Home makeover: ‘I’ll never stop updating my home with colour’

Inspired by her mother’s vintage china collection, Anna Stark has transformed her once-bland home with bold decorating ideas, lots of pattern and strong shades

A runner rug, green feature wall and a display of Anna’s trademark patterned plates help to draw the eye to the double doors and the view out onto the garden, for a feeling of light, depth and space

Looking at Anna and Tim Stark’s bright Oxfordshire home, it’s hard to believe it was painted top-to-bottom in beige when they moved in.

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‘As a kind gesture, the previous owners painted over their orange walls in magnolia for us. They didn’t realise that we actually loved their brave colour choices,’ says Anna.

‘The former owners walked past the house a week after we moved in and saw our decorator unloading tin after tin of paint. They were so surprised!’

Update an old IKEA sofa with a customised cover – Anna’s striped one is from Bemz. The curtain fabric was one of Anna’s favourite eBay finds: ‘The Citrus Garden is an iconic Josef Frank print from the 1940s that I’ve been obsessed with, so I was delighted to hunt it down at a bargain price!’ she says
Update an old IKEA sofa with a customised cover – Anna’s striped one is from Bemz. The curtain fabric was one of Anna’s favourite eBay finds: ‘The Citrus Garden is an iconic Josef Frank print from the 1940s that I’ve been obsessed with, so I was delighted to hunt it down at a bargain price!’ she says

After ten years of living with each other, this was the first home Anna and her husband Tim bought together, and Anna had big ideas for it. ‘In 2002, I moved into the previous house Tim owned and it was very white and minimal. Over time, I added more and more colour to his place. Now he is used to my style of decorating and is a huge fan of prints and patterns,’ she says.

Although her chest of drawers is practical storage for Anna’s paperwork and office bits and bobs, it’s anything but boring thanks to a lick of yellow paint and ceramic clock handles
Although her chest of drawers is practical storage for Anna’s paperwork and office bits and bobs, it’s anything but boring thanks to a lick of yellow paint and ceramic clock handles

When they got the keys to their new home and discovered it had been turned into a blank canvas, they knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long. ‘Within the first week I started painting and I haven’t stopped decorating since!’ says Anna.

Welcome to our home…

We are Anna Stark, 43, Head of Design, my husband, Tim, 51, who owns a DJ PR Agency, our son, Tony, aged five, and our dog, Benny.

Our home is A semi-detached, three-bedroom townhouse, built in 2002.

Anna Stark

‘It was the boring beige kitchen and white bathrooms that bothered me the most. It just wasn’t me.’

With its bare-brick wall, blue-and-white plates and mugs, sleek stainless-steel units and copper accessories, Anna has gone for a mix of rustic industrial and classic vintage styles in the kitchen
With its bare-brick wall, blue-and-white plates and mugs, sleek stainless-steel units and copper accessories, Anna has gone for a mix of rustic industrial and classic vintage styles in the kitchen

Tackling most of the DIY herself, Anna started adding the first of many punchy colours in her home by transforming the hallway first, painting the banisters black and the walls green.

Anna’s lemon planter is from Netherlands-based shop, Des Pots. ‘It weighs a ton!’ she says. ‘I have a few pieces by them. It’s hard to buy online because of the weight, so I mostly pick them up on my travels’
Anna’s lemon planter is from Netherlands-based shop, Des Pots. ‘It weighs a ton!’ she says. ‘I have a few pieces by them. It’s hard to buy online because of the weight, so I mostly pick them up on my travels’

‘It’s an unusual place to start, but as our staircase leads up three flights, it’s quite a dominant part of the house, so it was the easiest way to immediately inject colour into our home. Before I started it felt dark and depressing, but now it’s cheerful and bright with all the colour, pattern and art,’ she says.

So that the TV wouldn’t spoil the look of her floral wall behind it, Anna found a Samsung TV with an option for displaying an image of the mural in ambient mode, for a clever way to hide it in plain sight
So that the TV wouldn’t spoil the look of her floral wall behind it, Anna found a Samsung TV with an option for displaying an image of the mural in ambient mode, for a clever way to hide it in plain sight

Anna’s impressive collection of blue-and-white china takes centre stage in her home. When her mum, who lives in Poland, told Anna she was getting rid of her large collection of hand-painted ceramics, Anna had it all shipped over to England to display in her own home.

A bit more about our home…

Our biggest mistake was The grey walls in the living room. That wasn’t truly me and I felt like I was chasing trends at the time.

Next to do is Finishing off my home office in the garden.

Anna Stark

‘It was the beginning of my ever-expanding china collection and it influenced the colour palette for pretty much every room in the house. Blue and white is my most-loved palette; I love to mix it with vibrant greens, yellows and pinks for a fresh, modern look,’ she says.

A custom-printed mural of a floral Dutch painting brings an explosion of pattern and life to the living room. Anna painted the other walls to match the mural’s background colour so it blends in seamlessly
A custom-printed mural of a floral Dutch painting brings an explosion of pattern and life to the living room. Anna painted the other walls to match the mural’s background colour so it blends in seamlessly

Among her growing collection are vintage and modern Delft, as well as Chinese porcelain. ‘There are over 250 pieces on display in our home and it’s growing all the time. It’s a timeless look that I love.’ Her favourite finds are antique Delft ginger jars from eBay and Etsy and a menagerie of blue-and-white animals, regularly brought home from trips to the Netherlands.

Punchy colours, plush textiles and brushed metallics make the bay window in the living room feel super luxurious and full of personality
Punchy colours, plush textiles and brushed metallics make the bay window in the living room feel super luxurious and full of personality

Not long after moving in, Anna gave her plain kitchen a complete makeover. The wooden cupboards were ripped out and new stainless-steel units were installed. The long, thin space was made to feel bright, light and homely, and Anna ensured she made space to display her china.

Anna was inspired by the French artist Yves Klein when choosing the vibrant blue. ‘I find it very energising. It’s actually theatrical paint with a super matt finish, so feels very velvety and luxurious,’ she says
Anna was inspired by the French artist Yves Klein when choosing the vibrant blue. ‘I find it very energising. It’s actually theatrical paint with a super matt finish, so feels very velvety and luxurious,’ she says

‘We thought about waiting until we extended outwards, but ten years down the line we are still yet to undertake any building work,’ she says.

‘It seemed like a huge expense and a bit of a risk at the time to get a new kitchen when we might have to do it again soon, but this space makes me so happy. Just imagine, I could still be living with a kitchen I hated if I hadn’t taken a leap of faith! I have no regrets.’

Using a lampshade kit, Anna made the pink ikat shades for her cute monkey lamps herself. ‘They’re a great way to personalise a shop-bought lamp and they’re super cheap and easy, too,’ she says
Using a lampshade kit, Anna made the pink ikat shades for her cute monkey lamps herself. ‘They’re a great way to personalise a shop-bought lamp and they’re super cheap and easy, too,’ she says

While the kitchen transformation was underway, Anna turned her attention to her bathroom. She had red poppy-motif tiles shipped over from Poland to echo the patterns in her pottery.

To complement the design, she went for matching plain red tiles and grouting in the shower unit. ‘My tiler’s eyes were on stalks when I showed him the tiles! But I love how zingy this room is and its energising effect in the mornings,’ she says.

As in the rest of her home, Anna went bold in the bathroom, having hand-painted poppy tiles shipped over from Poland and pairing them with splashes of vivid cobalt to echo the main bedroom scheme
As in the rest of her home, Anna went bold in the bathroom, having hand-painted poppy tiles shipped over from Poland and pairing them with splashes of vivid cobalt to echo the main bedroom scheme

Anna puts her love for colour down to her childhood. ‘Growing up in communist Poland was a bleak experience. Surrounded by greys and browns everywhere, I craved colour. The only colours I remember fondly were the vibrant shades of Polish folk art, which shaped my early aesthetics. That’s why I’ve filled the walls in my home with vintage floral and still-life oil paintings, as they remind me of those colourful moments as a child,’ she explains.

The mural in Tony’s bedroom was made from a vintage travel poster Anna had enlarged, and she painted the yellow stripes and made themed accessories herself. ‘Pretty much everything in his room has been made or customised by me,’ she says
The mural in Tony’s bedroom was made from a vintage travel poster Anna had enlarged, and she painted the yellow stripes and made themed accessories herself. ‘Pretty much everything in his room has been made or customised by me,’ she says

Her keen eye for pattern and colour doesn’t mean that she doesn’t make the odd decorating mistake, however – she painted her living room grey, but it didn’t fit with her usual style, and she soon covered it over with a mural of a Dutch floral painting. ‘It’s now my favourite room in the house, as it is so cosy and inviting,’ she says.

A runner rug, green feature wall and a display of Anna’s trademark patterned plates help to draw the eye to the double doors and the view out onto the garden, for a feeling of light, depth and space
A runner rug, green feature wall and a display of Anna’s trademark patterned plates help to draw the eye to the double doors and the view out onto the garden, for a feeling of light, depth and space

A self-confessed decorating addict, Anna admits that she will never stop changing up her home. ‘I’ve worked my magic on every corner and I’m always planning the next project,’ she says. ‘I love creating a vibrant, happy space for our family.’

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Feature Maxine Brady. Photos David Giles. 

This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?