Before & After: A Victorian Went from Completely Bland to Colorfully Whimsical

Before & After: A Victorian Went from Completely Bland to Colorfully Whimsical

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Name: Lucy Hamilton, her partner Stephen, and daughters 8-year-old Darcey, and 5-year-old Alice
Location: UK
Type of Home: Victorian semi 
Years lived in: 6 years, owned

Lucy Hamilton’s Victorian semi-attached house has four bedrooms over three narrow floors and lots of architectural character (like delightful old fireplaces). But it’s not the house’s history that makes it stand apart… it’s Lucy’s colorful, one-of-a-kind, whimsical style. She runs an online decor store called Lucy Hamilton at Home, which, along with her home, is a perfect encapsulation of her design style: Bright colors, cute art, fun wallpapers, and whimsical accessories. It all blends together to create an incredibly cozy and happy home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Whimsical, happy, colorful, and pretty 

Inspiration: Disney. “Alice in Wonderland”

Favorite Element: The kitchen when the doors are open, looking at the garden. Also, the wall mural. It’s a pretty and magical space. 

Biggest Challenge: Our kitchen; see before pics. It’s very narrow. And there was no dining area. We knocked out all the cupboards at the end and painted the cabinets. We also laid a white floor to brighten it up. 

Proudest DIY: Painted stair runners! Very time consuming. But love love them. 

Biggest Indulgence: All my wallpapers are very expensive. The one in the living room on the fireplace wall was £185 per roll. I love it, so it was worth every penny!

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Wall mural in kitchen by Woodchip & Magnolia. And our playhouses. 

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t be boring, don’t just make your whole room gray! Take a chance, paint things… can change easily. Mix cheap with expensive! Mix patterns and textures for layered look. 

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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A Biophilic Interior Designer’s Nature-Inspired UK Home Is Green and Gorgeous

A Biophilic Interior Designer’s Nature-Inspired UK Home Is Green and Gorgeous

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Name: Sharon Lomas, Garry Lomas, Max the Cocker Spaniel
Location: Cumbria, United Kingdom
Size: 2000 square feet
Type of Home: Four-bedroom Victorian Detached Rectory
Years lived in: 14 months, renting

Our home is a Victorian rectory, which was originally built for a brewery owner in 1861, the old brewery mill is still nearby and his initials are carved in the stone above the door. I have always loved Victorian architecture and our home is full of original period features such as high ceilings, original timber floors, sash windows with shutters, and a sandstone fireplace. It’s really a dream come true to live in a house like this where the sense of history is tangible. We discovered this village by chance while on holiday and fell in love.

We are in a secluded area of a national park, which means we have all the benefits of the breathtaking landscape yet without hordes of tourists. What we love most about the area is having mountains, lakes, and moorlands on our doorstep, and we are only 20 miles from the coast and we can see Scotland on the horizon. We moved here because of our love of nature and the landscape. My husband Garry is a landscape and wildlife photographer and I am a biophilic interior designer, so living so close to nature has always been our dream and inspires our work.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would say my style is maximalist; I love color and pattern. I am particularly obsessed with the color green and have a love affair with plants.

Inspiration: I love nature; being cocooned by the landscape is very important to me, which is why we chose to live in this area. The whole region has an atmosphere like no other place I’ve lived. Having such a close connection to nature makes me happy, nourishes my well-being, and this is my inspiration.

I have reflected this love of nature in my home, using the principles and patterns of biophilic design to create a restorative and nurturing interior. I took my inspiration for my mostly green color palette from the natural spaces I love and filled my spaces with plants. Living with plants is very soothing to me and I love to nurture them and watch them grow. Every texture I use is natural (wood, linen, sheepskin, cotton, velvet, silk) and I use representations of nature in patterns for textiles and artworks. I like every view in my home to connect to nature either directly or indirectly. I have created a home to reflect my love of green landscapes and woodlands, which is where I feel at my most calm and centered when in nature. 

Favorite Element:  My favorite room is the sitting room, which opens to the dining room. It’s on a south to west position and has five windows across the whole space, which brings so much natural light. The rooms have high ceilings, thick stone walls, original floor boards, sash windows, and a sandstone fireplace. The sitting room is where I retreat to after a busy day and the calming greens make this a very restorative space. It’s painted in Cley by Fenwick & Tilbrook, which is the perfect backdrop for my vintage furniture pieces.

Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge is living in rented accommodation and not being able to change some elements of my home that I would like to if I owned it. The kitchen and bathroom for example are not to my taste but I am lucky I am allowed to decorate. I am always thrilled by just how transformative paint can be to a space; paint and decorating with plants has been a way to disguise the areas of my home I would like to change.

Proudest DIY: As someone who is terrified of heights, my proudest moment was painting the sitting room walls. I know this is quite a simple job for many but I really hate being up a ladder and our ceilings are really high. To have managed to complete this job (no decorators available during the early days of the pandemic when we moved in) was a huge achievement for me. And I managed to get good straight lines without the use of tape! The money I saved on having a tradesman was put to good use and paid for the chandelier in the dining room. 

Biggest Indulgence: My biggest indulgence has to be my handcrafted green velvet sofa by Living Room UK and it was totally worth it. Most of my furniture is vintage and junk shop finds but a sofa is a real investment. I know I will have it forever, it’s so beautifully made, the velvet is so luxurious and it’s the most comfortable piece of furniture I have ever owned.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? There is nothing really unique in the way we live in our home, rather the home itself is unique. One of the many period features is a large half landing on the staircase, which has a huge picture window. The east-facing window brings in beautiful soft morning light so I’ve made the space into an indoor garden, which my plants love.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? The latest addition (and current favorite) to my home is a nature-inspired botanical wall mural in my bedroom. The design is called Sovana by Les Dominotiers and it fills one wall with green trees.

Not only does it make a dramatic statement in the room but also connects the space to nature through its design and color. I wanted to create a nature-inspired haven to relax in. I sometimes go into this room and just sit and look at it; it makes me smile so much.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Before living in this house I have always lived in homes that were tight on space with little storage so one thing I have learned is that what I own must fit the storage I have. This means regular decluttering. When I have a pile of stuff I think I want to keep but don’t really have room for, I put it in a box, then if I haven’t used anything out of that box in 6-12 months I send it to the charity shop

What most people get wrong about using color in their home: I think many people are afraid of color and when they use it can be a bit half-hearted. Especially wall colors. It’s only paint; if you don’t like it is easy to rectify but I believe if you try being bolder you will surprise yourself. 

What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? For me the biggest secret to color is finding the ones that you make you feel something, that you have a connection to. Don’t go for a trend because it’s the color of the year, find a space or place that makes you feel happy and calm (for me it’s out in woodlands) and take your inspiration for a color palette for your home from that place. This is how I develop design concepts for my clients.

What’s your favorite wall paint color of all time: That’s easy, it would have to be “Cley” by British paint company Fenwick & Tilbrook. It’s a wonderful mid-tone green and I think its tone works perfectly with vintage furniture. Fenwick & Tilbrook paints have so much depth of color and are absolutely beautiful to work with. I love this color so much I have it in my sitting room, kitchen, study, and cloakroom! 

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My advice would be don’t be a slave to fashions or trends and follow your heart. If you fill your home with things that you love and connect to, they don’t date or fall out of fashion. I design my spaces with colors, textures, and pieces which make me smile every time I look at them. I have a passion for vintage pieces and for me these make my home unique; I love the sense of history they bring as well as being a sustainable way to furnish my home.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

This London Home Boasts Charming Period Details and Extraordinarily Bold Colors

This London Home Boasts Charming Period Details and Extraordinarily Bold Colors

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Name: Ola Zwolenik, my husband Michal, and our dog, Żółty (means yellow in Polish)
Location: South East London, England
Size: 1012 square feet
Type of Home: Edwardian Terraced House
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

We always knew we wanted to find a period property with a lot of character, but also a potential to make it our own. Once we narrowed the area down to a small part of South East London, we found our home within a few months. It’s a rather quiet neighborhood, mostly with young families, but still a walking distance to the town center, with all the shops, restaurants, and transport links to central London.

We didn’t fully appreciate the house or the neighborhood before we both started working from home over a year ago. You also start noticing that some things or solutions don’t really work for your family’s needs. It pushed us to start new projects that we would have probably left for a more distant future. We are converting our loft and adding a new bedroom with some office space as we speak. Exciting times!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Colorful eclectic with elements of mid-century modern, traditional British, and Art Deco

Inspiration: Anything! From seeing an old poster to traveling and experiencing different styles and cultures. There are just too many things I love. Too many beautiful patterns, colors, and styles to ever consider being a minimalist.

Favorite Element: I love the period character of the property. We just recently installed Victorian mosaic tiles and I’m completely obsessed. I was able to customize the design and add some color, so it’s period appropriate, but also represents my playful style.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was probably our kitchen. The previous owners remodeled it in 2012, but we really didn’t like the white, high-gloss cabinets and the most hideous glittery backsplash. It wasn’t reasonable for us to renovate it completely, after just five years, so we decided to paint the cabinets and the walls to add some character and make it ours. We still plan some more drastic changes, but not for another year, at least.

Proudest DIY: It would have to be our powder room. It was done on such a tight budget, but I’m very happy with the result. We added some paneling and a very bold Art Deco-inspired wallpaper, but it’s the vanity makeover I’m the most proud of. It was a white, high-gloss cabinet that I was able to transform with some half dowels and dark paint. It even went viral on TikTok and Instagram, which I didn’t expect at all.

Biggest Indulgence: I do love thrifting and finding a good bargain, but with some designer items you just can’t stop yourself. Vitra bikini chairs for the dining room was one of the biggest expenses. Also the orange Nesso lamp from Artemide.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? It’s just a colorful madness. I love experimenting with color blocking and don’t really believe in many boundaries design-wise. Every room serves a different purpose and there is no reason to limit yourself to one style or color palette.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I have a huge collection of original vintage Polish posters and I’m always on a lookout for more. Most of them are from the early ’70s and their style is very unique. Not many people know about the Polish School of Posters and its amazing legacy, which I think is rather sad. Krajewski, Ihnatowicz, and Flisak are just some of my favorite artists and they make my walls stand out, probably more than any wall color could.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Try to use every little nook. Especially with period homes, you have so many alcoves and weirdly shaped rooms. It’s what makes them special, but also can limit your options. Alcove shelves are a must. I also built a small alcove desk in our guest bedroom. Painted it in this really bold blue, which is also a statement.

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Stop decorating for future owners or tenants. There are many ways to show your personality without decreasing the home value. Wall color is such an easy fix. Just be brave and do what makes you happy.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

In This Blogger’s Lively Pastel London Victorian, Gallery Walls Work Double Time

In This Blogger’s Lively Pastel London Victorian, Gallery Walls Work Double Time

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Name: Geraldine, Trevor, Jojo, and Michael
Location: North London, UK
Size: 2700 square feet
Type of Home: Victorian terrace house
Years Lived In: 15 years, owned

If you’ve been on Instagram for awhile, you’ve probably heard of Little Big Bell. The face behind those pastel-colored squares? That’s Dr. Geraldine Tan, a medical doctor by day and an interior and lifestyle blogger by night. Geraldine originally started blogging 10 years ago as a creative outlet to balance her stressful job working in the accident and emergency department, and it’s become so successful over the years that she’s worked with different brands creating content for them while making a beautiful home for her family.

“My home is like my decor studio. I love to style and change things around regularly to photograph them for social media,” Geraldine explains. She regularly changes artwork on the wall, or switches sofas around to make it interesting for her family and her followers. Geraldine has such a big collection of art prints and frames, she’s created her own great art hack: She uses a hallway gallery wall as art storage AND decoration. “I’m running out of space to store them, so I store them on my hallway as gallery walls. I interchange the art prints in my rooms by selecting from my hallway gallery.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Transitional style with a mix of modern and period. Embracing colors.

Inspiration: Hockney and Damien Hirst

Favorite Element: My new Howdens kitchen and son’s pastel bedroom featuring color-matched furniture from Aspace.

Biggest Challenge: Trying to get light into the basement family room. It’s still rather dark despite the overhead floor window and skylight from the kitchen’s lateral extension.

Proudest DIY: A gallery wall along my stairway to store and rotate my artwork.

Biggest Indulgence: The kitchen lateral extension.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? My home is like my decor studio. I love to style and change things around regularly to photograph them for social media. 

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Pappelina rugs because they are so hardwearing, but soft to walk on. Their color pigments are amazing. My rugs from 10 years ago still look new. Bold and colorful wallpaper from Lust Home. And pastel furniture from Aspace in my son’s bedroom.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I have lots of art prints and frames. I’m running out of space to store them, so I store them on my hallway as gallery walls. I interchange the art prints in my rooms by selecting from my hallway gallery.

What most people get wrong about using color in their home: I feel people could go wrong by avoiding certain colors because of the fear of clash. I feel there’s no such thing as color clash. It’s about the quantities of those colors that you use together. It’s best to use them as small pops of accent colors, and harmonizing them together by making sure they are cohesively present in your line of vision as you scan the room set.

What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? Don’t be afraid of using colors. Every time you style with color, make sure you step back to see the room as a whole, and fine tune the colors by moving items around until it feels right. Repeat the standing back and viewing regularly.

What’s your favorite wall paint color of all time: I have so many favorites, but “Chinoiserie,” a calming blue by Graham and Brown, in my dining room at the moment makes me happy.

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? If all goes wrong, just add some flowers. The beauty of nature trumps all.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Viv Yapp

Photographer

Designer/maker based in Bristol.
I make handcrafted homeware with Jesmonite, an eco-resin.
www.vivyapp.com

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B&A: A Run-Down UK Rental Was Delightfully Transformed With Color

B&A: A Run-Down UK Rental Was Delightfully Transformed With Color

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Name: Emma Jane Palin, Joshua John Parker, and George (Chihuahua cross Miniature Dachsund)
Location: Margate, a seaside town in the United Kingdom
Size: No idea, but a four-bedroom home (fairly large by UK standards)
Type of Home: We call it the floating house, but it’s actually a coach house; it’s basically a three-story house that starts on the first floor rather than the ground floor.
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

Interior stylist, art consultant, and blogger Emma Jane Palin and her partner, Joshua John Parker, completely transformed this rented four-bedroom coach house in Margate, UK. “I found it by putting a call out in a local Facebook group for creatives; as I work in interiors, I was specifically after something that was in need of a little love, or the landlord was totally happy with me putting my own spin on. I’m a big advocate for renters being able to make a home their own,” explains Emma.

“When we first went to visit the house, there was carpet over lino, over wooden floors. There was no bathroom and the loft bedroom had no flooring at all! Now that I look back, I wonder whether taking it came out of a place of desperation, because it was a huge project for a renter to take on! We came to an agreement with the landlord for a slightly lower rent to justify the improvements we would make.”

“Since then we’ve ripped out floors, sanded back floorboards, laid vinyl tiles, painted walls, removed textured wallpaper and much more! We’ve really made it our own over the last 18 months and I feel like we’ve now got a good grasp of what we would and wouldn’t do again. Some things, like sanding floors, are just worth paying for.”

Emma and Joshua will be using all the skills and lessons learned from transforming this space on their new endeavor: a recently purchased house, which Emma will no doubt be putting her own interior design spin on. She’s also finishing up a fun project — a caravan rental called Club Jupiter — with two other designers, Whinnie Williams and Anna Hart.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I’d say it’s a mix of bohemian and mid-century design with lots of references to popular culture — a combination of our fashion, music and art influences.

Inspiration: The rock and roll scene of the ’60s and ’70s.

Favorite Element: Our vintage ’70s orange sofa. I found it on eBay for £300 and I am so obsessed with it. It’s low and super comfy, plus there’s a matching side table with mirrored top — perfect for styling magazines and small mementos.

Biggest Challenge: There are a lot of strange layouts going on in the house, which does make it difficult. If we owned it, I’d make some major changes. One of the things that frustrates me the most is the tiny galley kitchen. It’s also how we enter the house, meaning it’s almost like having a kitchen in your entryway. We’ve had to work hard to make it feel like less of a cloakroom and more of a kitchen. I’m not sure we’ve managed to completely overcome that, but as I don’t really love cooking, it doesn’t matter to me so much.

Proudest DIY: This is a tough one. It’s either the stripes and scallops I painted in the guest bedroom, or the IKEA IVAR cabinet hack. I feel like I was ahead of these trends coming in so it’s brought a nice sense of satisfaction. I think that DIY hacks are perfect for tapping into interior trends as you can always change them up later on.  I might even change up the cabinet with a fresh lick of paint in the near future to give it a bolder look.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Samsung Frame TV. I am incredibly fussy about TVs and I refused to have one until I could buy the Samsung Serif. This was a big investment at the time, but when the frame came out, I knew I had to have it. We saved for a long time to get one and I’m so glad we did. I absolutely love it.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? As it’s just the two of us, we pretty much act as if we have some kind of mansion. We use two of the bedrooms as an office and a dressing room. The main bedroom also houses Josh’s studio setup as it’s in the loft and has good acoustics! To be honest, I think all of our home is really unique in terms of entrance, layout, and how we’ve decorated it! That’s why we love it.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? We’re both huge music fans and have a massive music collection so sound is super vital to us. We have a Sonos x Pro-ject vinyl player, various Sonos speakers, and I love Marshall speakers, too. Our record storage is Tylko, which is another one of my favourite pieces of furniture.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I’m all about multi-functional furniture. I love a coffee table that serves as a desk (ours is from West Elm) or a console that’s a design feature as well as storage — again Tylko is brilliant. Other than that, I recommend making use of the backs of doors and cabinets as much as possible; it’s all about considering those unused spaces.

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Just do you! It’s SO easy to be influenced by others, but ultimately your home is yours. I’ve been told so many times that I shouldn’t be putting money into a rental, or had comments saying they don’t like what I’ve done in places. These things never bother me because it’s where I live, not them. As well as that, use eBay and Facebook Marketplace to find one-off pieces of furniture and decor. You need to be patient, but sometimes that statement piece can make your entire room.

Thank you Emma and Joshua!!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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