Real home: an elegant Georgian townhouse decorated in bold shades

Melanie and Russell Lissack have updated an elegant Georgian townhouse with clever design ideas, simple DIY projects and heritage colours, to create a stylish family home

blue living room with grey sofa
(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )

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.’

Read on to find out how she breathed fresh life into this stunning Georgian home, then browse the rest of our real home transformations. Also don't miss our these 10 wonderful Georgian homes

exterior of house with homeowner

Melanie was instantly won over by the elegant entrance to her home. The door is painted in Oxford Blue by Dulux 

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )
The Story

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.

mantlepiece with candles and decorations

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )

 ‘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. 

blue living room with grey sofa

Melanie took her time choosing the perfect paint colour for her living room, wanting a shade that would highlight the arched French doors. She eventually opted for Dix Blue by Farrow &
Ball
. The grey sofa is from Heal’s, complemented by a
Moroccan-inspired rug from
Wayfair

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )

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. 

In the home office, Hick’s Hexagon wallpaper from Cole & Son is used behind simple shelving. Above the fireplace is a ‘Bird Girl’ print by artist Elle Vandoorne from Rise Art. The chimney breast is painted in Railings by Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )

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.’ 

blue kitchen with terracotta tiles

Melanie updated the kitchen units using Farrow & Ball’s Clunch and Hague Blue, to pick out the blue in the floor tiles, and adding copper handles from All Handles & Pulls

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )

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. 

Children's bedroom with london themed wallpaper over fireplace

London theme wallpaper by Graham & Brown is a fun addition to Jaxon’s room. The wardrobe is from Ikea, with ceramic handles found on Etsy 

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )

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.’

Bathroom with blue freestanding bath in bathroom with panelled walls

Melanie gave the bathroom a new look with wooden panelling and Cole & Son’s Hummingbird wallpaper, which she coated with clear varnish to waterproof it. The side tables are from Ikea, now sprayed in gold paint. The antique gilt mirror belonged to Russell’s grandmother

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )

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. 

Grey master bedroom with white iron bed and pink details

Designer purchases are mixed with high-street buys in the master bedroom. The copper pendant is a Tom Dixon light fitting from Heal’s, while the bedside lights are from Ikea. Melanie made the stool at end of the bed herself. For a similar bed frame, try The Original Bed Co’s Melrose 

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )
MORE FROM PERIOD LIVING

(Image credit: Period Living)

Get the best period home inspiration, ideas and advice straight to your door every month with a subscription to Period Living magazine

‘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.’

upcycled an old dressing table with Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe paint

Melanie upcycled an old dressing table with Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe paint, adding handles from Anthropologie. Try Ornate Gilt Mirrors for similar 

(Image credit: Oliver Gordon )

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.’

TAKE A TOUR AROUND MORE ELEGANT TOWNHOUSES: