Real home: a bright home transformation with a Mid-century twist

Colourful rooms, 1940s design and Greek heirloom pieces combine in a luxe scheme reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Many of us find that trying to balance our jobs and our home life is a constant battle between hitting deadlines, family time and hastily scheduled drinks with friends. For Jenny and Anthony, creating that balance was a key reason for their big house move. 

‘We both grew up in small towns in Greece, so we were after a slower pace of life,’ Jenny explains. ‘After a full day in London, we wanted to come home to a relaxed environment.’ In the two weeks between getting the keys and moving in, Jenny and Anthony tasked themselves with bringing the house up to scratch.

Find out how she did it, then browse all our real home transformations. For practical advice on how to renovate a house, read our essential guide.

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

 One of Jenny’s favourite buys is the coffee table. ‘I’d been looking for something like it for a long time,’ she says. ‘I didn’t want a glass top as we might want to put our feet on it, and  I didn’t want a fabric ottoman I couldn’t leave pizza boxes on. This one from La Redoute is reclaimed wood with a shelf for my books.’ White armchairs, West Elm (opens in new tab). Paint, Cornforth White (opens in new tab), Farrow & Ball. Purple rug, The Rug Seller (opens in new tab). Flooring, Floorsave.co.uk (opens in new tab). Side tables, Houseology (opens in new tab). Lamps, Wayfair (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)

‘We skimmed the Artex ceilings, painted the walls, stripped back the brown carpets and put in oak laminate throughout the house to create flow,’ Jenny says. ‘Those 14 days were so intense that for the next six months, we didn’t want to put a single nail in the wall!’  

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

Beautiful scarves have been mounted and hung as vivid pieces of art, their bright colours picked out in the velvet sofa and rug in shades of purple. Green sofa (opens in new tab), Sofa Workshop at DFS. Hermès scarves in frames from Caterham Galleries (opens in new tab). Astral wallpaper, Jane Churchill (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)
PROFILE

 

The owners  Jenny Kakoudakis, a financial crime compliance worker, her husband Anthony, a management consultant, their son, George, and black Labrador Bella

The property  A five-bedroom 1980s detached house in Warlingham, Surrey

Project cost £15,600

When the couple did start decorating, Jenny was full of ideas. ‘We’d lived in rental properties for so long, where you can’t add any colours other than black, white or magnolia,’ she says. 

‘We wanted to give the place some character and colour. We love Mid-century design and tried to combine pieces from that era with more modern items, as well as with pieces we’ve brought over from Greece – pieces that belonged to our families.’

Inspired by designers like Abigail Ahern, Jenny decided to go bold with her spaces. Some rooms worked better than others. ‘My office has two dark walls to add a little bit of drama without being too claustrophobic,’ she says. ‘But I originally painted my husband’s study pitch black, including the ceiling. We needed a flashlight to see! Eventually, I decided to add wallpaper to lighten it up. Anthony was like, “Thank God! I was beginning to feel really depressed in there.”.'

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

 A mix of Mid-century design, inherited pieces and modern touches create a pulled-together but eclectic scheme in the living room. Oriental rug, Aion.gr (opens in new tab). Wall painted in Mole's Breath (opens in new tab), Farrow & Ball. The loveseat is a family heirloom. Footrest, DFS. (opens in new tab) Lamp, John Lewis (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)

Jenny’s black and white office was inspired by a mural she won in a competition – a monochrome tree design with a linen texture. She initially wanted an extended desk space, but the quotes she got from joiners were out of her budget. 

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

‘I take a lot of inspiration from Abigail Ahern,’ Jenny says. ‘I attended one of her workshops in Anthropologie on Regent  Street, where she explained the process of going darker and embracing bold colours.’ Desk, Ikea (opens in new tab). Chairs, Eames via John Lewis (opens in new tab). Zebra head, Anthropologie (opens in new tab). Walls painted in Railings (opens in new tab), Farrow & Ball. Prints, Desenio (opens in new tab). Ceiling light, Sotto Luce via Made in Design (opens in new tab). Desk lamps, Anglepoise (opens in new tab). Rug, The Rug Seller (opens in new tab). Shelving, Ikea (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)

‘I had a desk from my old office and George had a smaller one in his room, and it just happened that those fitted together perfectly,’ she says. ‘It means I can supervise him when he’s doing his homework, and it’s a fun area for him as well – it’s a creative environment with lots of things to look at around the room.’

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

 ‘We used a lot of Mid-century furniture in this room, including a captain’s desk from the 1940s,’ Jenny says. ‘The Enigma wallpaper is a 1940s’ design, too. It is actually about coding during the Second World War, and my husband is a very keen mathematician, so it all comes together beautifully.’ Wallpaper, Enigma by Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). Desk, Stunningly Restored 

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)

Jenny’s collection of artwork features in nearly every room. ‘I change it around quite a lot,’ she says. ‘I have a few favourite online sources – Art Republic (opens in new tab) and Southsea Art (opens in new tab), for example. I try to find either limited-edition prints, which I invest in as a long-term purchase, or cheaper prints to change the style.’ 

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

 The on-trend blue-green of the kitchen was a complete accident – it was inherited from the previous owner. ‘We haven’t touched the kitchen,’ Jenny says. ‘But there’s no point in changing anything yet. The cabinets are new and we’re planning an extension in a few years.’ Flooring, Amtico (opens in new tab). Citrus press, Sage by Heston Blumenthal (opens in new tab). Coffee machine, De’Longhi (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)
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She’s convinced that the trend for gallery walls will give way to something more considered. ‘I think bigger artworks, limited-edition paintings or originals are going to be the way forward,’ she says. ‘We’re going to get tired of having busy walls.

A big part of Jenny’s design is about luxury. The mid-century furniture and Art Deco touches around the house certainly evoke sumptuousness – including the bedroom, with brass wall lights and a light pink velvet scalloped bed from DFS. 

‘It was a discontinued model, but a week after it went off their website, I called them and begged them to make one last one,’ Jenny laughs. ‘Luckily, they had enough fabric for one more.’

The living room is carefully zoned. ‘Because it’s a long, double-aspect room, it was difficult to create one united space,’ Jenny says. ‘We’ve separated it into two areas: there’s a TV corner and a more formal seating area.’ 

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

The Art Deco touches to Jenny and Anthony’s bedroom were inspired by Hotel Henrietta in Paris. ‘We wanted it to be relaxing and a little bit more luxurious – having the upholstered bed was important,’ Jenny says. Brass accents, including the wall lights, which were bought in New York, complete the look. Bed, DFS (opens in new tab). Bedlinen, throw and blinds, John Lewis (opens in new tab). Cushions, Zara Home (opens in new tab) and John Lewis. Walls painted in Denim Drift (opens in new tab) and White Cotton (opens in new tab), Dulux. Wall lamps, Rough Luck Studio (opens in new tab). For a similar ceiling light, try Charles Edwards Antiques (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)

Mid-century furniture dominates the space. ‘The point is to add character,’ Jenny adds. ‘We have heirloom pieces that we brought over from Greece and reupholstered, and we mix them up with Mid-century styles, such as a green velvet sofa and West Elm armchairs.’

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

Jenny wanted her guest bedroom to evoke the style of a high-end B&B. ‘When you think of an English B&B, you think of wallpapers and florals,’ Jenny explains. ‘Some of the colours have a neon accent to them, which makes it feel contemporary. When we finished my husband said, “Can we move into this room now?”.’ Bed, Sofas n Stuff (opens in new tab). Bed covers, Designers Guild (opens in new tab). Throw, Zara Home (opens in new tab). Cushions, John Lewis (opens in new tab). Paradise wallpaper in Feather,  Little Greene (opens in new tab). Bedside lamp, Pooky  (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)

Jenny’s biggest tip for homebuyers is to plan in advance. ‘It might take you a lot of time to get to the style that you want,’ she says. ‘You might need to work one room at a time, so for  some time you won’t have very good flow through the house. Before you have the keys in your hand, have a plan and create moodboards.’ 

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

‘George loves to read – he’s always walking around the house with a book in his hand, which makes me want to scream sometimes because they’re everywhere,’ Jenny laughs. ‘He was spending so much time sitting on the floor, hunched over, that I decided to create a reading nook for him.’ Chair (opens in new tab) and lamp, (opens in new tab) Made.com. Bookshelf, Ikea (opens in new tab). Curtains, Little Home at John Lewis (opens in new tab). Steel Symphony 1 (opens in new tab) and Steel Symphony 4 (opens in new tab) wall paint, Dulux. Rug, The Rug Seller (opens in new tab). Lego storage, John Lewis (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)
CONTACTS

 

Flooring Floorsave (opens in new tab), 020 3837 9950

Wallpaper & paint Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab); Dulux (opens in new tab)Little Greene (opens in new tab)

While it’s taken a good few years to get to where they are now, Jenny and her family feel the benefits of having a well thought-out home. ‘It addresses our needs,’ she adds. ‘It has plenty of colour, and we feel relaxed when we step through the door after a long day at work. It’s a reflection of our character, our hobbies and our lives.’

Jenny and Anthony Kakoudakis combine colour, heirloom pieces and mid-century style in a home reminiscent of a Parisian hotel

The house offered the relaxed environment combined with plenty of space that the couple was looking for

(Image credit: malcolm menzies)

Want to incorporate colour into your scheme? Find more inspiration here...

Ellen Finch
Ellen Finch

Joining as features editor in 2017, Ellen now looks after the day-to-day running of Real Homes magazine as deputy editor. She also commissions and writes many of the real case studies you'll see on the site, and loves speaking to people about their homes and get the details on the hacks they've tried and loved. She's currently gearing up to buy a home of her own in 2023 – hopefully with a garden to plant veg and wildflowers – and has a special interest in sustainable living, clever book storage, and cats.

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