‘it fi­nally feels like our home’

Agi’s dated ter­race is now a bright and vi­brant fam­ily home

Style at Home (UK) - - INSIDE -

Al­though in­cor­rectly ad­ver­tised by the es­tate agents as a “well-pre­sented prop­erty” (it couldn’t have been fur­ther from the truth), we were still charmed,’ says Agi. ‘And de­spite a builder friend ad­vis­ing us to walk away, we were so ex­cited, or, if we’re hon­est, des­per­ate, to buy our first house that we went for it any­way.

It was gen­er­ous in size, par­tic­u­larly com­pared to oth­ers we’d viewed within our bud­get, and we could see end­less po­ten­tial for it to be­come a happy fam­ily home. We weren’t ig­no­rant to the fact that it’d take a long time – not to men­tion a lot of work and money – to whip it into shape and make it work for us, but we gladly ac­cepted the chal­lenge.

Decor re­fresh

When we moved in, the house had an im­prac­ti­cal lay­out and looked rather unloved. As a Vic­to­rian prop­erty, it should have been burst­ing with char­ac­ter, but in­stead it ap­peared life­less, bland and boxy. The ren­o­va­tion be­gan al­most im­me­di­ately with the mas­ter bed­room. We set to work un­cov­er­ing the orig­i­nal floor­boards and open­ing up the fire­place to re­in­state the room’s pe­riod fea­tures, as well as paint­ing over the muddy brown walls with white paint. The bath­room was next on the list, and was a much big­ger job than we’d an­tic­i­pated. It’s in an ex­ten­sion built by the pre­vi­ous own­ers but it was in a bad way with paint flak­ing off the tiles (we as­sume they were painted in reg­u­lar emul­sion rather than spe­cial­ist paint) and a less-than-ideal po­si­tion­ing of the suite. Bart took on the task him­self, which meant that while we were sav­ing money, it wasn’t a quick makeover. He knocked through the flat ceil­ing so the room felt more airy, ripped out the orig­i­nal suite and switched it

for a bar­gain set we found on ebay. He also plas­tered and painted the walls and re­did the tiling, too. In fact, I vividly re­mem­ber Bart in­stalling the bath ev­ery sin­gle even­ing so that we could shower, then dis­con­nect­ing it again af­ter­wards – for days on end – so that he could con­tinue with the tiling or grout­ing the fol­low­ing af­ter­noon.

‘I love that we’ve man­aged to cre­ate spa­ces that work for each mem­ber of the fam­ily’

Chang­ing rooms

Money was tight af­ter the bath­room up­date, so it was an­other two years be­fore we could be­gin the big­gest job: re­con­fig­ur­ing the down­stairs lay­out. Orig­i­nally, the house had two sep­a­rate mod­estly sized re­cep­tion rooms and a long, nar­row cor­ri­dor which ran down the side, con­nect­ing the two rooms to the kitchen at the end. This lay­out felt far too closed off for me, and I craved an open

space full of light that would al­low for eas­ier move­ment be­tween rooms. Once we had the money saved up, we had lo­cal builders knock down a few of the down­stairs walls and re­place them with steel beams. We chose to keep the liv­ing room chim­ney breast in situ to help zone the two ar­eas and al­low us to cre­ate al­ter­nate moods in each space. It also gave us a great ex­cuse to treat our­selves to a wood burner. I’ll never for­get walk­ing in for the first time af­ter the sup­port posts and scaf­fold­ing had been re­moved. The feel­ing of space was over­whelm­ing. We def­i­nitely made the right de­ci­sion.

DIY job

The kitchen – our most re­cent big project – was only fin­ished three years ago. I wasn’t ex­ag­ger­at­ing when I said this ren­o­va­tion has been a slow burner! Just

‘FIND A SIN­GLE ITEM YOU ADORE – PER­HAPS A PIECE OF FUR­NI­TURE OR ART­WORK – AND BUILD YOUR SCHEME AROUND IT’

like the other rooms, it was com­pleted by Bart, who chipped away at it on evenings af­ter work and on week­ends. He re­placed the brown, out­dated units and wall tiles with cream units from Ikea and stylish grey metro tiles. It took a fair few months to com­plete and it was a night­mare try­ing to func­tion with­out a kitchen – es­pe­cially with a tod­dler and a baby – but it meant that we were able to af­ford the scheme we wanted.

Find­ing our vibe

Our home has had many looks over the years. At one point, the din­ing room had a French farm­house style with dis­tressed fur­ni­ture and toile de Jouy wall­pa­per, while we played it safe in other rooms by keep­ing the walls white and the scheme pared back. But as our tastes have evolved, so has our choice of

‘THERE’S AL­WAYS SOME­THING I FEEL I COULD CHANGE OR DO BET­TER, BUT IT’S IM­POR­TANT TO LEARN TO LET GO OF IM­PER­FEC­TIONS’

‘FOR YEARS I WAS QUITE CON­SER­VA­TIVE WITH COLOUR, BUT COLOUR MAKES THIS SPACE SO FUN’

decor. I found that, for me, colour­ful, fun in­te­ri­ors were a form of ther­apy. Be­ing sur­rounded by cheery tones and happy spa­ces bright­ens my mood no end, and helps me to re­lax. Our decor has also be­come much more re­flec­tive of our per­son­al­i­ties – it’s play­ful, wel­com­ing and never too se­ri­ous or struc­tured.

Ever-chang­ing in­te­ri­ors

While we’re happy with our home as it stands, it’ll never be fully fin­ished. I’m al­ways stum­bling upon new ideas and in­spi­ra­tion on In­sta­gram and in in­te­ri­ors mag­a­zines, and try­ing to fig­ure out how to in­cor­po­rate them into our schemes. I also share pho­tos of our home projects on In­sta­gram (@ag­i_at_59). The ren­o­va­tion has been a se­ri­ous les­son in pa­tience. I’ve learnt that projects of­ten take much longer than an­tic­i­pated, and of­ten cost more too. But you al­ways get there in the end. My big­gest re­grets are not in­stalling the free­stand­ing roll-top bath I had my eye on eight years ago, and choos­ing two sinks in­stead of ex­tra stor­age, but I’ve come to re­alise that the key to be­ing happy with your home is let­ting go of any flaws you think it has, and just ac­cept­ing it for the cheery, fun, im­per­fect place that it is.’

Seam­less flow ‘When we knocked through, we kept the chim­ney breast in place to di­vide the two ar­eas, and treated our­selves to an ex-dis­play wood burner to keep the liv­ing area feel­ing cosy’

quick change ‘White walls make it re­ally easy to switch up the scheme’

dou­ble duty ‘Our bed­room is the only place we could squeeze a desk in, so it dou­bles as my of­fice’

Geo de­sign ‘When we moved in, this room had dark walls and cheap lam­i­nate floor­ing. We re­stored the orig­i­nal floor­boards and made a fea­ture of geo­met­ric print wall­pa­per on one wall’

desk job ‘i found this desk for £30 in a char­ity shop and painted the draw­ers pink to soften the look’

stor­age on a shoe string ‘the old wooden crate was a street-side find and now hides our big ugly printer!’

Thrift shop finds ‘You can get such great bar­gains in char­ity shops – we found Leon’s Ikea bed­side ta­ble for just £15’

Low-cost cre­ative ‘these painted moun­tains were so easy and cheap to do’

fresh feel ‘We chose white for longevity, on the premise that if we tire of the scheme, we can sim­ply change the ac­ces­sories’

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