huge bud­get for a lot of ac­ces­sories, but we did at least want to in­vest in some high-qual­ity pieces of fur­ni­ture to make the space as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble. We found our so­fas at

‘Choose pas­tel shades as the per­fect part­ner to pale grey and nat­u­ral wood’

Barker & Stone­house – we love the ta­pered wooden legs and retro look. Next, we bought oak fur­ni­ture with legs that mir­ror those on the so­fas. The cur­tains, from Hil­larys, also echo both the sofa colour and the grey in the wall­pa­per, which means ev­ery­thing works re­ally well to­gether.

I love quirky items, so as well as buy­ing from high-street shops, I like to scour the in­ter­net or make things my­self. Some of my favourite finds are our framed prints by Vicky Somerville. It’s great to have art on your walls, even if they’re just prints!

Mak­ing a house a home

Al­though it’s been a long process, we’re so glad we bought our old cot­tage. It re­quired some much-needed TLC, but the bare bones of an in­cred­i­ble home were al­ways there and we’re so happy that we could re­alise its po­ten­tial. I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in trans­form­ing a house by build­ing on its char­ac­ter and that’s just what we’ve done with our cot­tage.’

RETRO COOL ‘The at­mos­phere in the liv­ing room was dark and dreary, so I bright­ened it up with this stand­out Etta wall­pa­per in Mal­low from Villa Nova’

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