Interiors Editor and Stylist Victoria Harrison shows us round her 1970's bungalow and answers some of our burning questions on her interior style and tips for creating a warm, welcoming home on a budget.
What attracted you to your home in the first place?
The location! I actually grew up in this village, and after several years of living and working in London decided I wanted to return to the area to be near my friends and family. By moving back here I was able to afford much more space and I also have a lovely garden. When I moved in the bungalow was structurally sound and had great potential - the previous owners had put a new kitchen and bathroom in 5 years before and had done lots of work to reconfigure the layout which I really loved. But it just needed a total decor refresh. It was a totally blank canvas that I couldn't wait to start decorating!
What improvements/decorating have you done?
I am a big fan of vintage furniture and country style but I also like to keep things simple, so with each room I started off with a simple colour palette of white walls, natural flooring (wool carpet) and white or pale grey furniture, then I added warmth and character with vintage pieces, handmade accessories and art. I added rose pink, soft grey and metallic gold and copper as accents throughout to keep the rooms feeling cohesive.
But each room has it's own style too. I kept the bedroom quite calm and pared back as I wanted it to feel really soothing, so it has more grey, but the bathroom is bright, fresh white as I wanted it to feel really light and clean. The kitchen has more colour. Because the bungalow is 1970s it doesn't have any period features like fireplaces, picture rails, so I really wanted to add some soul and character and I think vintage furniture and accessories are the best way to do this.
The biggest job was the living room / dining room. This was a tricky space and hard to create a cosy feel as it is so open on 3 sides (with windows, arches and doors) so I decided to create a feature along the longest wall. Rather than just putting a sofa along that wall I bought an electric woodburner and a mantlepiece (I wanted a white plaster fireplace surround but obviously couldn't afford one so I found a cheap cream plastic one with a faux wood top and I painted the entire thing with Annie Sloane White Chalk paint to make it look like plaster!) I then found the two sideboards to go either side and bought the two small wall lights to put above them. In that way I created structure, symmetry and a focal point along that plain wall.
My best bargain was my sofa and armchair - I wanted an L-shaped sofa but that would have been too big and blocked the room so I found this one which is halfway between a regular sofa and an L shaped one - it's incredibly comfy but doesn't dominate the room or block the view from the dining room. I did lots of research before buying it as my budget was very tight and I eventually found this one in the DFS showroom (the Tote range - now discontinued) - it was an ex-display model and had been on the shop floor for a year so I got the sofa, footstool and armchair for an amazing price. It also meant I could have it delivered straight away without having to wait for it to be made.
I couldn't afford a real wood burner but I wanted the look of a country living room so I found an artificial wood burner that I love - I chose one with an opening door so I could pop some real logs in to make it look as authentic as possible - I was worried it might look a bit plastic - but it does actually look really realistic. It also throws out a good amount of heat and has created a lovely cosy focal point to the room. The mantlepiece and surround was a cheap plastic one form Homebase that I up cycled with Annie Sloane white paint to give it the look of a plaster mantlepiece!
What was your budget roughly?
Minimal! I spent two years redecorating the house bit by bit (living there at the same time) as I just didn't have any money to do it all at once. Each pay check meant I could paint another room or buy another piece of furniture. I also upcycled a LOT and tracked down a lot of vintage / second hand pieces of furniture or ex-display pieces of furniture.
Do you have any decorating disaster stories?
Plenty! Painting the kitchen was a bit of a nightmare. Not because it went wrong, but just because of the sheer scale of the project. My dream was to have a white, country style kitchen so I painted all the cupboards with white chalk paint, as I really wanted a bright, fresh, Shaker-style kitchen. They were originally oak coloured laminate and there are over 20 doors so it was a huge project as I removed each one, took all the hardware off and gave each door three coats of paint and a coat of wax before rehanging each door. I also had to paint all the cupboard carcasses and shelves. By the end I didn't want to see another pot of paint EVER! But I think it transformed the space and it only cost me about £200.
Is there anything you have made yourself?
Yes, I reupholstered a chair, made several of the cushions, up cycled the bedside tables, up cycled the kitchen clock and hacked the fireplace. I also replanted all of the bathroom cabinets, and obviously the kitchen cabinets too.
What is your favourite room. Why?
My home office is my favourite room, it's a lovely peaceful space that opens out onto the garden. The patio outside is a little sun trap so it's a lovely place to sit in the summer. And it's a really cosy room in the winter. It's such a luxury to have a dedicated working space so I absolutely love it. I have my laptop and sewing machine set up and all of my craft materials and design books close to hand. It used to be a small single bedroom but as guest rooms tend to be used quite infrequently it seemed a waste of the space to have a bed in there so I emptied the room out, painted it white, put new carpet down and slowly bought furniture for it piece by piece. The desk is IKEA and the shelves were inexpensive pine B&Q ones that I painted white. The bookcase was a vintage 1970s one that my parents gave me - it was quite dark wood so I painted it with pale pink chalk paint to freshen it up. ('Antoinette' by Annie Sloane) The bureau was a sale find from John Lewis. It was ex-display and had a few little scratches and ink blots but I quote like that and it meant I got it for a great price.
You can see more of Vicky's style on her blog Style Made Simple