The Home Tour Series #3 Rebecca Sterling

Recognised as a top influencer by Sunday Times Home Magazine, it’s fair to say Rebecca of Roses & Rolltops has set quite a precedent when it comes to home interiors, regularly sharing snaps of her home on Instagram (rvk_loves). With walls of carefully-arranged vintage bevelled mirrors, hoards of second-hand treasures, bunches of fresh flowers (many from the couple’s own garden and allotment), not to mention the many Pinterest-worthy corners, Rebecca and husband, Ben – with many months of intensive DIY – have transformed their characterful listed house into a beautiful, contemporary and light-filled home.

Set back from the road in the village where they both grew up, each room has been carefully planned, curated and finished to an exceptionally high standard. It isn’t just the thoughtful design of each room which puts this house on such a pedestal though, but the finishing touches. The brass cup handles in the kitchen, dried hydrangea stems in the utility room, the army of nostalgic photographs lining the hallway and mantlepieces. The carefully curated gallery walls, the light fittings and old-fashioned taps, the second-hand furniture finds and vintage kitchenalia displayed on shelves. It is all of these touches, and so many more, which really make this house such a timeless and utterly beautiful home – one that even Instagram cannot do justice to.

Tell us a little about your home – what really sold the house to you? What was the house like when you first moved in?

We weren’t planning to move house for a while having just finished renovating our past house, a Victorian terrace. But then this house came on the market and we had to go and have a look. It’s always been one of our favourites in our village and has so much history and character. It’s a proper family home on one of the best roads in the village that we wanted to stay in – all our friends and family are here. We knew if we didn’t go for it now then it wouldn’t come up for sale for likely another 40 years. It was definitely a big leap and needed a complete overhaul. There was a sweet old couple who had been here for four decades and the style reflected that, think green carpets and patterned floral wallpaper!

Did you and Ben know you wanted a ‘project’ house? What was first on the renovation list? What were some of the hardest changes that you made?

My husband is a property developer so nothing phases him and he’s always up for a new project. But after just spending a couple of years renovating our last house I was less enthusiastic at the thought of all the chaos and decision-making again. But I quickly came around and got excited at a whole new project knowing that we then wouldn’t need to move again for a long, long time. We’d never want to buy anywhere that was already finished, we love putting our own stamp on things too much and adding value ourselves.

The first job was ripping out the carpets and stripping wallpaper for a couple of weeks {there were layers upon layers of it!} before sanding floors and redecorating the master bedroom and lounge to create a couple of sanctuaries before the real hard work started. We moved in with my parents for 5 months during the first stage. The biggest change was adding an extension onto the back of the house to open the kitchen up, it took 10 months of battling the planning department to get permission and then 6 months of building work through a particularly cold winter!

Thanks to Instagram, your kitchen has quickly become the room that people associate with your home. How did you come up with the idea for the extension? Did it take a lot of planning to get it right? What are some of your favourite corners of this room now that it’s finished?

Haha, that ‘famous’ #instakitchen. When we first laid eyes on the house we knew that opening the back of the house up to create a big open plan kitchen with lots of glass to look out on and to incorporate the garden was really important to us. We knew from doing similar on a smaller scale in our last house that this is how we wanted to live in a kitchen with a sofa area and big table all in one, it’s sociable and we spend most of our time in here.

White Marble Shelf

My husband luckily is very good at planning it all out and visualising so I just made sure I was happy with it. I think my favourite view is looking back in from the garden across with the island and mirror wall, it still takes me a second to realise that this is ours and we live here!

Although you see it as an ongoing project, you’ve both transformed the house into a beautiful home and have undertaken a lot of the work yourself – what have been some of your DIY masterpieces? What are you most proud of?

Thank you. I‘m so grateful for my husband’s DIY skills, I wouldn’t know where to begin with hanging a picture straight or putting up a shelf! But I think the utility room is my favourite DIY creation, it cost next to nothing yet is now one of my favourite rooms and people always ask which kitchen company made it.

I particularly like the peg shelves above the sink, the panelling in our new bedroom and also our kitchen table made from scaffold board planks.

You’ve spoken about finding furniture on sites like eBay and scouring antique fairs – what are the benefits of buying second-hand furniture for you? 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 finds over the years?

You just can’t buy furniture anymore like it used to be made so buying second hand often means better quality pieces and that real uniqueness and character that you don’t get with mass produced Ikea flat packs. Our best finds have been chest of drawers from eBay that we’ve turned into sink units in our bathrooms and the vintage French shutters that sit in our lounge from an antiques market. Along with vintage mirrors that I’m always keeping an eye out for. Always ask for the ‘best price’ and check distances, although we have ended up driving half way across the country for lots of finds before!

You’ve just finished decorating your new master bedroom with stairs leading up to an en-suite in the loft – what’s your favourite aspect of this new room? What’s next on the to-do list?

The beautiful windows have always been the real focal point of the new bedroom with windows on two aspects which flood the room with light. The staircase up to the en-suite then makes it feel almost like a cool hotel room or our own ‘wing’ which I love. Next on the list is finishing the third bedroom off {which needs a huge clear out first, I’m waiting for a rainy day!} and we’d love to get permission to add another bedroom above the kitchen someday.

You’ve created a wonderful colour palette throughout your home using both dark and more neutral Farrow & Ball paints – which colours do you find yourself drawn to when you redecorate? What are some of your favourite F&B paints?

I’m a neutral fan through and through so off whites like Wimborne White, Strong White and the slightly cooler Blackened are always favourites. But I’m also obsessed with darks like Down Pipe and Railings to add some drama and offset the neutrals.

Abington Pine Pedestal Desk | Hanna Ochre Lambswool Throw

Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest now offer a wealth of accessible inspiration – where do you look for interiors inspiration? Tell us about some of your favourite Instagram accounts.

Pinterest is amazing and it really helps me to share what I’ve got in my head with my husband. I’m not very good at describing my ideas to him so it’s easier to pin lots of photos and show him what I’m thinking but I also still love to cut things out of magazines, old-school Pinterest! I also adore hotels and travel for lots of inspiration that we’ve then come home and implemented. I don’t tend to use Instagram for interiors inspiration much, I just looked through my saved photos on there and realised it’s nearly all travel or food photos that I’ve saved ha! But it’s such a fantastic inspiring creative community that brings like-minded people together.

Although you have created a home filled with beautiful vintage finds, are there any stores or independent boutiques that you look to for furniture or homely touches?

Cox & Cox is always a favourite as is Loaf, Lisa Valentine Home, Alresford Linen and Projekkity. We’ve also found some really fab small businesses for renovating like Bespoke Taps for my brass tap obsession and Ribble Radiators for restored old cast iron radiators.

What are the three things that really make a house a home for you?

Photos, house Plants and fresh flowers!

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone looking, or about to embark, on a house renovation project? Do you see yourselves staying put where you are, or would you look to move into another project house in the future?

Know that it all will be worth it in the end even when you’re surrounded by dust and building work. Also create a room that you can retreat to or if you can move out, do as it saves so much stress not living in amongst it. We’re definitely not planning to move for a long time now. It’s kind of good that my husband renovates houses for a living or I’m sure he’d get itchy feet for a new project of our own. Although I always dream about one day owning a cottage that we could do up to holiday in or rent out!

We’d like to say a big thank you to Rebecca and Ben for inviting us into their beautiful home.

 

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