Real home: this bold and bright extended home is a masterclass in colour

Geri and Andrew’s home is packed with pattern, colour and plenty of personality.

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Faced with the blank, magnolia shell of a new build, Geri Alessi wasn’t sure where to begin. ‘I’ve always lived in older properties, and there are always pre-existing features or styles you can work with,’ she says. ‘It’s harder trying to bring character to a brand new house. I’ve changed the living room alone five times in the years we’ve lived here!’ 

Geri and her husband Andrew bought their home in 2012, when their oldest daughter Emilia was a baby. ‘We liked the outside of the property,’ says Geri. ‘It had a traditional look – symmetrical windows, a big door – but when you walked in, it was very apparent it was a new house. It was totally plain, except for an awful red carpet that wasn’t what we’d asked for.’ Still, the rooms were spacious, and the couple could see the potential…

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Large open-plan kitchen-diner extension with grey large format floor tiles, black and wood dining table, yellow armchair and dark blue-black Shaker kitchen

‘The roof lantern and the bi-fold doors let in huge amounts of light,’ says Geri. ‘When the weather’s good, we throw open
the doors and enjoy the space to the max.’ Flooring,
Porcelain Superstore. Roof lantern, Roof Maker. Bi-fold doors, IQ Glass. Kitchen, The Shaker Workshop. Armchairs, Ebay. Bar stools, Atlantic Shopping 

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

The owners Geri Alessi, a wedding stationer (@overatno18;, her husband Andrew, who works in Formula One, and their daughters Emilia and Luisa
The property A five-bed detached new build in Milton Keynes
Project cost £123,500

Once they had moved in, Geri tackled Emilia’s room – ‘it was important to us that she could settle in straight away’ – before taking on the living room, dining room and master bedroom. The kitchen had to wait while the couple saved up. It was small for a five-bedroom house, so an extension was at the forefront of our minds,’ says Geri.

Five years later, and now with a second daughter, Luisa, the couple began planning the kitchen, bringing in an architectural design firm to help perfect their ideas. ‘We were looking at an L-shaped extension,’ says Geri. ‘But our designer encouraged us to knock through to the existing utility room to create a rectangular box, and use part of the old kitchen as the new utility. It would give us a bigger kitchen and utility – which makes a huge difference . We have a space to dry our clothes!’

Neutral grey Shaker-style kitchen with white marble worktop, open wood shelving, grey large format floor tiles

Geri and Andrew based the kitchen design around an island, which was top of Geri’s wish list. Open shelving replaces wall units, letting more light bounce around the room.

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

From start to finish, the process took a year, thanks to delays to the planning application process and waiting for their builder to be free to do the work. Once it all kicked off, though, everything was smooth-sailing. ‘We were lucky in that our old kitchen was functioning until the very end, so we never had to do without,’ says Geri. ‘While it was a total state looking out of the window, it never intruded into our daily lives.’

Corner of kitchen with patterned wallpaper, wooden sideboard and large format grey floor tiles

 Bold patterned wallpaper makes a statement in the kitchen. ‘I felt we could pull it off over here, away from the cooking area and all the food splatters,’ says Geri. Kitty McCall Queen Palm wallpaper, Milton & King. Sideboard, Homesense. Mirror, TK Maxx, painted with Rust-Oleum paint 

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

The kitchen is a little more pared-back than the other rooms in the house, but it by no means lacks personality. ‘We played the design safe because it was expensive, and while we wanted to put our stamp on it, we didn’t want to do anything we might regret later on,’ says Geri. ‘We went for a classic Shaker style, then added things like the statement wallpaper on one wall.’ The couple maximised light with the large roof lantern and bi-fold doors, and by opting for open shelving rather than wall units. 

Living room with parquet floor, blue rug, orange sofa, blue armchair, yellow glazed cabinet and gallery wall

Moving the living room furniture further into the middle  transformed this space and made it feel more intimate. ‘It took
five attempts, but I’ve finally got this room how I want it,’ says Geri. ‘The walls used to be bright green, which was too much for such a long space – now, it feels light and airy, but still cosy.’ Orange sofa, City Sofas via
Ebay. Green velvet armchair, Swoon. Coffee table and rug, Homesense. Yellow glass cabinet, Ikea. Curtains, Dunelm. Ceiling light, Brand Alley. Floor lamp, Homebase

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

The resulting space is a bright room where the family can cook and eat together – very different from the living room, which is Geri and Andrew’s chill-out space. ‘We did worry that the living room would become defunct once the kitchen was in place, but it’s still the place we retreat to at the end of the day,’ says Geri. The finished look is the result of plenty of trial and error. ‘Because it’s such a big, narrow room, getting that cosy look was difficult,’ she adds. ‘We had a large, curved sofa that stopped everything from coming together. We only got rid of it last year, and suddenly everything else worked.’

Decked area with grey decking, rattan outdoor furniture, green parasol

The couple hired a landscape designer to help shape the garden, which features a large patio and a decked area, complete with sociable seating. Decking, Savoy Timber, fitted by Geri and Andrew. Lounge set, Argos. Patio paving, Porcelain Superstore

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Geri’s creative, colourful style flows through the house, from the bold wallpaper in the master bedroom and the home office – ‘I’ve always been obsessed with botanicals’ – to the unique paint effects in Emilia and Luisa’s room.

Kids' room with twin beds, black floral wallpaper, geometric colour block paint in green and yellow, and pink carpet

‘Luckily for me, the girls weren’t too interested when I was doing this room, though I talked Emilia through it all,’ says Geri. ‘Luisa will be getting her own room soon, and she already has a list of what she wants!’ Wallpaper, Wayfair. Walls painted in Wilko’s Canary Yellow, Dulux’s Proud Peacock and Rust-Oleum’s Emerald Green. Blinds, Homebase. Beds, Argos and Ebay. Rug, Brand Alley. Green drawers, Ebay, painted in White and Victory Lane Green, Frenchic. Natural drawers, TK Maxx

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

‘They share at the moment, but Luisa will have her own room soon, so I wanted Emilia’s scheme to be something she can grow into,’ Geri says. ‘The girls inspired the decor. Luisa is a bit of a firecracker, so I wanted to make sure I had something of her in there, but I wanted it to tie in with Emilia’s style. I’m a big fan of combining florals and abstract patterns – as long as you find colours that work together, you can’t go wrong.’

White home office with white desk, grid moodboard, green rug and black ceiling light

‘This used to be the dining room,’ says Geri. ‘I wanted to move my office downstairs to avoid missing parcels, but I didn’t have to change the room too much. The scheme ties in perfectly with my stationery designs, which have a botanical theme; there’s a wallpaper on one of the other walls that I fell in love with on a B&B break.’ Desk and rug, Ikea. Chair, Kitty McCall. Ceiling light, My Furniture

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Have there been any design regrets along the way? ‘Nothing is permanent in interiors, so unless you’re investing huge amounts of money – like we did with our kitchen – you can’t possibly regret it, because you can change it without it costing the earth,’ says Geri.

Bedroom with one pink wall and one patterned wallpapered wall, green velvet bed, bedding with yellow and pink cushions, and green painted wardrobe

The master bedroom has seen the least amount of change, with the wallpaper going up within the first year of the family moving in. ‘With wallpaper, it has to be an immediate love affair,’ says Geri. ‘The colours in this one will still work even if our style changes.’ Wallpaper, Cole & Son. Ottoman, ceiling lights and pink armchair, Homesense. Bed, Made. Chest of drawers, Swoon. Wardrobe, Ebay, painted in a mix of Victory Lane Green and white, Frenchic. Ladder, Aldi. Throws, Homesense and Kitty McCall

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Architectural design Building Tectonics
Garden landscaping GC Landscapes

‘I feel like everything is coming together now, and I’m at a place where I can enjoy all the rooms – but our kitchen is my favourite space. I didn’t realise the importance of having somewhere we could congregate as a family until we did it. We practically live in there, particularly in the past year – we’ve had the doors wide open when the weather’s been good. It’s the best decision we made.’

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Ellen Finch
Former deputy editor

Formerly deputy editor of Real Homes magazine, Ellen has been lucky enough to spend most of her working life speaking to real people and writing about real homes, from extended Victorian terraces to modest apartments. She's recently bought her own home and has a special interest in sustainable living and clever storage.