When we picked up the keys to our new home almost a year ago, I really believed I knew all I needed to know about buying, renovating and decorating. We'd been in our first home, a two- up, two- down in Milton Keynes for 4 years and turned what was a tired and ever-so-magnolia house with tiny windows and brown carpet; into a bright, light and lovely first home for the both of us. We'd made small spaces feel as airy as we possibly could and even given the dark, solid oak kitchen a new lease of life, but truth be told, we'd easily out grown the place a year earlier.
The day we found the house we live in now, I remember vividly turning to Ali and saying "we wouldn't even have to paint the place, it's already perfect!" We both look back on that day and laugh at how naive we both were as we survey the carnage that currently is our home. If my calculations are correct we are currently 3 rooms and 4 bathrooms off from renovating the entire property and as you read this, the tile wall that I loved so much in the hallway will slowly and painstakingly be removed whilst the 28 solid oak internal doors are sanded and stained Ebony in preparation for a two full staircase renovation and brand new wood flooring throughout 75% of the ground floor, not to mention the brand new carpets, blinds & curtains, a new cloakroom suite and more cushions than the home department in John Lewis.
And whilst it is carnage, I can now see the light at the end of it all. Rooms are coming together, our style is becoming more and more prevalent, the house is beginning to feel like it's our home and the echoy areas that I wondered whether we might ever be able to make feel cosy and inviting are becoming just that.
So with our first year in our new home will it always be known as our new home, who knows? almost firmly under out belts, it's time to look back through all the nitty gritty and see the lessons learnt along the way.
I thought I knew it all, but I absolutely didn't. For the first few months I did everything wrong. I didn't plan anything, I impulse purchased a lot and I naively believed that at some point everything would all come together and obviously, it didn't. The lessons I learnt were hard but I now see the visions I once had coming to life in the right way which is making it all worth while. It is absolutely OK to make mistakes and that stands in every aspect of life, Friends, outfits, interiors they are all learning curves and believe me I've had my fair share.
Much like fashion, interiors are not a one size fits all kinda thing and I guess like fashion, that is the beauty of it. What works for one person, won't work for the another and of course when it's your home, only YOU make the rules.
There were some very distinctive design features to our home when we moved in such as the aforementioned tile wall and of course matching window sill so random! amongst other things. Because we entered the house thinking we weren't going to change anything we tried to make good of the things we didn't like. I don't think we realised how special this house really was when we bought it, we quickly realised we were making mistakes and cutting corners. I was talked out of staining our internal doors 8 months ago, today we are unanimously staining those doors like. a. Bawss.
It obviously changes things if you plan on moving on fairly quickly but if this is your forever home, it pays not to cut corners. Pinterest, Instagram, mood boards, Interior Designers and forward plans for each area of your house are essential to budgeting as effectively as possible for ALL the changes that need to be made there.
We patch tested and we patch tested and we patch tested in every different light known to man, but the truth is, you will never know for sure exactly what the paint will look like until its actually on the walls. I'd like to say I have some handy hack for this but I don't. It's both a lesson and a fact.
This house is a far cry from being painted brilliant white and furnished in 50 shades of dove grey like our old house. We had our ideas, and our tastes but executing them was another ball game all together. I kept going for the individual statement pieces and hoping that all the statement pieces would make one big statement together but it just ended up making a whole lot of noise.
I've learnt so much from Sarah, our interior designer, over the past few weeks and it has been fun, eye opening and exciting seeing our style come together in the home. We had initial hesitations about employing an interior designer as we didn't want our home becoming a show home for someone else vision but that was a preconception that just simply wasn't accurate. Sarah took our style and taste and pared them with the most complimentary accessories and fabrics to fit our preferences. Not one item of furniture has entered our home without us having approved it and it never will but Sarah is able to offer up suggestions and ideas to make our taste flow and work. Take the new living room for example, I knew I wanted dark navy walls, I knew I wanted to keep our sofas and I wanted the room to be cosy with a formal feel so as to differentiate it from our games room. Sarah suggested pieces of furniture to compliment and ensure the flow of our style throughout the house isn't compromised, some of those pieces I never would have found myself and both Ali and I are over the moon. Working with an interior designer has also helped my fine tune my own style to the stage where I'm not only confident with using statement wall papers, darker colours and even styling rooms myself as I did with our utility room and aside from the fabric and sofa style of the Kitchen, I chose everything!
THE POWER OF BEAUTIFUL FABRIC
Curtains, cushions, blankets, throws and upholstery; it had never really been a big concern of mine when doing anything in the house up until around October time when I got a first look at the cushions I'd ordered for some of the rooms in the house. I was testing the water with my first order and swiftly made a second order of curtains and blinds to match as well as another lorry load of cushions. From what I've learnt so far, it is worth spending a little more when it comes to fabric to ensure the tones are perfectly paired with the room and the textures and patterns tie everything together, finished off with a plump cushion pad, they really are the icing on the cake.
NEUTRALS ARE NOT THE ENEMY
I can't be the only person who spent far too long avoiding warmer toned neutrals like the plague. I wanted grey, grey and more grey, the cooler the better, maybe even wash it down with a bit of brilliant white for good measure. But now I see the beauty in in rich, warm neutrals to compliment the cooler tones to ensure my home feels warm, cosy and inviting rather than stark and clinical. Beigey cream fabrics are my favourite at present with their most notable impact being on our dining room, it just wasn't pulling together in the way that we hoped but with the addition of our stunning navy and blue rug sourced by Studio Blair with our sophisticated accent chairs, even the beige Ikea curtains made a massive difference, the space came together to be a slightly more trend lead but still inviting and warm that we absolutely love enjoying with out friends.