‘I grew up just two doors down’

Lau­ren turned a chal­leng­ing doer-up­per into a chic fam­ily home and be­came neigh­bours with her sis­ter at the same time

Style at Home (UK) - - Sixties Semi -

I’ve lived in this area most of my life and I grew up with my par­ents and sis­ter, Lisa, in one of these houses,’ says Lau­ren. ‘Lisa still lives there with her hus­band and fam­ily, so when I dis­cov­ered the house two doors down was on the mar­ket, I was so ex­cited. I’d al­ways wanted to move back here with my hus­band Kevin. I knew it could be an amaz­ing home for us and I just had to have it.

Kevin never ac­tu­ally viewed the house – he knew it was my dream home, so he was happy to go along with it, but he had quite a shock on mov­ing-in day, when he saw how much work was needed. The house was tired, old-fash­ioned and in a sad state. It had been ex­tended at the back, but just on one side, adding a din­ing room off the sit­ting room. The kitchen was small and very ba­sic, and the bath­room had aw­ful yel­low and black tiled walls. Up­stairs, the bed­rooms were dull and dated. There was a huge amount to do, but I set a bud­get, and a tar­get of a year to get ev­ery­thing fin­ished.

Join­ing things up

I knew from day one that we’d ex­tend the kitchen out­wards to join up with the din­ing room and make a big, open-plan area across the back of the house. We all love spend­ing time to­gether as a fam­ily, so space for adults and chil­dren to con­gre­gate and chill was top of my wish list. I chose an or­angery-style glass roof, so there’s masses of light, plus doors out to the pa­tio. At the same time, we moved the door to the gar­den into the kitchen, so you now have a clear sight­line from the hall right through to the back gar­den. The work wasn’t too dis­rup­tive, as we could still use the old kitchen. Knock­ing through was the fi­nal stage and that

was re­ally ex­cit­ing. It was great see­ing my fab­u­lous new space for the first time.

Bless­ing in dis­guise

I planned the kitchen lay­out my­self and chose ev­ery­thing from a lo­cal com­pany. I wanted deep pan draw­ers, a boil­ing­wa­ter tap and two ovens for en­ter­tain­ing. I thought I’d got a fan­tas­tic deal, but it was ac­tu­ally too good to be true – at the last minute, I found out that the work­tops had been un­der­priced. I had to choose an al­ter­na­tive quickly, and ended up choos­ing dif­fer­ent cup­boards as well, but I’m so glad I did. The cap­puc­cino colour scheme I’d orig­i­nally gone for would have looked re­ally dreary. In­stead, I’ve now got off-white cab­i­nets and gor­geous, sparkly, pale grey work­tops, so it feels so light.

Lots of DIY

Although the kitchen ex­ten­sion was the big­gest project, an up­stairs shower was also one of my must haves, as the only bath­room is down­stairs. We fit­ted a neat lit­tle shower room into the eaves in our daugh­ter Amelia’s bed­room, where

you ‘Dec­o­rate in shades of grey, taupe and cream and can’t go wrong, as Lim­ited colours help cre­ate a sense of flow’


there was just a wasted space be­fore. A plumber in­stalled it, but Kevin and my brother-in-law Andy tack­led the tiling and ev­ery­thing else. To save money, we tried to do as much of the ren­o­va­tion work as we could our­selves. Kevin and I painted and wall­pa­pered, and he laid lam­i­nate floors and built the wood-pan­elled fea­ture wall in the sit­ting room, with Andy’s help. I get lots of in­spi­ra­tion on­line, and I spot­ted that idea on Pin­ter­est when I was look­ing for a way to dis­guise the fire­place. It looks re­ally smart, yet the wood only cost around £200.

Even so, we still went over the orig­i­nal bud­get, and my timescale of a year turned into eigh­teen months. I hadn’t an­tic­i­pated that we’d need to re-wire the house, and we had to get a mod­ern boiler and new win­dows and doors, too. Those were es­sen­tials, but there’s not much to see for the ex­pense.

Neu­tral ter­ri­tory

We brought some fur­ni­ture from our old home, but I’ve re­placed a lot since mov­ing here. The sit­ting room so­fas were a big in­vest­ment, but they’re re­ally comfy and the putty-coloured, linen-type fab­ric is right up my street. Neu­trals are al­ways my go-to palette. I’m not re­ally one for strong colour, but I love all shades of grey, taupe and cream and I tend to stick to those. I think it helps cre­ate a sense of flow from one room to the next.

Style-wise, I’m def­i­nitely tra­di­tional, and I like sym­me­try, clean, sim­ple lines, and strong state­ment items. I’m happy to mix things up, be­cause I want an in­di­vid­ual look, and if some­thing catches my eye,

I’ll get it. There are a few vin­tage pieces and some painted char­ity-shop finds along­side my high-street buys. My favourite shops are Home­sense and Sainsbury’s Home for their fab­u­lous ac­ces­sories, and I source a lot on­line, which is con­ve­nient as I work full time. I’m quite a bar­gain-hunter, so I search the in­ter­net for the best prices, or wait for the sales. My hall wall­pa­per was a half-price deal from Laura Ash­ley, and I usu­ally pick up a few new Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions in Jan­uary when they’re re­duced, and squir­rel them away un­til De­cem­ber.

Fam­ily fes­tiv­i­ties

I ab­so­lutely love Christ­mas and I put fes­tive touches in ev­ery room – even the bath­room! We have a tree in the din­ing room and an­other in the sit­ting room and I like hav­ing a few fun bits and pieces around as well as the more el­e­gant dec­o­ra­tions. We al­ways cel­e­brate with my sis­ter Lisa and all our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, and ev­ery­one loves com­ing here. It’s a real fam­ily home.’

‘Fit a neat lit­tle shower room into the eaves of a bed­room – it’s only wasted space oth­er­wise’

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