This dreamy home makeover has kick-started an interior design career

A loft conversion and stylish new kitchen have made Caroline Kilgour’s home perfect for family life, where old and new styles are paired to perfection

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

After living in their London flat for over 10 years, and with a second baby on the way, Caroline and Stephen Kilgour felt it was time to return to the North East.

"Although we have family in Darlington, we wanted to be in a city," says communications manager turned interior designer Caroline. "We did a few recces and loved the vibe in Heaton, Newcastle. The main street has some lovely shops and restaurants, which swung it."

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The owners Caroline Kilgour, an interior designer
(@room_service_by_caroline), her husband, Stephen, an education advisor, and their children, Albie and Isabelle
The property A four-bedroom Victorian terrace in Heaton, Newcastle
Project cost £50,000 to £60,000

After selling their home in Streatham, London, the couple moved into rented accommodation in central London until their daughter was born. Fortunately, they found a four-bedroom Victorian house in their preferred area quite quickly. "Everything felt very spacious and light when we walked into the hallway with lovely high ceilings," says Caroline. "We could move in and put our stamp on it without it being a huge fixer-upper."

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

"To disguise the tired uPVC window and frame, I used chalk paint in a matt finish, which also saved money," says Caroline. Window frame painted in Rainbow The One chalk paint. Tap and built-in microwave, Ikea. Worktop, North East Marble & Granite

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Daughter Isabelle was born in London not long after they bought the house. "It was stressful trying to pack up a flat with a newborn, and there was a heatwave the day we moved — that made the drive fun!" recalls Caroline. "I was desperate to nest and make it ours, so we got cracking straight away."

Faced with "wall-to-wall magnolia", son Albie’s bedroom and the main bedroom were decorated first. A woodburning stove was installed in the living room along with alcove bookshelves before the pair jumped headlong into renovating the kitchen-diner and converting the attic into a guest bedroom and en suite.

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

"We loved the log burner in our London flat and wanted to recreate that," says Caroline. "Originally we were going to tile the recess but we loved the raw brick when the gas fire was ripped out. We added the sleeper from a local wood reclamation yard." Grey corner sofa, Ikea. Reclaimed sleeper, Newcastle Wood Recycling. Art print, More or Less mag poster. Cushions made using Designers Guild fabric and Toile fabric, John Lewis & Partners. Wood burner, Fires in Stone

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The five-week project involved adding bi-folds to the dining area and new kitchen, while the top floor needed a new staircase, skylights and steel joists to be classified as a bedroom. The roof was retiled while the scaffolding was up.

"Before the attic was just storage space with a pull-down ladder — you could even see into next door’s attic," says Caroline. A lot of thought went into the new layout. "We initially thought we couldn’t squeeze in an en suite," she explains. "However, the adjustments made to the space to meet building regulations configured the room slightly differently, giving us the space we needed for a shower area."

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

" wanted to keep the brickwork of the original chimneys as a feature, which led to an industrial loft feel in here," says Caroline. "The Artist Residence boutique hotels were a big reference point, with a simple palette that lets the raw materials speak." Bedspread, TK Maxx. Bed, Argos. Vintage Habitat lamp with shade in fabric from Absolutely Fabrics. Bedside table, Aldi. Bottle vases, auctions, and antique shops. Rugs, Homesense and Lidl

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

Caroline made this window into a reading area by painting it blue. "I wanted it to have its own identity rather than being a weird corner," she says. Chair and floor lamp, family heirlooms. Rug, Lidl. Porcelain plinth, Ikea with Habitat globe light. Recess painted in Inchyra Blue, Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Rather than snaffle the attic bedroom for themselves, it doubles up as a guest bedroom and Stephen’s office. "We prefer having our bedroom on the same floor as the children," explains Caroline. "It was the best thing  we did as it means we have a whole floor to offer guests."

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

"I love the grid tile with contrasting grout  – like a maths book – and slightly retro-looking peachy pink wall tiles in the en suite," says Caroline. "Our joiner made the wooden shelf." Matrix wall tiles in Blossom Pink; and Shapes Hexagon matt black and white mosaic floor tiles, both Topps Tiles. Wood counter, Percy Hudson timber merchant. Basin and tap, Roca 

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Although the new kitchen layout is similar, replacing the white uPVC French doors with black bi-folds, updating the back door and replacing the tired cream units with a modern sage green design has made a huge difference. "At first I wanted Crittall windows, but we compromised with black aluminum frames that have a similar vibe and still really maximize the south-west facing light,’ says Caroline. "It’s lovely to have the one main family space where we cook and eat together."

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

Buying different handles and adding Quartz worktops has elevated the budget kitchen. "Before it had jazzy tiles, dark teal walls in the kitchen and vivid yellow walls in the dining area," says Caroline. "Now it feels much calmer and lighter." Bodarp kitchen, oven and hood, Ikea. Handles, Amazon. Schumacher Citrus Garden fabric, Absolutely Fabrics

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Throughout the house, the key thread has been mixing old and new. "Ultimately I wanted the décor to be sympathetic to the house," says Caroline. "I like clean lines and classic styles with pops of color. Trusting your instincts is one thing, but mood boards can be really helpful to collate all your ideas and see if things look right together."

Having previously been a communications manager, moving home led Caroline to switch careers. During lockdown she started an online interior design business (@room_service_by_caroline). "It satisfies my creative interests and gives me flexibility with a young family," she says. "I love helping other people reimagine their rooms." Caroline admits she’s learned a lot from renovating her home. "Planning is everything," she says. "You need to think of every little thing to avoid any last-minute rash decision making."

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

Deep blue walls work well with dark wood vintage furniture in Albie’s bedroom. "It was quite bland before, but the power of paint is so transformative," says Caroline. "I updated the headboard of our old bed with red yarn, which cost next to nothing, and a friend made the London Underground throw." Walls painted in Stiffkey Blue and Skylight, Farrow & Ball. Bed, Bensons for Beds. Side table (sprayed red), Ikea. Drawers, family heirloom. London Olympics 2012 poster by Howard Hodgkin. Rug, H&M Home

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

"I remember loving how light and spacious this bedroom felt when we looked around the house, but again, I knew there was so much scope to make it our own," says Caroline. "Changing the layout was essential to the flow of the room, and I love the restful pink color we went for on the walls." Walls painted in Calamine, Farrow & Ball. Blanket, vintage. Wall lights, Made. Drawers, Ebay. Lamp base, Streatham Antiques. Shade recovered with striped fabric, Absolutely Fabrics

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

She has no regrets about moving north either. "We love the area; the
nearby beaches are beautiful, schools are within walking distance and
the city center is on our doorstep," she says. "My sister’s just moved up
to Newcastle, so I definitely think we’ll be here for a long time."

Caroline Kilgour’s Newcastle home has been expanded for family life with a loft conversion and new kitchen

Caroline removed the pale green and magnolia textured wallpaper during lockdown. "The hall’s one of my favorite areas; I love the calm colors. I’ve added a few antique/charity shop finds, and grasses from the garden." Walls painted in Setting Plaster and Charleston Gray, Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Katie Lee)
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