Inspiration for Homebody Decor - Part 2

Welcome back!

So, having renovated the downstairs of my gorgeous little Grade 2 listed cottage, it was time to tackle the 1st floor. The cottage had been split into 2 bedrooms and an upstairs bathroom that hadn’t seen a new bathroom suite since the ‘70’s! Combined with some rotten windows, some rather tatty carpets and some cracked walls, I knew this wasn’t going to be as bad as the ground floor, but it was still going to throw up some challenges.

STAIRCASE

Not a huge amount to say - as it is only a staircase! But…. it needed to be a little more interesting than just a dark, steep staircase to the first floor, so, I gave it a little makeover. Having a dog, it was only sensible to go for a striped, hardwearing carpet in the hallway, separated by brass carpet runners and with the steps painted white. In terms of the walls, I decided to use this large area as a place for a montage of photographs and art.

Noodle photo bombing the photograph!

Noodle photo bombing the photograph!

Montage of art and artefacts on boring blank walls

Montage of art and artefacts on boring blank walls

BATHROOM

Oh my gosh! The bathroom! What a mess! When I looked around the property, I hadn’t really paid attention to the bathroom. I just thought naively ‘I’ll rip that out and start again’! How I was wrong!

When these cottages were built back in the 1800’s they didn’t have bathrooms (I still had the outside toilet from the 60’s in the garden!) so this one was created in the eaves of the house. Unfortunately, this also meant that they hadn’t moved the overflow pipe from the roof that went through the building! I had a lovely old wooden panel bath, a push button operated toilet, no shower and various pipes along the ceiling. Combined with some dubious pipe boxing-in and an old mouldy vinyl floor… this was going to be hard work!

Old push toilet, yellow walls and mouldy vinyl floor!

Old push toilet, yellow walls and mouldy vinyl floor!

Taps underneath the window

Taps underneath the window

Wooden panel bath

Wooden panel bath

Various redundant pipes!

Various redundant pipes!

First things first, I ripped out the old bathroom suite, old water pipes and flooring, including a trip to the dump with the old bath in the back of my VW Golf (it’s amazing how big the boot is). Then I stripped all the old lining paper from the ceiling and got this re-plastered to a nice smooth finish. At this point it was a bare shell and the gym washroom was now my temporary bathroom!

I like a shower, but with the wall being a stud wall, sadly I couldn’t fit a lovely big supersonic jungle rain shower. The work around this was to get a shower that feeds from the same water flow as the bath pipes, hide the pipes in the stud wall cavity and then fit a pump under the bath to power the water pressure. I found that you can get some really good shower units for poor water pressure at a reasonable price online. Only one problem - the taps were located underneath the window rather than where the stud wall was. Only thing for it was to shorten the pipes and direct them back to the wall end.

Next the bath suite. I managed to source a new toilet, sink and bath from eBay for about £150! The guy who was selling it was a builder and was fitting a new suite to what already looked like it was brand new - so I nabbed the lot!

I decided that due to the space being relatively small, I would just make it a nice clean white bathroom. I used white bevel edged metro tiles on all the walls and grey wood effect tiles for the floor. Tiling it all myself was hard work, especially as my tile cutter broke on the first day - so the rest was done by hand!

Once we had added the water resistant chandelier and painted the ceiling, boxing and the waste pipe I think I managed to achieve a bathroom that is bright, clean and modern.

New shiny bathroom - a labour of love!

New shiny bathroom - a labour of love!

BEDROOMS 1 & 2

Luckily, the bedrooms weren’t quite as bad as the bathroom. Bedroom 1 was a lovely sized room, but had lining paper and a brown old carpet, as well as a slightly rotten window frame. This was to be my main bedroom and so I wanted it to be cosy, relaxed and along the lines of the country style I was trying to achieve.

An empty, shabby Bedroom 1

An empty, shabby Bedroom 1

Bedroom.jpg

Although I am not a massive fan of green as a colour generally, I absolutely love Farrow and Ball’s Card Room green. It is relatively dark, but not oppressive, it also has a very slight hint of grey. It also dries really chalky and matt which I think is just the nicest finish for a bedroom.

As the walls weren’t in too bad condition, we just focussed on stripping the lining paper and re-plastering this room. I then set about painting the ceiling in Dulux Timeless and all the wood in Farrow and Ball Eggshell in James White. James White is a slightly creamier white, but it complements and sets off the green really well.

I replaced the carpet with a cream, thick wool hard wearing carpet from Tapi Carpets and also used this in Bedroom 2 for unity.

I introduced my lovely metal frame Feather and Black bed and some wood bedside tables from Laura Ashley and a vintage chest unit that have a really chunky country feel to them.

I love this bedroom, it really feels like my little place to get away and snuggle down.

Bedroom 1.PNG

Bedroom 2 was a very small room and it had damp! :( So, firstly we set about removing the lining paper and then coating the walls with watered down PVC glue to try and dry out some of the damp areas. Luckily, it seemed the damp was from an old burst pipe that had been fixed, which was lucky as I really didn’t fancy having to knock out parts of wall to access it! The PVC did the trick and I then filled the movement cracks with filler and sanded the entire area.

Again, I wanted to create a cosy, inviting environment that guests could stay in. Again, I went for a colour that I wouldn’t normally use. I saw some pinterest pictures of bedrooms painted in Farrow and Ball Dix Blue and thought I would try it. It is a nice sky blue colour with a touch of teal and would compliment the Butterfly Bedspread that I had for that room.

In order to create a little more interest, I used the butterfly theme and took inspiration from Angel Strawbridge of Escape to the Chateau fame and created my own butterflies to stick to the wall and look as though they were ‘flying’ up the back wall. The chest of drawers and the bedside cabinet were washed with white paint to make them slightly distressed (I hate the term ‘Shabby Chic’!) and fit perfectly into the remaining space.

Bedroom 2.PNG

GARDEN

When I say ‘garden’ that might be a bit of an exaggeration! I had a piece of lawn at the front of the property where I planted a climbing rose up the front of the house, but the back was really a courtyard consisting of a Grade 2 listed out building. It had a mound of grass and old pebbled area with one pot, a fallen down fence and an old brick pavement.

Not the most inspiring outdoor space

Not the most inspiring outdoor space

Grassy mound with bins!

Grassy mound with bins!

After finishing the house, I wanted to make the outdoor space a relaxing area that I could sit in the sun and treat myself to a glass of wine or 2! Unfortunately, the existing layout just wasn’t working for me unless I wanted to sit next to a couple of rubbish bins!

I decided that I was going to use the theme of the pebble side and create an easily maintained garden that could display pot plants but also have a private are for seating. To achieve this, the grass had to go!

Unfortunately with the grassy area being a mound, this also meant levelling this area! First the grass turfed up, then about a tonne of earth was moved from the back courtyard to my newly made flower bed in the front garden. I then set about building an area to contain the pebbles and bamboo a screen between the bins and my courtyard.

Just a few bags of earth!

Just a few bags of earth!

Levelled and screened off

Levelled and screened off

I ordered a tonne of pebbles from Wickes and decided to paint the fencing, broken old seat and some of the trellis in a light blue to add some colour to the scheme. I drapped the existing Clematis through the bamboo, added some pots, hanging baskets and outdoor furniture and created that chilled outdoor space that I was in need of.

Garden progress 3.jpg
Garden progress 4.jpg
Garden 2.PNG
me wadhurst.jpg

Overall, it took me about a year to really complete everything and even then I felt as though there was more to do but you have to halt yourself at one point or another otherwise you will literally be bankrupt!

I hope this has inspired you too.

Every house is a home and every home should be a reflection of you.

It takes some hard graft and a lot of patience but in the end it really is so satisfying!

Enjoy!

Love,

Jenny. x

Inspiration for Homebody Decor - Part 1

Following years of commuting to London, I realised that I really wanted to set up a business in something that I am passionate about. At the same time, I was spending most of my weekends renovating my Grade 2 listed cottage. The process was arduous to say the least, but it really made me focus on what I can achieve when I put my mind to it!

This essentially became the inspiration for developing my own home accessories and furniture business, with the freedom to stock items that I truly love, in styles that I believe are not on the high street and reflect my slightly eccentric nature.

The beginning…

This journey began in January 2016, when I bought a 2 bedroom, ex-rented Grade 2 listed workers cottage in a quaint village in Sussex. Although structurally sound, the interior hadn’t been touched for about 15 years and with no kitchen facilities (apart from a sink!), it was going to be a ‘project’!

Outside.jpg

Before I moved in, I had already created mood boards and colour schemes for all the rooms, but before I could get started with the ‘fun’ part, I had some serious renovation aspects that needed to be tackled first.

As most of the walls were lathe and plaster covered with lining paper that had started to come away, the first job really was to remove the blown plaster areas and take the ceilings and walls back to the studs. Not the most delicate or clean task and basically rendered the house looking like something out of the walking dead!

Staircase .jpg
Dining room back to strut.jpg

Next step was to screw plasterboard to all the walls and ceilings. This isn’t normal practice to be honest, I should really have taken all the lathe and plaster off, but for the sake of a couple of millimetres, it seemed easier to re-board and then plaster again for a nice smooth finish.

As part of this process, I also had to rip out the old bathroom, kitchen and fireplace - which was very satisfying. Nothing like smashing things up with a sledge hammer! I also removed all the old asbestos tiles (that I found under the old carpet) from the kitchen floor - probably not as safely as I should have done on hindsight!

fire place.jpg
kitchen floor.jpg

This left me with a shell of a house, but a completely new canvas which was really where I wanted to get it too. I could now start to play with colour schemes and start to put it back together again in the style and way I wanted to. My first job really was the kitchen. Microwave meals were getting boring and the pub was definitely seeing an increase in trade!

My ambition was to give the cottage a country feel interior to fit in with the history as well as it’s location, but I also wanted to inject some colour and modernity into it too.

KITCHEN

The kitchen was very small and pretty boring but it had a lovely window out on to the courtyard garden and a fantastic larder on the side of the room. I wanted to expose the brick of the wall on the larder but having lived through plastering of the whole house, I decided against knocking the old plaster off and then sand blasting. Instead, I discovered brick slips! The most useful way to knock up a faux exposed brick wall. It took me a few weekends to complete, but with the help of some grip fill and cement for pointing, I achieved the look I was after.

The kitchen units were a little more of a hassle. I tried to recycle a kitchen that I bought off eBay for £200 but there was no making it fit! In the end I went to Wickes and bought some cream shaker style units. For the work surface, I wanted it keep the country theme, so I went with a solid oak top and a butlers sink.

I painted all the walls in one of my favourite creams; Farrow and Ball Matchstick and the ceiling in Dulux Timeless. I also decided to paint the original black beams. It took me a while to make this decision, as I generally like to keep original elements, but in this case, it made the room dark and feel smaller.

Kitchen.jpg
kitchen wall 3.jpg
Kitchen 2.PNG

LOUNGE

I loved the lounge, it was a good square size and had old style windows to the front and a little fireplace. I knew I could make it into the cosy, snug room that I had in mind.

I had seen the use of dark blue and teal in smaller rooms and although this room was quite dark, I was keen to try it. Most people thought I was nuts and that it would do nothing to make the room look larger. I was determined, so I decided on Farrow and Ball’s Stiffkey Blue and bit the bullet.

Immediately I saw the difference, it is such a lovely colour. Even though it is teal blue, it isn’t cold and instantly added the modern edge that I wanted. The ceiling was finished in Dulux Timeless again, which created a crisp contrast with the wall colour.

I had already run dark oak coloured wood floor throughout the ground floor of the house and the Stiffkey colour really complemented it.

Lounge.jpg
Lounge floor.jpg
Lounge fireplace.jpg

Combined with this, I decided on industrial style copper lighting, leather furniture and chestnut wood.

To make it a little less masculine, I added some colourful art to the walls and made sure to create a focal point with a new fireplace and rug. I also introduced a large driftwood frame mirror to the wall opposite the window to bounce light around the room.

So that the room didn’t become overwhelmingly dark with colour, I decided to keep a white dado rail and to make the windows a real feature. I discovered these gorgeous white French wood shutters from www.shutters.co.uk. They are a plantation style and were so easy to install myself, even with slightly wonky window frames! They were worth the investment and really pulled the whole room together.

This was my favourite room to renovate and live in.

Lounge.PNG
Lounge 2.PNG

Dining Room

The final room on the ground floor, the dining room adjoined the lounge. I considered whether it was worth knocking down the supporting wall and putting in a CCJ to open up the space and make it open plan, but with the cottage being a Grade 2 listed building, this would have meant a lot of paper work and building regulations.

Instead, I decided to make this space a place to work as well as eat and host dinner parties. It needed to be calm and relaxing but still maintain a similar interior style and flow.

Essentially, this room was relatively easy, I selected Farrow and Ball Manor house grey for the walls and Dulux Timeless for the ceiling. I then decided that this room would be used more for showcasing a big canvas, my table and chairs (which were also a chestnut oak colour) and a welsh dresser that I had already upcycled.

My beautiful vintage cow hide rug and the same French shutters would seal the deal.

Dining Room.jpg
welsh dresser.jpg
Dining Room.PNG

The ground floor of the house probably took me about 4 months to complete in total but it was worth all the sweat, tears and money! I ended up with a kitchen, lounge and dining room that was exactly how I had imagined it in my head and on my mood boards.

Stay tuned for the next instalment, where I will show you the renovation of the staircase, bathroom, 2 bedrooms, not forgetting the garden………

J.x

Tips for Styling your Space

Do you feel your interior needs a little pick-me-up? You may have just moved in, or maybe it is just time to change things up in your interiors?

Here are some little interior design tips to help you make that change and create your home style statement.

  1. Always plan your scheme prior to embarking on painting or wallpapering those walls. Create moor boards, save pins in Pinterest and get as many colour swatches as possible! Once you have decided on your style idea try not to deviate from it too much and introduce other styles, it will look confused and messy.

As part of this I always work with a dominant colour to style around. This is an easier way to develop your scheme. For example, if you are working with neutrals make sure you have a colour that ‘pops’ out in your accessories so it doesn’t look too insipid. Greys are lovely, but without a warmer colour the space can just look a little boring, so inject a blush pink or yellow for example. If bolder colours are your thing, then go for it, but try to keep a dominant colour throughout with other statement colours only making an entrance in accessories and artwork.

5be33807a2c57bf59552bfba1a3a44ee.jpg
8a5380065ac0dac3f59188222ddfb199.jpg

2. Try to avoid ‘over styling’ your space. Remember that less is more and be careful not to feel the need to fill every single gap. Sometimes, when we see Instagram or Bloggers houses they are full to the brim of beautiful items and we want to replicate it. In real life this isn’t practical and in some cases can be a little too ostentatious.

Leaving some empty space will accentuate the pieces you do have. My mother always gave me this advice about jewellery - put it all on and then take one item off. This is a relevant saying for interiors too!

3. Creating a sense of balance is the key to success with styling. Think of rooms as a landscape and introduce different height and widths to create interest. I love using floor lamps, footstools, bookcases or shelves and hanging pot plants for this. Don’t forget about hanging artwork either, hang wall décor above a chair or sofa to bring attention to the wall.4. Consider the layout of your furniture. A lot of designers will say move your furniture away from walls to create space which is the ideal, however in a lot of homes (mainly due to space) this just isn’t possible. An alternative is to create a ‘conversation’ area.

4. The best way to organise your furniture in a lounge is to position your sofa with a couple of other chairs at either side in a U shape with a rug and coffee table to create a conversational area rather than sitting all in a long line. Although the TV tends to dominant living rooms and furniture gets put in a position to ‘best see the tv!’ it doesn’t make for the most inviting interior styling!

9113b9a945b94e41b44b343436bb30a0.jpg

5. Blank walls! Argh! Massive pet hate of mine! Every time I watch reality TV programmes that include people’s homes (not mentioning any names!) I am aghast at how many people have blank walls! Wall art or décor need to be a key part of your styling process. Consider the type of wall décor goes with your scheme and then plan where to position it based on your furniture layout. Don’t be intimidated by a big, windowless wall! Get creative and think of ways to use this as a blank canvas. I typically go for a big gallery wall because I love art, but there is a big trend for material wall hangings, macramé and plate displaying at the moment.

044aeacae1f0772f16700390ddb464a5.jpg
section-living.jpg

6. I’m banging on about statement pieces again! But, scale is really important to consider when styling. A larger statement item will make a much bigger impact. Opt for fewer large pieces that will really stand out in the room.

7. Mirrors are key to dark, small spaces. Create light and space by putting a mirror in rooms that need more light or depth. Interior designers regularly use mirrors to bounce light into dark corners and create the look of a larger space

8. Cushions and throws are an obvious one for styling and probably something you feel a bit more confident in choosing. Throws are amazing for adding additional texture on the sides and tops of a sofa. With cushions the trick is to karate chop them at the top! (I have literally only just learnt this tip myself!) They should be plump and inviting – flat pancake cushions are not a good look! Try buying feather cushion pads that are 2 inches bigger than the cushion cover to make them really plump.

0f454fa4f7a2ea63e5486689fc0816c1.jpg
Lauren pink cushion.PNG

9. Try to group things in odd numbers. Single items will look instantly better when grouped.

10. Adding in plants (real or faux) is a great way to revitalise your space, introducing a bit of nature and a pop of colour. Plants really do bring a room to life - whether it’s a small succulent or a big Banana plant or Yucca - get some green into your home.

8ee721713aad05a0280024fb772ea5f0.jpg
53215c5662dc77ba2b8aec7973005976.jpg

Overall, have a fun with it! Making your interior beautiful should be a joyful thing to do and something that you love living in. Although I follow trends, I also tend to design to the way I want to live and ensure to mix up my new and old items to create my own style statement. After all you are the one living in it! :)

J.x

Achieve a Style with Minimal Effort and Cost

If only we all had the same budget as an interior blogger, or an interior designer on speed dial! Sadly, for most of us, life gets in the way and our interior lacks time and effort, but it is so simple to achieve a style with minimal effort and cost. So, follow these tips and you should be able to create a beautiful space.