‘we bought a Friend’s house’ Heather’s pal came to her aid with an Edwardian property in Essex
Heather’s property woes were solved by a well-known workmate who had heard that she was desperate to move
When my partner Michael and i first moved in together we lived in his flat in sudbury, suffolk,’ says heather. ‘But we really wanted a house with a garden and hoped we’d have a child someday, so we started to look for a new home in nearby Cambridge. But it was so pricey that we could only afford a one-bedroom flat there, so we had to think again.
I was teaching graphic design in Colchester at the time, and we began looking around that area, and found we could afford a house there more easily. We were focussing on a particular part of Colchester which is known for having plenty of period properties with nice details, but after we lost some lovely properties that we’d set our hearts on, we were at the end of our tether.
At the time, I worked with fellow lecturer Lucy Tiffney, who is now a well-known designer with her own design business (lucytiffney.com) following her appearance on BBC TV’S The Great Interior Design Challenge. One day in spring 2013 we were dejectedly driving around the streets I wanted to live in, when Lucy saw us and flagged down our car. She said she’d heard we were looking for a house in the area, and asked if we’d like to buy hers! She was itching to move to a bigger one round the corner, but hadn’t yet sold her own.
We thought we had nothing to lose and got out to look. The house was exactly what we wanted: a good size, with a loft conversion, but in need of renovation. We bought it at a fair price and moved in during June of that year.
Onwards and upwards
The basic kitchen was fine, but we wanted to put our own stamp on it, so
we re-tiled the walls, got some new appliances and bought a solid wooden table and bench for entertaining.
Michael and I are very into design – we both trained in graphics – but we have slightly different kinds of ideas, so it has been a case of finding a way of marrying our varied tastes.
I tend to be slightly more classic and subtle in my use of colours, while Michael loves bright, vibrant hues, particularly orange. What we end up with is usually a neutral background, with pops of colour, which suits us both. One thing we agree on is being passionate about original artwork and encouraging new artists, and we both love funky artworks with words or letters on them. I post my art finds on Instagram @theposygirl, as well as lots of my own design ideas.
Michael works from home, running his own print and design company, exwhyzed.co.uk, so he really needed somewhere separate to work away from the house. But after getting the house
‘LET A ROOM’S STYLE grow ORGANICALLY BY Making A POINT OF NOT Buying ITEMS THAT MATCH’
painted and straight, we gave up the end of our large garden to put up a smart studio. This ate up a big chunk of our renovation budget, at £25,000, but it has improved our work/life balance so much to have given him this spot.
With a baby on the way, we worked hard on the bedroom and nursery until they were sorted, and then put our heads together to think about what we should do with the third bedroom.
As a lot of our friends and family live locally, we don’t have many people staying over, so it seemed silly to make into another bedroom. Particularly as, at a push, we can put people up in Michael’s studio. Instead, we decided to create more of a dressing and storage area in this room, lined with wardrobes
and with a sofabed in case we did ever need it to put someone up. Because the other bedrooms don’t have much storage space, this makes sense for us.
It was tough to decide on the bathroom – we couldn’t find any tiles that inspired us. Then we spotted some we loved in a hotel we were staying at one weekend. They were blue and white patterned tiles, coupled with wood-effect ones – we loved the look so we copied it.
Still to do
In the loft room, we set about making a more cosy, liveable space as it was a pretty basic conversion that we wanted to put our mark on. But in the end our son, Jude, arrived before we could get around to finishing it. So we’re yet to decorate this room. Eventually, we might move up there and put in an en suite, as there’s plenty of space for one, but at the moment we’re happy with our bedroom being on the same floor as Jude’s nursery.
For now, with the rest of the house finished, we’re just enjoying our new home as it is – it feels so right for us all.’
idea to steal ‘Give a white kitchen an industrial twist with metal accentsõ
BRIGHT IDEA ‘We treated ourselves to a light sign by emma Krause at Light up north’
SIMPLE BUT STYLISH ‘We searched for ages for the right table with a bench. This design is by Bethan Gray for John Lewis, with extra chairs from Cult furniture. Michael’s bright orange Muuto lights are from simply Living’
BRIGHTEN It UP ‘The white handleless kitchen was right for us, but we added colour with lighting, artwork and bright, fresh flowers’ take a seat ‘Having a bench means that when we have guests around, it’s easier to sit us all at the table. We use the chairs when it’s just us’