‘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

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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.

Stu­dio space

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


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.

Think­ing ‘stor­age’

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’

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