Christmas makeover: ‘I’m finally brave enough to have fun with colour’
Nikki rediscovered her artistic side during the process of transforming her rundown seaside terrace into a bright and beautiful family home
Newlyweds Nikki and Simon made the decision to up sticks from their Hertfordshire home 10 years ago to move to the seaside in Worthing and they’ve never looked back. ‘We fell in love with Sussex after visiting relations here over the years. We decided we wanted to move before starting a family, and I’d always dreamed of living by the seaside,’ Nikki says.
The couple rented a cottage for the first year while they looked for something to buy. ‘It was quite a challenge, not knowing the area very well, plus we had a tight budget,’ she adds.
Welcome to our home...We are Nikki Margrie, a stay-at-home mum, my husband, Simon, and our children, Toby and Max, along with our black Labrador, Rupert, and giant African land snail, Bertie.
Our home is A four-bedroom Victorian terrace in Worthing, East Sussex.
My favourite room Is the loft. It’s a calm, cosy space. I love sitting up there with a book when I get time to myself!
They eventually found an affordable property, just a stone’s throw from the beach. ‘Although structurally sound, the house was lacking in love. The décor was very dated and dirty, and the house seemed to have no soul. But we loved the location near to the seafront, and so saved every penny to buy the house – including the money we had saved for our honeymoon,’ she says.
Once they moved in, the couple had barely anything left in the budget to decorate. ‘We managed to scrape together enough to paint all the interior walls white and borrow a sander to strip the beautiful floorboards that had been buried underneath the old carpets.
A bit more about my home...For inspiration I look at magazines, Instagram and Pinterest, but the murals were my own creations.
Next to do Is to create an outside Hawaiian tikki bar, but that will have to wait for warmer days.
My advice Is to be patient. I rushed a lot in the beginning, and I now have to go over rooms that I did in the early stages.
We also knocked out the gas fireplace in the living room on week one, and exposed a wonderful original fireplace. This was made safe by a professional and is now a lovely open fire,’ Nikki says.
After saving for a year and with son number one on the way, it was time for Nikki and Simon to renovate the family bathroom. ‘The old bathroom was very dated and we desperately wanted to decorate before Toby was born. Our budget was tight, so we had to shop around for the best prices, and eventually found a suite at Victorian Plumbing,’ Nikki says.
Four years on and pregnant with their second son, Nikki and Simon decided they wanted more space for their growing family, so embarked on a loft conversion – and, although it proved to be a tricky undertaking, especially with a baby on the way, they were undeterred. ‘This was the most challenging yet rewarding project,’ explains Nikki.
‘The dust was beyond comprehension, and we lived for weeks with just tarpaulin for a roof. At one point, we had a river of rainwater running down the stairs during a particularly bad storm. I was also due to give birth at the time! It was absolutely worth it though, and now we have a spacious main bedroom with en suite.’
The next major project the couple planned was the kitchen renovation, and they had to be clever with the layout to fit in enough storage for the family without it becoming cramped and chaotic. ‘We originally had a door at the side, but now with two young children constantly wanting to play in the garden it was quite impractical. We also wanted more space and storage, but really couldn’t afford an extension, and so we spent a long time working out how to reconfigure the room,’ Nikki explains.
They eventually decided to knock out a cupboard under the stairs in the hallway to widen the kitchen, and install new units from Howdens. ‘We also put in some patio doors at the end of the kitchen, and were able to create a small seating area there so I can keep an eye on the kids,’ she adds.
Nikki’s first dabble into the world of colour was when she bought the teal velvet sofa from Laura Ashley. ‘I loved the shade, and started to think about complementing colours for the walls. I know there is an old expression that “blue and green should never be seen”, but I decided to completely ignore that and decorated one wall at first in the sitting room, then another, and another. Until I had finally decided to cover all the downstairs space in blue!’ says Nikki.
It’s a palette that she carries through into her Christmas decorations, too. ‘I love blue and teal colours, and always dress my Christmas tree to co-ordinate,’ she says. Now, thanks to her new-found creativity, Nikki and Simon’s home is full of colour and personality, so Nikki likes to keep her seasonal look simple with some festive greenery dotted around the house.
‘The inspiration for the colour pops in the kitchen and the rest of the house came mostly from the frustrated artist in me! I studied art at A Level and had a fascination with surrealist and abstract art in particular,’ she explains. ‘I never envisaged painting murals on my walls, but having recently joined Instagram, I was suddenly down a rabbit hole in a wonderful world of colour and creativity. It gave me the confidence to think, “Let’s just have a bit of fun!” I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since the boys were born, but once I did, there was no stopping me!’
Feature Suzie Attaway. Photos Olly Gordon.