‘I LOVE A COOL COUN­TRY LOOK’

Mil­lie stripped away the Nineties decor in favour of a more subtle style

Style at Home (UK) - - CONTENTS - Find more tips to cre­ate a vin­tage bed­room by go­ing to pin­ter­est.com/ styleath­omemag

Be­fore I’d even set foot in this house, I knew it was the one I wanted to live in,’ says Mil­lie Master­ton of her Vic­to­rian townhouse in tun­bridge Wells. ‘For­tu­nately, the in­te­rior lived up to the ex­te­rior, with its orig­i­nal fea­tures, light-filled rooms and the fact that it didn’t need much work. I liked that it was hab­it­able as it was so we could move straight in, although it def­i­nitely wasn’t dec­o­rated to my taste.

At the time, we were liv­ing in south­east Lon­don, but I didn’t want my chil­dren, Felic­ity and Ru­pert, to grow up in the city. In­stead, I wanted a lively town within a short com­mute of Lon­don. But de­spite search­ing most of Sur­rey, I’d drawn a blank. Then, while vis­it­ing my best friend in Tun­bridge Wells, I re­alised the town ticked all my boxes – it was ex­actly what I had been look­ing for.

Cre­at­ing calm

The pre­vi­ous owner had painted most of the rooms in a bland mag­no­lia shade, but with gar­ish fea­ture walls, like a chim­ney breast painted a bold blood red. The main bed­room and hall had to be re-plas­tered, as the walls were in very poor con­di­tion, and had been painted so many times that when I stripped the wall­pa­per off, the plas­ter came with it. To achieve a uni­form look through­out the house, I chose a pal­ette of grey and off-white to cre­ate the back­drop for the sim­ple coun­try look I wanted.

Adding per­sonal taste

Next I wanted to tackle the kitchen – and fast! It‘d been dec­o­rated with Nineties yel­low melamine units and che­quer­board-ef­fect yel­low and turquoise wall tiles. It was also prac­ti­cally un­us­able. One work­top was at an an­gle, while the oven was stacked on the other work­top, leav­ing nowhere to pre­pare food. So I

‘when­ever pos­si­ble,com­bine jobs– like up­dat­ing the gut­ter­ing and sof­fits when there’s al­ready scaf­fold­ing up for another job’

got the cup­boards re­placed first, fit­ting the oven into a run of base units. Then a wall was moved so we could straighten the work­top, and an ugly plas­ter fea­ture on the chim­ney breast was ripped off. The door­way to the util­ity was moved over by a brick’s width, and the wash­ing ma­chine moved to the kitchen so I could fill the util­ity with floor-to-ceil­ing cup­boards.

Lack of stor­age was an is­sue through­out the en­tire house, so I cre­ated built-in units in most of the rooms – adding a bench seat in the hall, plus ex­tra cup­boards and shelves in the sit­ting room and Ru­pert’s bed­room. When­ever I buy fur­ni­ture, I make sure to find a piece that in­cor­po­rates some kind of stor­age. Quite of­ten I’ll pick up some­thing sec­ond-hand from a car-boot sale, and then

trans­form it into some­thing more func­tional and multi-pur­pose, or sim­ply re­fresh it to fit my style. In the bath­room, for ex­am­ple, the man­tel mir­ror was a £30 sec­ond-hand buy. It’s steel, prob­a­bly from a pub and in­cred­i­bly heavy. It was cov­ered in coal dust, but once I’d cleaned it up, it re­turned to its orig­i­nal white.

Lofty am­bi­tions

The last ma­jor work I com­pleted was con­vert­ing the loft into an of­fice for my­self. As I work from home one day a week, I needed some­where quiet, as well as space to store the sew­ing ma­te­ri­als for my busi­ness, Ruby & Cus­tard. There was a hatch into the loft above the stairs but it was so tricky get­ting any­thing up there, so I couldn’t ac­tu­ally use it as stor­age,

‘YOUTUBE IS GREAT FOR LEARN­ING HOW TO FIX AND UP­CY­CLE FUR­NI­TURE’

never mind as a workspace. But there were cup­boards back­ing on to each other in both bed­rooms on the sec­ond floor, so I took out one set and ran a stair­case up to the loft from there. I then had Velux win­dows fit­ted and turned the space into a stu­dio. It’s my re­treat where I can get cre­ative and keep all my bits and bobs out of reach of the chil­dren.

I com­bined the loft con­ver­sion with other jobs to make good use of the scaf­fold­ing and, af­ter a chance con­ver­sa­tion with both my neigh­bours, the scaf­fold­ing ended up stretch­ing across all three of our houses so they could also fix a leak­ing chim­ney and add a rear ex­ten­sion. This meant I gained the space for a tiny en-suite off the main bed­room, too, which I wouldn’t have

had if the neigh­bours hadn’t done their ex­ten­sion at the same time. It made it eas­ier it all round, do­ing a three-in-one job, and the builders were fab­u­lous.

Home with heart

While I pre­fer a calm, clut­ter-free, mainly neu­tral in­te­rior most of the time, at Christ­mas I do like to re­ally go for it and add lots more colour and fun dec­o­ra­tions. I try to buy my tree as early in De­cem­ber as pos­si­ble so that I get to en­joy the dec­o­ra­tions through­out the whole month. I’m al­ways so sad to pack them away the first week of Jan­uary, but we do have a tra­di­tion of choos­ing one dec­o­ra­tion to keep up for the rest of the year, which helps with the post-

‘PUT A SPIN ON TRA­DI­TIONAL COUN­TRY STYLE WITH DECA­DENT, OR­NATE DE­TAILS LIKE A FRENCH-STYLE MIR­ROR OR VIN­TAGE VASE’

Christ­mas blues! Last year we chose to keep a grey metal heart out, which we have on dis­play on the win­dowsill above the sink in the kitchen. Heart ac­ces­sories and mo­tifs are a bit of a theme ac­tu­ally, we have a few dot­ted around most of the rooms. I like to think they’re rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the heart and soul I’ve tried to put into ev­ery inch of our home. It’s a good place for us, and has a friendly feel – the chil­dren and I couldn’t be hap­pier here.’

idea to steal ‘Hang a wreath above the fire­place to cre­ate a fes­tive fo­cal pointõ HEARTH And HOME ‘the wood burner, which was al­ready here when I bought the house, adds coun­try-style cosiness to this room’

Hid­den cor­ner ‘I made the most of lit­tle nooks in hall­ways and land­ings by adding ex­tra shelv­ing and stor­age’ PALE And IN­TER­EST­ING ‘To give a clas­sic look a mod­ern twist, I choose tra­di­tional-style fur­ni­ture, like this low-arm sofa, but in a con­tem­po­rary neu­tral colour­way’

‘I picked up the chair cheaply be­cause the leg was dam­aged. If some­thing’s bro­ken, that doesn’t de­ter me. If I don’t know how to fix it, I’ll watch a Youtube video’ BOY ZONE

GOR­GEOUS AND GIR­LIE ‘The wooden rocking chair, in­her­ited from my great un­cle, takes pride of place and I made the bunting from scraps of Cath Kidston and Tilda fab­rics’

‘This lit­tle space in the loft is where I come to es­cape into my sew­ing and cro­chet­ing’ CRAFTY COR­NER

IDEA TO STEAL ‘Pop a table­top tree on a bed­side ta­ble or chest in a kid’s room for a fun touch’

GIDDY UP ‘Joey the rocking horse was mine when I was a child, and now lives in Felic­ity’s colour­ful bed­room’

PER­FECT SHADE ‘As the bed­room is north-fac­ing, nei­ther cream nor grey were right for the walls, but I found Far­row & Ball’s Strong White to be a happy medium’ SPOT OF SPARKLE ‘I bought the chan­de­lier on ebay for £20 but I must have mis­read the size, as I got a real sur­prise when the huge box turned up!’ IDEA TO STEAL ‘Add some grown-up glam­our to a bed­room with a strik­ing chan­de­lier‘

HER­ITAGE STYLE ‘The dress­ing ta­ble was orig­i­nally stained and painted pine, and while it was beau­ti­ful, it just didn’t work in the room, so I bit the bul­let and painted it in Far­row & Ball’s Corn­forth White’

CHECK IT OUT ‘I kept the pre­vi­ous owner’s Vic­to­rian-style roll-top bath and che­quer­board vinyl floor­ing, but soft­ened the look with pale grey walls’

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