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We didn’t have to travel very far for the second home in our new series. In fact, this beautiful home lies in the heart of Norwich – just a stone’s throw from the Cotswold Co head office. A professional prop stylist and photographer by day, Tamsyn has brought this once shabby and cluttered Victorian terrace back to life with a beautiful barrage of pastel paints, bundles of dried blooms and an eclectic mix of old vintage finds. Walking through the front door and into the hallway, you are warmly welcomed by streams of natural light coming from the bay-fronted living room before noticing the beautiful pastel-painted staircase ahead. From one room to the next your eyes quickly adjust to all there is to see, from pretty prints adorning the walls to colourful ceramics carefully arranged in beautifully old dressers. Tamsyn – who shares her home with her two children – admits it is a ‘work-in-progress’. A somewhat modest admission given the mountain of work she has already achieved with the help of friends and family; it looks perfectly put together – a true home away from home – with large mirrors, wonderfully rustic paint-work, trinkets collected and displayed from years of scouring markets and fairs, colour-coded hard-backs and plenty of vintage soft furnishings. It is a warm, lived-in home. One created for family and filled with nostalgia that perfectly optimises our belief that home is where the stories start.
Tell us about your beautiful Victorian home – what was it like before you moved in? What really sold the property to you?
I originally wanted to stay in the area I was moving from, on the other side of Norwich, but when this house popped up online, I thought it looked quite interesting. On my first viewing, I could barely see the size of the rooms, as there was so much clutter everywhere! Not only that, but it was in need of a good clean, and the decor was pretty shabby. The kitchen and bathroom especially were both in need of a complete refit. However, I did notice that there were lots of beautiful original features, and large windows, with lots of light. By the time I left, I knew it had brilliant potential and the thought of someone else buying it and making it beautiful terrified me! So I made an offer a couple of days afterwards.
What was first on the renovation list when you moved in? What were some of the hardest changes that you had to make? Were you met with any nasty surprises?
In my first week, some dear friends and my parents helped me. We pulled out all the smelly old carpets and painted the house white from top to bottom. I then had all the floors sanded. First on the list was a new bathroom. I made do with the kitchen until I could afford to have a builder come and replace an external kitchen door with a window, and replace the concrete floor with wooden floorboards. That was all a bit stressful, as on taking up the concrete floor, it was apparent that there had been a leak under there, and under the floorboards in the dining room had dry rot. So I had to replace the whole lot with new joists and floorboards! Once it was done, it was such a relief, and then I had a beautiful new blank canvas in the kitchen, which my Dad and I fitted with reclaimed materials and auction find cabinets.
You’ve transformed your home through lots of DIY projects and wonderful second-hand finds, did anything turn out better than you hoped? What’s become your favourite corner?
To be honest, I knew it had the potential to be a beautiful home, but I never imagined that it would be as lovely as it is. It really is such a gorgeous house to live in, the light, the location, the garden…I really do love it all, although perhaps my favourite corner is the bay window in my bedroom, which has stunning views across Norwich. It’s a beautiful place to sit in the summer with a glass of wine as the sun goes down, with the windows open
wide – it’s like having a balcony!
As a professional stylist, you regularly speak about the joy of visiting car boot sales and going thrifting, do you have any advice for those looking to start? What do you always keep an eye out for? What have been some of your favourite thrifted finds over the years?
I’ve always loved hunting for vintage treasures, and most of the contents of my home are from car boot fairs and auctions. My advice would be to start going regularly to car boot fairs and markets, and to go early, and always rummage in all the boxes! Some of my favourite car boot fair finds over the years include the beautiful deco mirror in my bedroom, all the prints in my floral gallery in the dining room, and my pretty vintage daybed.
Upcycling second-hand furniture has gained a lot of popularity in recent years – do you have any advice for what furniture to buy, where to buy it, or the best colours to use for giving it a new lease of life?
Look carefully at the shape of an item, before you even decide on the colour or finish. Does it have pretty carved detail on it that you could make a feature? Or is it very streamlined, mid century style? A few years ago it was all about painting pieces in neutral colours, but I think now, anything goes! Have fun with colour, Pinterest is a brilliant place to get ideas and inspiration for painted furniture. Most of the furniture in this house is from auctions, which are great places to find furniture, but I’ve also found some fab pieces in larger charity shops.
You describe your home as a work-in-progress, what’s next on the to-do list?
Ahh my to do list is huge! Next on the list is a copper pipe curtain rail going up in my bedroom, and I have linen sheets to hang on clip rings. Then I’m hoping to invest in shutters, full length in the living room, and cafe style shutters in the bedroom. Then it’s the landing – I have three rolls of the prettiest floral vintage wallpaper, which I will hang there. I also have some white floating shelves on order, which are going in the living room to display my huge collection of vintage cameras on. I’m really excited about that one!
Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest now offer a wealth of accessible inspiration – where do you look for interiors inspiration?
Although you champion a home filled with beautiful vintage finds, are there any stores or boutiques that you look to for furniture or homely touches? Or any stores that inspire you to find a second-hand version?
Definitely, I really love Anthroplogie, I love the boho vibe of their homewares, and I adore all the colour. I also think that places like TKMaxx and Homesense have some brilliant pieces, and they’re constantly updating their stock.
What are the three things that really make a house a home for you?
Colour, being surrounded by the things that make you happy and inspire you, and for me the kitchen/dining area is the heart of the home – where you can sit around a table with good food, and good company!
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone looking, or about to embark, on a house renovation project?
I think that unless you have pots of cash to get everything done straight away, accepting that it will take time and energy is a good start. Rather than procrastinating over colours and wallpapers, just make a blank canvas to start with – it’s amazing the difference clean white walls and scrubbed floorboards can make.
A very big thank you to Tamsyn for inviting us so warmly into her beautiful home – it’s fair to say we came away bursting with inspiration!