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’!

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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!

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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!

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This left me with a shell of a house, but a completely new canvas which was really were 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 bathroom 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 them 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.