Although both Olivia Scullion and Mark Waterer spent most of their teenage years living on the Isle of Wight, their paths weren’t to cross until they met in London in their 20s. ‘I was living in Sweden at the time and was visiting friends in the city when I met Mark in Covent Garden,’ recalls Olivia. ‘It’s not often you meet someone who has lived on the Isle of Wight, and when you do, you feel a certain affinity.’
When the opportunity came for them relocate there, the couple jumped at the chance, and transformed a Victorian terrace into an idyllic home by the sea, decorated in a style influenced by Olivia's Scandinavian background.
If are inspired to tackle your own house restoration, we have lots of ideas and helpful advice on what to do and where to start in our feature on house renovation.
The owners Olivia Scullion (@trulynordic), a clinical research associate, her partner, Mark Waterer, an audio visual design engineer, and their Japanese Shiba Inu, Tamu
The property A two-bedroom Victorian terrace in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
Project cost £40,000
After their first meeting, Olivia moved to join Mark in London, where they rented a flat in West Hampstead. Though she was born in Sweden and Mark in Kenya, both had a hankering to return to the island where they grew up, so when Olivia was given the chance to work from home, the couple took the opportunity to relocate. ‘As Mark works away for most of the week and my parents still live on the island, it made sense to make a home here where I could be nearer family, particularly as the property prices suited our tight budget more than London,’ she adds.
They were keen on finding a renovation project they could put their stamp on, eventually spotting it in the quaint harbour town of Yarmouth on the west coast. ‘Although it’s not as big or bustling as Cowes, there’s a lovely vibe here with art galleries, cool cafes, and rows of pretty period homes,’ says Olivia. ‘We fell head over heels for this Victorian terrace as soon as we saw it, even if it was in a sad, run-down state.’ She admits that as first-time renovators, they were a little naïve as to how big a DIY project they’d taken on. ‘We planned to do most of the work ourselves. Fortunately, the house had great bones and we didn’t need to make any big structural changes. It was simply a case of gutting it and reinstating its character.’
Living at Olivia’s parents nearby for the best part of a year, the couple spent all their free time on the renovation. The first job was to create a bigger kitchen by removing a couple of non-load-bearing walls that housed a tiny utility and downstairs toilet. They then added dark contemporary French doors and a matching picture window over the sink. ‘As this room can be prone to darkness, we wanted to keep it warm and inviting with earthy tones and textures, so we went with rich, wooden cabinets and tumbled sandstone floor tiles for their cosy Nordic vibes,’ says Olivia.
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The pair then fitted the units and wooden worktops themselves, and called in the professionals to install the plumbing and electrics. ‘Learning DIY via YouTube tutorials not only saved us a fortune on labour costs, it also meant we could bespoke the look to get exactly what we wanted.’
The couple’s newfound skills were put to the test in the living space when they had to scrape off a layer of tar covering the old floorboards by hand. ‘It was horrible and took ages, but revealing them was totally worth the effort. We then enhanced their natural beauty with a clear oil,’ says Olivia.
The couple stuck to brilliant white on the walls, with the period skirting boards and door frames painted a soothing grey. In the seating area, Olivia teamed a linen sofa with vintage cane tables and chairs for a calm feel, while a mix of heirlooms and vintage finds in the dining space create a classic feel. She continued these subtle pops of pattern and colour upstairs, too, where the vibrant blue statement wall in the master bedroom enhances the period fireplace.
The result was a neutral home that could be changed up easily. ‘We added character through pattern, colour and textures, and these can all get a refresh or a seasonal change. A house has to tell a story about its owners, and we feel we successfully brought together our unique heritages in this place that we both love.’