Real home: step inside this creative and contemporary home

By extending and renovating a dated 1950s house, the owners have created a family-friendly space that's perfect for kids big and small. Here's how they did it

Vintage velvet sofa in front of wall with bold yellow floral wallpaper
(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Creating a special place for their kids to grow up was the driving force behind Faye and Dave Campbell’s house renovation, and even though it was a stressful experience, Faye admits it was one of the best things they’ve ever done. After all, if your kids are happy, chances are you are too. 

Take a peek inside the couple's eclectic, child-friendly house in Surrey – and don't forget to check out our other stunning real home transformations for more interiors inspiration and find out how to renovate a house in our guide.

Exterior of a modern two-storey extension with sliding doors leading out to a terrace

 ‘The extension really comes into its own in the summer,’ says Faye. ‘It’s perfect when we have friends here – we can open up the entire kitchen-dining space to the garden for an indoor-outdoor feel.’  For similar white fibre cement cladding, try Marley Eternit  

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

 The owners
Faye Campbell, an artist, lives here with her husband Dave,
a lawyer, and children Joshua, 15, Elijah, 12, Jude, 11,
and Grace, eight

The property
A six-bedroom, 1950s detached house with an artist’s studio in the garden near Guildford, Surrey

'I must admit that I was pretty smitten as soon as I saw the garden and the views over the open countryside,' says Faye. 'We’d spent two years looking for a plot where we could build our own house, but nothing suitable ever came up. 

'We eventually saw this 1950s house eight years ago and, although it was nothing special in terms of how it looked, we could see it had the potential to grow with our family. 

'We always had in mind the kind of open-plan, welcoming home it could become, plus there was enough space outside for us to build a separate art studio for me to work from home. It’s definitely proved to be the right move for us – when the kids were younger it was great to know I could just open the doors and let them run round the garden to burn off some energy.'

Hallway with bold tiled floor and colourful storage

The entrance to Faye's house give a hint of the colourful décor in the other rooms

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

'We couldn’t afford to renovate straight away, so we had to live in the original house for three years while we saved up. In some ways it was a blessing in disguise as it gave us time to think about how we could improve the house to make it work for us as a family. I’m not sure we would have ended up with the house we’ve got now had we raced into it.'

Tiled kitchen island with two copper pendant lights above

The island unit was created from large breeze blocks, which have been covered in inexpensive tiles for a unique feature in the space. Island unit tiles, Tile Giant. Pendant lights, Ebay, finished with copper-effect spray paint from Hobbycraft. For a similar kitchen tap, try the Tre Mercati  in Antique Brass from Tap Warehouse

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

'We love having parties and wanted a big, sociable space with a kitchen, dining and living area leading out to the garden so the party could spill outside in the summer. With four kids, we also needed more bedroom space – extending into the loft has given us three extra bedrooms and a bathroom. 

'As the kids get older, it’s less likely they’ll want to spend all their time with us, so converting the garage into a separate living area means they can also go and watch TV on their own now.'

Kitchen with vintage dresser unit and colourful retro fridge

The stripy fridge from Smeg was the starting point for family's the kitchen scheme

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

'It makes me shudder just thinking about it again, but we stayed here throughout the build! We moved into the half-finished art studio space, and we basically camped out in one big room for five months. We didn’t have any hot water so I had to take the kids to the gym to give them a shower, and we lived on microwave meals. 

'It did make me question what on earth we were doing, but the kids seemed to take it all in their stride. I suppose to them it was just a big adventure.Thankfully the weather was fairly mild – it could have been a lot worse, but it’s definitely not an experience I’d like to repeat any time soon.'

Hallway with a home office space, vintage furniture and gallery wall

Faye created the feature wall in the entrance hall by pasting pages from a book on the wall and covering them with PVA glue for a long-lasting finish. An eclectic collection of artwork adds the finishing touch. For similar wallpaper, try Rasch’s newspaper picture collage vintage wallpaper, I Want Wallpaper. For similar ornate gold picture frames, try Ayers & Graces

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

What did you find was the hardest part to deal with?
'Just trying to get on with family life, I suppose. It’s difficult enough to get the kids out of bed, dressed and ready for school on time on a normal day, but it’s 10 times worse when you’ve got builders there asking you questions before the school run! 

'Living with the builders became part of our daily life, but I was relieved when the work was finished and we had the house to ourselves again.'

Kid's bedroom with a large Union Jack wall mural

Extending into the loft has created space for three extra bedrooms for the kids. Faye painted the Union Jack floor-to-ceiling mural in Jude’s bedroom herself.  For a similar Union Jack mural, try Murals Wallpaper

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Real Homes Feb 2019 mag

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What’s made the biggest difference to the house and how has it changed family life for you?
'Adding the two-storey extension has given us this fantastic double-height dining area overlooking the garden. That, coupled with the more open-plan layout, has transformed our home and the way we live in it. 

'I love spending time in the kitchen, and the kids naturally find their way to this part of the house when they come back from school – probably for something to eat rather than to speak to me, though!' 

Kid's bedroom with colourful graffiti wall

Faye put her creative skills to good use in son Josh’s bedroom, adding graffiti-style artwork to the main wall. ‘It’s great for the kids to feel like they have an input into the design of their rooms,’ she says. For similar graffiti-style wall mural, try Mr Perswall. For a similar red storage cabinet, try the PS metal cabinet from Ikea

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

What really stands out is the way your artwork brings your home to life. It shows what an instant impact it can have. What advice can you give to other people on choosing the right pieces for their home?
'Artwork can really change the feel of space and it’s so easy to update if you fancy a change. You need to consider the size, proportions and shape of the room where you’re going to hang it, but try not to overthink it. Go for designs and colours that you love and you can’t really go wrong.'

Piano in front of a wall covered in contemporary artwork

White walls and floors are the ideal blank canvas for Faye’s collection of neon-painted artwork. She’s also added a designer touch to a plain white chandelier by draping it with a selection of necklaces she made herself. Chandelier, B&Q. Artwork, Faye Campbell 

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Here at Real Homes, we're most envious of the fact that you can work from home every day and only have a short stroll across the garden to get to your studio. Is it as idyllic as it sounds?
'When the kids were younger it was invaluable – it made it so much easier to juggle work and home life. It’s definitely a luxury to have my own studio, but one of the downsides is that I can’t get that separation from home life. It can be difficult to completely switch off, but it’s a small price to pay for it all, though!' 

artist studio with vibrant modern artwork

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

So with the house finally finished, was all the stress and hard work worth it?
'Most definitely. The house is exactly what we imagined it would be. It’s perfect for our family, and that’s the best you can hope for.'  

Kid's bedroom with a vintage metal bed and floral wallpaper

Daughter Grace's bedroom features a mix of new and vintage buys. For similar vintage-style iron bed, try the Wilton bed, Soak & Sleep  

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

More lovely real home transformations:

Beth Murton
Beth first started working on Real Homes as a sub-editor over 15 years ago. Since then she has worked on 4Homes, Grand Designs and as a freelancer, before returning to Real Homes for the third time. She is Acting Editor on the magazine and always has a makeover project of some kind on the go.