A charming period property that dates back to the 1930s, Elle @elle_the_home_bird has a wonderful eye for colour – and a thoughtful way of using it that feels sympathetic to the age of her family home.
Bought two years ago, their four-bed semi-detached home boasts beautiful bay windows and a large, welcoming entranceway that still features the original panelling. “It was in a really dire state when we bought it and had been neglected for many years but it had good bones and lots of potential,” Elle tells us. “We knew with a bit of time and love, it could be a beautiful family home.” With three young boys, Elle and her husband spent the first five months renovating it – “from top to bottom!” – while they stayed with her mother.
Two years on, Elle reveals her favourite room is either the kitchen, “it’s such a light-filled, happy space full of family life and noise. I spend most of my time stood at the kitchen island preparing food and endless snacks for my three hungry boys. I have a lovely view from the kitchen sink out to the garden in one direction and in the other, my old farmhouse dining table with my Cotswold Company Chantilly bookcase behind it full of all my favourite books. It never ceases to make me smile.” Or, come the evening, it’s the living room – “I’ve used lamps to create cosy corners and cushions and throws to add warmth and texture to the room. It’s so cosy and relaxing to be in.”
Recently painting the living room in Pigeon by Farrow and Ball, a striking grey-green shade, Elle tells us she’s loved experimenting with colour over the last few years. “When I was planning the colour scheme of the house, I wanted to make sure the colours flowed well together but were also sympathetic to the period of the house. Because the house is older, darker colours work well in the living areas of the property – which is why we went for a heritage look with the grey-green walls and darker furniture in the living room.”
If you’re tempted to inject more colour, it’s important to consider your home’s position too. With their living room facing north, Elle admits it can feel quite dark throughout the day, so embracing this with a warm, rich tone makes it feel cosier in the evenings. For their south-facing kitchen, a lighter colour palette makes the space feel bright and inviting.
“My advice to anyone wanting to experiment with colour is just to go for it! But be mindful of how your home flows and which colours and tones complement each other.”
A FAMILY TRADITION
When it came to decorating, Elle says she carefully considered the furniture and finishing touches too. “If we had opted for a really modern look I think it would have looked out of place against the period features. The décor isn’t strictly of the 1930s period but there are small nods to the art deco movement for instance, such as some of the lighting choices throughout the house.”
Elle confesses she’s always been drawn to antiques and curios. Stemming she suspects from visits to her Grandmother’s house which was a true treasure trove. “She had the most amazing eye for interiors and she loved collecting antiques; I think that’s definitely where my love of old furniture comes from! Their house was always full of family heirlooms and huge oil paintings – it was the most fascinating place to visit as a child.”
One of Elle’s favourite pieces in her home belonged to her Grandmother – “I have several pieces which have been handed down through the generations but my favourite piece is a little vintage desk in the living room as it was my grandmother’s. I love furniture that has a story to tell!”
Like many of us, Elle reveals her interiors style has evolved over time. And while she finds herself drawn to modern country homes for their neutral, rustic aesthetic, she tells us her style feels more modern vintage – “with a splash of colour!”
OLD MEETS NEW
Mixing old and new furniture is a brilliant way of retaining, or injecting, a little character into your home. It’s a lovely way to utilise and display sentimental family heirlooms you don’t want to part with either. “I think you can easily mix old with new but my only advice would be to choose pieces that ‘gel’ well together, that are of a similar design and tie your scheme together – such as an accent colour.”
“Most of my larger pieces of furniture are from The Cotswold Company as they marry so well with my vintage pieces.”
When it comes to sourcing those one-off pieces for her home, Elle recommends Musée Home for beautiful vintage art prints, and Reclectic Vintage Interiors and Vintage Curator Interiors for more original artwork and antiques.
Elle reveals she loves a spot of upcycling too, recently transforming an old school cupboard into a beautiful and storage-rich kitchen dresser. “My husband, who can be quite handy when he wants to be, added cornicing to the top, tongue and groove panelling to the back and new handles. Once painted, it looked completely different and fits into our home so well! I love upcycling old pieces and giving them a new lease of life – you can save so much money too!”
A BALANCING ACT
A home to three young boys, Elle admits each space needs to be practical and homely – “but there’s no reason why it can’t be interesting and beautiful at the same time!” With plans to tackle the spare room later this year to turn it into a more “grown-up space” for her soon-to-be 10-year old, Elle confesses, “it’s tricky to balance his wants and needs with my own ideas!”
“When people come into our home, I want them to see our personalities reflected in the interior; to see a bit of who we are in each of the rooms. I think that’s why I love having artwork on the walls, or pieces I’ve picked up at flea markets on display.
“The boys’ spaces – their bedrooms and the playroom – definitely have a more playful, modern feel to them. There is a still a nod to nostalgia in there though – I couldn’t resist some vintage factory metal chairs for their desk area and an old retro Disney poster for above the fireplace in their bedroom.”
ALL IN THE DETAIL
Although, Elle tells us, she’s not much of a seasonal decorator, she is a big advocate of lighting a candle or two, “even in summer!” and having fresh flowers in the house. “I love incorporating some foliage and blossom into my floral displays during spring and I do tend to layer rooms up more in winter using additional throws on beds and sofas to bring in a feeling of warmth and cosiness.”
Inspired by the nostalgic antiques and large oil paintings she remembers in her Grandmother’s house, Elle reveals it is these touches that really make a home for her. “Vintage oil paintings, botanicals, portraits, landscapes – I love them all. And kitchenware boldly on display like copper pots, old pottery jars and chopping boards all add texture and interest.”
If you’re tempted to peek inside more beautiful homes, you’ll find our Home Tour Series here.