A Pretty, Pastel, Country Style Home of an Interiors Stylist

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 Β£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