This dark and dramatic house just oozes original charm

The color choices for this gorgeous Victorian home may seem bold, but just take a tour and you'll be reaching for the deep teal paint too...

 Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Getting to know a property before you start making major changes gives you the chance to understand how the house works, and to devise solutions to poor design features. While Rachael and her family didn’t live in their Victorian home prior to renovating it, her connection to it meant she had knowledge of the ins and outs of the building.

‘After two years of renting, we bought this place from my good friend,’ she says. ‘People were saying, “Don’t you think it’s weird living in her house?” but I knew it would be mine once we’d finished with it. She comes round for drinks and doesn’t find it strange at all.’

If you have your own period property to makeover, we have got lots of ideas and advice on where to start in our feature on house renovations. For more real home transformations, head to our hub page.

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

‘The floor installers worked around the existing kitchen units, even fitting the parquet under them,’ says Rachael. ‘We added a patterned vinyl floor mat next to the oven, which is easy to clean and looks like tiles.’ Vinyl mat, Beijaflor World. Walls painted in Lamp Black, Little Greene. For similar pendant lights, try the aged bronze fluted pendant, Cox & Cox. Parquet flooring, Naturally Oak Flooring

(Image credit: Katie Lee)
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The owners Rachael Wilshaw (@beetrootandblack), a photographer, her husband, Matthew, who works in finance, and their children, Lily and Harry
The property A four-bed Victorian semi in Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees
Project cost £40,000

Having lived in different countries and styles of properties, Rachael and Matthew were clear on what they wanted from their new home. ‘When we decided to move back to my hometown after living abroad and then in London, we both agreed our new house had to be a period property,’ says Rachael. ‘The place we were renting was a new build and that just confirmed how much we love original features such as the high ceilings. Plus older properties are well built – they’re strong and they’re not going anywhere!’

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

‘We decided we wanted the exposed brick wall look and had the tiler install brick slips for more texture and a rugged look,’ says Rachael.  Brick slips, Brick Slips UK. Dining table, John Lewis & Partners. Chairs, Wayfair. Chandelier, BHS

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The couple approached their project with a plan, and sticking to it saved them time and money over the two months the works were taking place – though they had to make compromises at the very beginning. ‘We initially wanted a five-bedroom house, and thought there was the potential to go into the loft,’ says Rachael. ‘However, we’re in a Conservation Area and weren’t allowed to add a dormer.'

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

For similar jars, try Kilner

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

'We’re also end-of-terrace with a hip-end roof – which means that while the floor space was there, we didn’t have enough head height. It would also have cost a lot to put the stairs in, so we scrapped that plan. Instead, we took the opportunity to dig up some of the front garden to make parking space.’

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

 ‘The hallway was already painted dark when we moved in and I wanted to keep that, so we painted part of the wall in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe,’ says Rachael. ‘We replaced every radiator in the house, opting for column radiators instead.’ Chandelier, John Lewis & Partners. Mirror, Oka. Rug, Laura Ashley

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The works, which involved reinstating damaged period features, adding a new shower room upstairs and a WC downstairs, giving the kitchen a makeover and installing new flooring throughout, took just two months to complete, despite the challenges the couple faced along the way. ‘I didn’t have experience project managing and wanted a contractor that could come in and do everything,’ says Rachael.

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

Round mirror, Select Mirrors, Pearl earring print, Juicy Home. Cabinet, Ebay, painted in Coal Black, Fusion Mineral Paint

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

‘But it turned out to be the decorators who were amazing from start to finish. They were the heroes in all of the renovation. They fixed a lot of jobs other trades should have fixed as they went on, especially issues with plaster work. Because some of the walls and ceilings had been painted with distemper paint, they had to scrape it off before they could paint over it.’

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

Dark colours and natural materials continue into the master bedroom. ‘We installed new carpets as I wanted to create a cosy feeling,’ says Rachael. ‘You lose a lot of detail when going dark, so I covered all the walls in embossed wallpaper to give it texture. When the light shines through you can see the details.’ Bed, Feather & Black. Bepurehome side tables, Wayfair. Wall light, Ikea

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Since the decorators moved out, Rachael has continued to add personal touches to make a house she’s known for so long her very own. Her favorite space is the living room at the front of the house. 

‘It’s the prettiest room and the space where I like to chill out,’ she says. ‘It used to be neutral and I wanted something warmer to make it feel cozy, so we went for Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke. Because the room has a laid-back, casual vibe, I wanted something fancy for the lighting in contrast, and I added a ceiling rose to complement the coving.’ 

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

‘I wanted to make Lily’s room a girly fun space without it all being pink,’ says Rachael. Wall painted in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe, mixed with white emulsion, and Annie Sloan’s English Yellow and Scandinavian Pink. Bed, Furniture.co.uk. Bedside drawers and chest of drawers, both Ikea

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

'I stencilled spots on the wall and painted the fireplace with chalk paint,’ says Rachael, Tassels, John Lewis & Partners. Stencils, Dizzy Duck Designs. Fireplace painted in English Yellow, Annie Sloan 

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The bathroom, meanwhile, feels light and spacious, with rustic brick slips adding texture, while upstairs, daughter Lily’s room is a fun, creative space with pops of color. Now all their hard work is done, Rachael and her family can sit back and relax – in a house that’s perfect for them.

Rachael and Matthew Wilshaw's family home has been renovated to ensure original features have become the stars of the show

The bathrooms saw some of the biggest changes of the project. ‘We put a shower room upstairs, took one of the toilets out and added a shower and a basin, too,’ Rachael says. ‘The main bathroom had the freestanding tub, and the wall tiles were already there when we moved in. We created a feature wall by papering one of the other walls.’ Walls painted in Green Smoke, Farrow & Ball. Floor tiles, Fired Earth

(Image credit: Katie Lee)