Caroline and Simon Everard returned from their honeymoon in 2008 to a home that had been transformed. They had planned a redesign while organising their wedding, and the work took place while they were out of the country.
‘This house belonged to Simon long before we met,’ Caroline explains, ‘and I didn’t move in until after our honeymoon, when he picked me up and carried me over the threshold.’
When Caroline first met Simon he had already completed renovation work on the property, extending the kitchen sideways and into the back garden. He had also raised the roof in the loft’s guest bedroom and updated the two bathrooms.
The owners: Caroline Everard, a housewife, lives here with her husband Simon, who runs his own market research agency
‘I was very impressed by what he had done, but it was very much a bachelor pad,’ adds Caroline, who had recently sold her own flat and was living with her sister. ‘As soon as we started planning our wedding, we started thinking about turning Simon’s house into our home,’ she continues. ‘I must admit, the décor wasn’t really to my taste. I like soothing neutral shades, while Simon prefers bright colours – several rooms had been painted yellow.’
Simon’s house was a vibrant mix of influences from all over the world. ‘He was born in Kenya and had lived in South Africa, Swaziland, Greece and India as a child,’ Caroline explains. ‘He particularly loves oriental and ethnic styles.’
Caroline remembers her first impression of the sitting room, with its varnished pine floorboards. ‘The moment you walked in, all you saw were the orange floorboards and pine fireplace,’ she says.
On the first floor, the master bedroom was sparse with yellow walls – and Simon’s two cats, Ella and Jas, even had their own room. ‘Although I adored them, our need for a second guest room was greater, so they sleep downstairs now,’ says Caroline.
The couple agreed that they needed to compromise over the décor while incorporating favourite pieces and colours. They talked through their ideas, then called in Nicola Pratt and Anne Marie Sochanik of interior designers LIFE Style just four months before their wedding day.
‘I was worried that we’d end up with a stalemate and it would take ages to achieve the perfect look,’ Caroline admits. ‘I then hit upon the idea of giving Nicola and Anne Marie a scrapbook of magazine cuttings to explain my style – relaxed, stylish, elegant, greys, neutrals and mixing old with new. They got the feel for Simon’s style – yellow, green and natural materials like wood and iron – by walking around the house, then they simply integrated the two.’
Not all of the rooms needed a redesign, however. The kitchen-diner and two bathrooms were fine as they had already been updated or renovated.
‘Generally, though, the style of the house just needed to be softened,’ says LIFE Style’s Nicola. ‘We simply created a series of mood boards and presented our ideas to Caroline and Simon.’
Nicola and Anne Marie then turned their ideas into reality. They started work at the top of the house in the master bedroom, where they stripped the floorboards and painted them white to create a neutral canvas for the furnishings and to brighten the space. They painted the yellow walls in a cool lavender grey shade, which now works beautifully with Caroline’s grey lamps and satin cushions.
As Caroline thought Simon’s bedding was a little too masculine, it was swapped for plain white bedlinen with a lavender quilt. She wanted to replace his black metal bed and side tables, but Simon was adamant about keeping them.
‘I’m happy with the compromise,’ says Caroline. ‘Our room is neither too feminine nor too masculine now.’
Next, Nicola and Anne Marie moved on to the loft guest room, keeping the existing neutral carpet but painting the yellow walls in a grey taupe. The pine bed was painted off-white before being subtly distressed.
‘It now looks really welcoming, just like a stylish hotel room,’ says Caroline. ‘Our friends and family love sleeping in there when they come to stay.’
The second bedroom, which was once the domain of the cats, has been given a feminine makeover. Caroline’s bright fuchsia chair inspired the pink, cream and white décor, with its pink tones picked out in the new bedlinen.
The main attraction though is the downstairs sitting room which has been transformed into an elegant space with white-painted floorboards, console tables in the alcoves, flattering lamplight instead of downlighters and – for the wow-factor – an ethnic-style cowhide rug.
When Simon carried Caroline over the threshold into their new home, she could barely believe what the two designers had achieved in such a short space of time.
‘When I opened the door to the sitting room, it was just like that moment on DIY SOS when the owners first see their new makeover,’ laughs Caroline.
‘We were amazed at how much the white-painted floorboards have brightened up the rooms here. LIFE Style has achieved something that we could never have done on our own,’ she adds. ‘It’s so stylish and welcoming – everything we wanted.’
|LIFE Style interior design, furnishing and accessories||£20,000|