Before we bought this place, I was living with my mum just outside of Bristol,’ explains Bryony Critchley, ‘but, as I was spending most of my time at my partner Mark’s house in North Bristol, we decided it made sense to get a place together.’

Advertisement

The couple were looking to move closer to the city centre, but wanted something with a bit of outdoor space, too. Luckily, they found a property that provided everything they wanted – all it needed was a décor spruce- up.

The family also has a separate living room to retreat to. In keeping with the rest of her home, Heena has decorated it in a soft grey palette, introducing small pops of yellow for a splash of colour

‘When we came to view this place, the street looked really nice and the garden was a good size,’ recalls Bryony. ‘I loved the little quirks of the house. It had lots of character and period features, and it didn’t need any building work, which was a bonus, but we could see how the space could be made to reflect our own style.’

Bryony and Mark had some money left over from the house purchase to buy new furniture, so they invested in these sofas from Swoon. Now, Bryony explains, ‘at the end of each month, if we have anything left over, we put a bit aside to do things on the house. We tend to do jobs room by room, as and when we can afford it’
Bryony and Mark had some money left over from the house purchase to buy new furniture, so they invested in these sofas from Swoon. Now, Bryony explains, ‘at the end of each month, if we have anything left over, we put a bit aside to do things on the house. We tend to do jobs room by room, as and when we can afford it’

The couple moved in straightaway and started updating the house, room by room. They loved the floorboards on the ground floor, which had already been sanded, but wanted to give the whole house a paint job as there were strong colours everywhere.

Bryony and Mark added a focal point to the living room with a fire surround bought on Facebook Marketplace. ‘It wouldn’t fit in the car, so we walked it home on our shoulders,’ says Bryony. ‘Unfortunately, we didn’t measure it properly and it was far too big for the wall, so we had to cut it in half, take a piece out, and put it back together again before I could paint it!’
Bryony and Mark added a focal point to the living room with a fire surround bought on Facebook Marketplace. ‘It wouldn’t fit in the car, so we walked it home on our shoulders,’ says Bryony. ‘Unfortunately, we didn’t measure it properly and it was far too big for the wall, so we had to cut it in half, take a piece out, and put it back together again before I could paint it!’

‘The living room was bright teal, and our bedroom was a mustard yellow – not awful but not what we wanted in our home, as we prefer a softer, more muted look,’ says Bryony.

Welcome to our home...

We are Bryony Critchley, 27, a Senior Product Designer at Waitrose, my partner, Mark Willis, 33, a UI Design Manager, and our cat, Binky.

Our home is A three-bedroom, Victorian terrace in Bristol. We moved here in October 2018, and I record our renovation journey on Instagram at @bryonycritchley.

My favourite room I love the living room, and even though it’s the first room we did, Mark and I still agree there’s nothing we would change about it. We both find it really cosy and welcoming, and still love our colour choices.

Bryony Critchley

The first thing the couple did was decorate the living room, choosing timeless colours with a view to future-proofing their home. ‘If, down the line, we want a new look, all we have to change are the accessories rather than redecorating the whole room,’ Bryony explains.

More like this
‘I love a gallery wall and designed all of the prints in here myself,’ Bryony says. ‘I work as a graphic designer and still love doing illustrations, so in lockdown I got an iPad and started printing out my doodles and drawings. I used the colours of each room to personalise the prints and hung them around the house. I received lots of compliments, so now I sell them on Etsy’
‘I love a gallery wall and designed all of the prints in here myself,’ Bryony says. ‘I work as a graphic designer and still love doing illustrations, so in lockdown I got an iPad and started printing out my doodles and drawings. I used the colours of each room to personalise the prints and hung them around the house. I received lots of compliments, so now I sell them on Etsy’

They chose Down Pipe and Pavilion Gray by Farrow & Ball to give the room a sophisticated look and did all the painting themselves. ‘We both enjoy it. We tend to earmark a weekend for it and get the work done in one go.’

This space is bright and sociable; perfect for entertaining. ‘We would have liked an open-plan kitchen with an island at the heart of it,’ says Bryony, ‘but with the cost of materials and building works rising, we decided to stick with the original layout’
This space is bright and sociable; perfect for entertaining. ‘We would have liked an open-plan kitchen with an island at the heart of it,’ says Bryony, ‘but with the cost of materials and building works rising, we decided to stick with the original layout’

When the couple first moved in, there was a wall where the open stairs are now, which made the room feel dark. ‘We were
sat having dinner one evening, discussing how to brighten the room, and Mark started knocking on the wall because he thought it might be a stud wall that could come down fairly easily,’ says Bryony.

Bryony and Mark made the dining table and bench themselves. ‘We liked the rustic look of scaffold board tables, but they were too expensive,’ explains Bryony. ‘So we sourced cheap boards from a reclamation centre, fixed them together, then attached the legs – they were the most expensive part, but it only cost about £150 to make both’
Bryony and Mark made the dining table and bench themselves. ‘We liked the rustic look of scaffold board tables, but they were too expensive,’ explains Bryony. ‘So we sourced cheap boards from a reclamation centre, fixed them together, then attached the legs – they were the most expensive part, but it only cost about £150 to make both’

‘I’d also seen some images of under-stairs cupboards with wood panelling, which not only looked really useful, but also seemed like a stylish way to store our shoes and coats. So, we got a carpenter to remove the wall, attach a bannister and build in the cupboards to my design.’

The previous owners used this as a utility room, but Bryony and Mark wanted to make more of it as it’s a really lovely, bright space. ‘We put the sofa in here, and I’m gradually adding accessories and making it a nicer space to spend time in,’ says Bryony
The previous owners used this as a utility room, but Bryony and Mark wanted to make more of it as it’s a really lovely, bright space. ‘We put the sofa in here, and I’m gradually adding accessories and making it a nicer space to spend time in,’ says Bryony

When it came to the bathroom, Bryony admits there wasn’t much they could do, as the room is so small. That didn’t mean she couldn’t give it a splash of colour, though. ‘It was all too beige for my liking,’ she says. ‘So, we gave it a budget update by painting the walls green. We also painted the tiles white using a specialist tile paint, which, since we did it two years ago, has lasted really well.’

A bit more about our home...

What I learned Do your research. We made a few mistakes by not measuring properly, or not using the correct product. Although these errors didn’t add massively to the costs, they took time to put right.

Our best idea was opening up the stairs. Because the dining room is in the middle, it gets little natural light, but now the space is much brighter, feels bigger and the added storage helps keep it uncluttered.

Next to do We need to give some thought to the summer room, now we’ve decided not to open up the space. It needs a refresh, as I love to sit there with a glass of wine in summer. I think I want to paint it a slightly darker colour, but we’ll see.

Bryony Critchley

Then, during lockdown, the couple decided to give the kitchen an update. ‘We initially considered knocking through to the summer room to create a large, open-plan space, as I would have loved an island for when friends come over, but the costs and quotes kept spiralling.

The existing kitchen was well-designed in lots of ways. The breakfast bar, for instance, works really well for the couple – if it’s just the two of them, they sit here to eat and chat. Bryony also loves the worktop, as it’s a pretty good imitation of wood, which adds to the boho vibe
The existing kitchen was well-designed in lots of ways. The breakfast bar, for instance, works really well for the couple – if it’s just the two of them, they sit here to eat and chat. Bryony also loves the worktop, as it’s a pretty good imitation of wood, which adds to the boho vibe

Although it’s not a huge room, the kitchen is actually designed well, so we decided to paint the cabinets to give it a new look on a budget,’ says Bryony. ‘We painted the cream cabinets a soft green, but as soon as we’d finished, the paint started peeling off. We’d used the wrong primer, so had to sand it all back and start again, which was a pain. But it needed to be done and the makeover only took a couple of days – as we were in lockdown anyway, we had the time.’

Bryony wanted to refresh the kitchen, but loved the original blue tiles, so chose a paint colour that complements them. New cupboard handles and a few rustic accessories complete the transformation
Bryony wanted to refresh the kitchen on a budget, but loved the original blue tiles, so chose a paint colour that complements them. New cupboard handles and a few rustic accessories complete the transformation

The final update was the spare room, which was another lockdown project. ‘The room still had the pink walls, horrible old carpet and red velvet curtains from when we first moved in, so we decided to give the whole room a complete overhaul.

Bryony has created a lovely dressing table area for herself in the spare alcove, choosing an inlay table and elegant velvet and gold chair to add to the eclectic look in this room
Bryony has created a lovely dressing area for herself in the spare alcove, choosing an inlay table and elegant velvet and gold chair to add to the eclectic look in this room

‘We ripped the carpet up and then sanded the floorboards, which turned out to be a nightmare,’ explains Bryony. ‘It was a really hard job, especially as we only had a little electric hand sander and dust literally got everywhere, but the final effect was worth it.’

The original bedroom had bright mustard-coloured walls and the fireplace was black, which didn’t fit with Bryony and Mark’s relaxed, sophisticated vibe. Bryony covered up the yellow with Home and Hearth by Valspar, then painted the fireplace in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe, left over from the living room, to soften the scheme
The original bedroom had bright mustard-coloured walls and the fireplace was black, which didn’t fit with Bryony and Mark’s relaxed, sophisticated vibe. Bryony covered up the yellow with Home and Hearth by Valspar, then painted the fireplace in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe, left over from the living room, to soften the scheme

Then, the couple added the beautiful William Morris wallpaper that Bryony had spotted while browsing online. ‘It’s a bold pattern and I worried it might overwhelm the room. It was also really expensive, so we decided to just put it along one wall,’ she explains. ‘Although I still want to give the summer room a refresh, and maybe sand the bedroom floorboards, I’m really proud and happy with how we’ve transformed this house, especially as we’ve done most of the work ourselves.’

Advertisement

Styling Lisa Moses. Photos Katie Jane Watson.

Authors

Lisa Moses is an interiors shoot producer, stylist and writer

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement