The owners: Georgia Broome, an interior designer and blogger, her husband, James, a software developer, and their daughters, Olivia, seven, and Charlotte, four
The property: A 1950s semi-detached house near Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Project cost: £105,336
Ask Georgia the origin of a piece of furniture in her home and the answer
will be something obscure – an Ethiopian grain table, for example, or a retro French print. Travel is an integral part of her life. Brought up in France after moving from Brixton, she grew used to continental life before relocating to Dubai and then Toronto with her husband James. Each country has a place in her home through a treasured piece of furniture or accessory she brought back with her when
the family moved to Oxfordshire.
Read on to discover her home – then browse more real home transformations.
The transfer from Canada came as Georgia and James’ eldest daughter Olivia was due to start school. Their house search was largely based around the school they chose in a village in south Oxfordshire. Georgia originally discounted the house they now live in. ‘It had a shoddy side extension above the garage, the roof needed redoing, and the loft conversion wasn’t up to regulations,’ she explains.
It was the house’s original 1950s parquet floor that grabbed her attention. ‘It had me the minute I walked through the door,’ she laughed. ‘It was the house that no one was willing to buy and it had sat empty for two years. We had a chance to make it a lovely family home again.’
Georgia and James had rented while they lived abroad, so the house was their first proper family home. Georgia took inspiration from international living styles when she started planning the renovation. ‘Dubai has en suites, utility rooms and modern layouts, while Canada is all about what they call mud rooms – porches on steroids where you can put buggies, scooters and snow gear,’ she explains. ‘My list for this house was to have a big mud room, an en suite, a utility and a playroom.’
Although Georgia and James didn’t extend their property, the interior layout needed tweaking. The original sitting room ran from the front to the back of the house, so they placed a stud wall in the middle and opened up the back room into the kitchen to create an open-plan layout.
‘Having grown up in France sat round the table as a family, eating breakfast and dinner together is something we do every day,’ she says. ‘It’s where we do homework; I sit and blog and order my Tesco delivery; we spend the majority of our time here.’ In fact, Georgia runs her interior design business from a desk space she set up alongside the kitchen sideboard.
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The stud wall between the kitchen and the living room helps keep the latter as a cosy, relaxing space. ‘It’s the heart of our home, with all our posters, pictures and things from the places we’ve lived around the world,’ Georgia says. From the map of the French empire on the wall to the aforementioned grain table that Georgia picked up from a street market in Italy at 16, it’s certainly a reflection of the family’s lives. That’s not to say it isn’t practical. ‘To keep it functional for a young family, it has two Ikea sofas that can take a battering, and the covers can be taken off and put in the washing machine,’ Georgia adds.
The retro touches Georgia has added around her house help to counterbalance its functionality. The kitchen is dominated by a framed list of bus routes from Brixton, which Georgia and James took regularly in their years as a young couple. French school posters picked up from vintage markets are scattered around the house. Georgia’s childhood bed is now used by Olivia, and the desk she used as a teenager is in the spare room.
Because James works from home, it made sense to turn the existing loft conversion into a home office. ‘A huge percentage of the budget went into bringing it up to current Building Regulations standard,’ Georgia says. However, it does get a lot of use. ‘I have my sewing table up there as well as all the furniture I’m upcycling – there’s lots of pots of paint,’ she laughs.
It’s clear that Georgia has a natural flair for design, but she says her family influenced her love of interiors. ‘My mum’s a curtain maker and always designed her houses,’ she says. ‘We’ve moved a lot and travelled a lot, so I’ve grown up really inspired by my environment.’
She wants that for her daughters, too. ‘I don’t want to compromise because I have young kids, but I don’t want to spend my life telling them, “Don’t touch this” or “Be careful”. It’s about getting that balance: inspiring them, but letting them live in it, too. It still needs to do the job a house is built to do.’
- Interior design Home Made Productions, homemadeproductions.co.uk
- Architect Michael Nye Design, 07721 001661
- Builder Adam Packer, 07766 304932
- Bi-fold doors Mxleans Glass Oxford, 01865 715165, mcleansglass.co.uk