Fond memories of watching her mum decorate the family home gave Melanie the skills she needed to tackle the renovation of her own period house. ‘That’s how I learned to paint and hang wallpaper,’ says Melanie, ‘and it gave me the confidence to try things out here.’
Owners Melanie Lissack, a blogger and interior
design consultant (melanielissackinteriors.com), lives here with her husband Russell, a musician, their son, Jaxon, three, and Bowser the dog
Property A three-bedroom, Georgian detached house in Loughton, Essex
What they did The house was
in good repair, so most of the work was decorative
Home for Melanie and husband Rob today is a beautiful Georgian house on the edge of Epping Forest in Essex, which they bought after deciding to swap their central London maisonette for a more family-friendly home.
‘When Jaxon was born we noticed how noisy and busy London felt and we needed a change of scene,’ explains Melanie.
‘Although we wanted more of a country life, we also needed to be near to the city for work. We wanted the best of both worlds and this area offered us just that.’
When she first saw the estate agent’s photos, Melanie thought the house was too small, but Russell persuaded her to view it.
‘As soon as I saw it in person I was totally smitten. The pretty door and driveway won me over, and inside the rooms had a lovely feel and were full of light. We put in an offer on the spot,’ she says.
As the previous owners had renovated the property from top to bottom, the house was in good shape but it lacked character. ‘They’d done all the hard graft, including changing the windows,’ says Melanie.
‘However, all the rooms were painted beige or cream. My plan was to add colour to every room to reflect our personalities. As I was on maternity leave at the time, it was the ideal-sized project for us to take on.
The couple lived in the house for two months, taking in the changing natural light and the proportions of the property, before they picked up a paint brush. It wasn’t long, however, before Melanie was ready to get started on the redesign, and the open-plan kitchen and dining area on the lower-ground floor became her priority.
‘The kitchen units were painted in a canary yellow against cream walls,’ she recalls. ‘I decided to paint the doors navy to pick out the accent colour in the floor tiles, and added small copper handles.’
Next, she tackled the upstairs rooms, giving her bedroom a makeover first. ‘The hallway in our London flat was this exact tone of grey and I’d really missed it, so that’s why I went for this shade,’ she explains. Jaxon’s room was given a London theme with a quirky printed wallpaper decorated with double-decker buses, policemen and red telephone boxes as she wanted him to feel a connection to the city.
The bathroom was transformed from a beach-themed suite complete with seashells into a pretty vintage-style bathroom with a decorative bird-patterned wallpaper and gold accents. ‘I fitted the shutters and put up brackets for the marble shelves,’ says Melanie. ‘I carefully varnished the wallpaper to make sure it was waterproof and wouldn’t peel in steamy conditions.’
Melanie shopped around on Ebay and in local charity furniture warehouses for bargains. ‘If I can’t find what I want, then I’ll make it,’ she says.
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‘I wanted a specific style of wardrobe for my guest bedroom, which would have cost a fortune to have made bespoke. I worked out the design in my head, then had MDF cut to size that I fitted together with a drill.’
Melanie also made the glamorous pink stool at the end of her bed, using foam and hairpin legs found on Ebay to create an inexpensive finishing touch for her scheme.
Within six months Melanie had decorated the entire house, including the elegant hallway and the living room with its bold blue colour scheme.
‘It took me a week to paint the hallway and landing as there are three flights of stairs,’ she recalls. ‘I was decorating it when Jaxon was taking his naps or late into the night. I’m never one to shy away from a painting challenge!’
Melanie’s love of decorating and DIY inspired her to set up her own home décor blog and when her maternity leave finished, she set up as an interior design consultant.’
When it comes to her own home, however, Melanie sees it as a constantly evolving space. ‘I still have lots of plans – I want wallpaper in my bedroom to add a layer of warmth, and I plan to finish the guest bedroom. I like to switch things around, so I’m excited to see how my home will evolve as my style changes over time.’