Back in 2018 my partner Jack and I brought our first home, as two self employed people it felt like a small miracle to be homeowners and from the very start we made a promise that the home would be a bright, colourful, warm, creative space to help inspire us as Artists and act as an antidote to the years of renting plain white boxes.
Here's a little look at what we've created...
Whilst the house wasn't exactly tumbling down, renovating over the last 5 years has included things like rewiring, plastering, fully redecorating and restoring old period features, oh and landscaping a whole new garden and workshop (but that's for another post!)
The budget might have been lacking at moments but the ideas never have, infact pairing back and deciding what to do has sometimes been the hardest part. I’ve always loved those bohemian homes such a Charleston in East Sussex, where creativity of the Artist's spills off the canvas onto the walls, doors, furniture, fabrics and ceramicware and I definitely wanted to channel some of that into our home.
That doesn't necessary mean doing loads to your home, instead I think it's all about finding little spaces where you can add some unexpected creative joy and fun, a little extra layer with fabrics, a pop of colour, a plant or even a mural...
Having recently been interviewed by Bristol estate agents Boardwalk as part of their ‘Insiders’ series, where they speak to Interior Designers, Architects and Creatives about the inspiration for their homes and ask for their 3 top tips for how to recreate 'the look' it's got me thinking more about the process and how we ended up creating this space...
You can see the video here but in the meantime here are my top tips for creating an art-filled, colourful, warm home.
Bringing the outside in
Nature is very much the thread that runs through both our jobs, passions and house. Jack is as a landscape gardener and green woodworker and if you know my work, you’ll know that nature is a big inspiration. So it should be no surprise really that our house is a reflection of that and that the ‘theme’ (if there has been one at all), is the idea of ‘bringing the outside in.’ I think a sense of nature can bring a calmness to a space and espically when you live in the city, a connection to nature can help your home feel like a real retreat at the end of a busy day in town.
We achieved this feeling not only with botanical imagery in the artworks, fabrics and murals but also by considering carefully the colour palette and materials we’ve used in our home.
People often think of our home as being very colourful, which it is, but actually the palette is a very natural one, ochres, greens, blues. Even with the monochrome hallway, we opted for more of a charcoal colour than just black and I think all of these choices have made the space very harmonious and earthy.
Layering different textures is a key tip if you are looking to create a very cosy, homely feel. We’ve done this by using lots of different warm wood tones, contrasting metals, and choosing natural fabrics such as sheepskins and linens for the soft furnishings, and of course having real plants themselves helps too! Things like making a feature of your wood pile if you have a log burner all adds to the texture of the space.
We are both fans of traditional crafts and as well as Jack's own wooden bowls and spoons we have lots of items we have collected on our travels and from friends and makers which all help to make the space feel personal and lived in.
Be creative with how you use colour
If you love the idea of using more colour in your home but are nervous about where to start or worried a bold choice or colour might over whelm you or your home a great tip is to think not just about what colour you want but how you use that colour.
Having a colourful home doesn’t mean to you need to paint the walls floor to ceiling - you could just paint the doors, or a large piece of furniture (great if your renting!) Or find a little nook or recess that you can add a pop of colour to.
Another one of my favourite hacks in our home is to only paint the colour 2/3rds of the wall high, leaving the rest the same white as the celling. This gives you the opportunity to opt for a bolder or darker colour as it’s not as intense as having it all the way to the ceiling. It also helps make your ceilings feel higher and keeps spaces feeling light even with bold colour choices.
A top tip if you want to give this a go is - draw your line with a sprit level, don’t go off of the ceilings or floor as often these aren’t straight – espically in old homes. Use a really good tape such as frog tape, paint down over the line so that you aren’t pushing any paint under the tape and make sure to peel off when the paint is still wet for a crisp line.
Buy second hand
My last tip is to opt for second hand furniture. Apart from the items that Jack made for the house - like our coffee table and the chairs and stools for our dining table – nothing is new.
Part of that was to do with budget but we’ve also always really liked the look of second hand furniture and if you are trying to add some age to your home adding 2nd hand pieces gives instant character to a space. Now, not all of our pieces are really old, and certainly none are antique but with the right combination of things they all add to the space in their own way. The great thing about buying furniture in this way is that I almost see it as renting. Some things we’ve brought and then seen something better and upgraded, or realised we need something different and you can just sell it on again- and so the cycle goes on!
Second hand pieces are usually cheaper (and better quality than something new for the same price) and they also give you the chance to have a go at a bit of upcycling. With a bit of time and expertise it's easy to give furniture a new lease of life - and it's better for the planet too! We find most of our pieces on facebook market place, gumtree, second hand markets or charity shops, we've always got out eyes peeled from something for the house!
So, my 3 biggest lessons looking back...
Don't take it too seriously, don't follow trends and don't be afraid to go slowly with it...
I honestly thought it would take us 6 months to do our home - infact it took us 5 years! At times it felt like it would never be finished but once we let go of a deadline we were able to make choices for the long term, rather than just splashing a load of cash, doing a quick fix or buying new things we didn't really love and then were stuck with!
Taking our time also meant we did fun things, like the murals, the stencil on the bedroom floor and the axe wall (!) and it gave Jack the chance to make some items of furniture that he wanted to. These are all things that had we just had rushed to get it done we would have sacrificed as they were time consuming, took patience and were not always straightforward, but those are some of things I love the most about our house and what makes it such a unique home!