Home makeover: ‘I added pattern and colour to every room’

Take a look inside to see how Sarah added character to her new-build home

Home makeover: 'I added pattern and colour to every room'

Sarah Gibbons-Poole used her background in textile design to turn the plain rooms of her modern new-build into a colour-filled family home. Here, she talks us through her home makeover…

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My story…

We’re only the second family to have lived in this house, so thankfully it was in great condition, and it was nice knowing that everything was in working order.

It felt like a house we could put our own stamp on, and it was a bonus that all the rooms were plain as it gave me a blank canvas to work with.

‘I bought this Cole & Son wallpaper from eBay but there was only one roll. I wasn’t sure where to use it, and initially thought it might go in the bathroom, but it works really well here. We bought the dining set off the previous owners as it works well in the space’
‘I bought this Cole & Son wallpaper from eBay but there was only one roll. I wasn’t sure where to use it, and initially thought it might go in the bathroom, but it works really well here. We bought the dining set off the previous owners as it works well in the space’

Being a new-build, we thought nothing big needed doing, but actually there was lots we wanted to do.

‘I love a good clash of colour and pattern – no room is safe!’ says Sarah
‘I love a good clash of colour and pattern – no room is safe!’ says Sarah

I love a roaring fire, so the first thing on our to-do list was getting one installed. It was actually really easy as it went on an external wall and only took the builders three days.

Welcome to my home…

A bit about me I’m Sarah Gibbons-Poole, 35, a fashion merchandiser. I live with my husband, Chris Poole, 35, a digital IT manager, and our one-year-old daughter, Cleo Valentine. I Instagram our home updates at @step_into_no.17.

Where I live Our home is a detached four-bedroom house in Wickford, Essex. It was built in 2014 and we moved here in October 2016.

Sarah Gibbons-Poole

The kitchen hadn’t been tiled and we kept getting splashes on the walls, so that was the next job.

We don’t have spare money to keep changing things to follow trends, so we picked traditional tiles as we wanted our big spends to go on classic fixtures and fittings that would last.

‘Colour coding my accessories on these simple IKEA shelves has turned them into a real statement piece of furniture, and nothing beats a rainbow in my eyes!’
‘Colour coding my accessories on these simple IKEA shelves has turned them into a real statement piece of furniture, and nothing beats a rainbow in my eyes!’

I’ve got a habit of starting things but not quite finishing them, so Chris encouraged me to do one room at a time.

‘The landing is really dark, so adding this colour block of orange brightens up the space and I love the clash with the blue. The shelves are from La Redoute and the cacti and plants are from a local garden centre – they were so cute that I just went mad and bought them all’
‘The landing is really dark, so adding this colour block of orange brightens up the space and I love the clash with the blue. The shelves are from La Redoute and the cacti and plants are from a local garden centre – they were so cute that I just went mad and bought them all’

I worked my way around the house, giving each space colour on the walls, then I finished them off with bright furniture and accessories. We’ve managed to create a beautiful home that’s a true reflection of our love of bright colours!

A bit more about my home…

What I wanted to change Because it was a new-build, we didn’t have the renovation issues period properties often have, but the whole house was full of magnolia box-like rooms, so I needed to find ways to add lots of personality.

How I made it my own We both love colour so we did a few practical projects straightaway. I then chose paints, fabrics and home-made crafts to add character, pattern and texture to each space.

My favourite part Probably the living room, purely because we put a lot of work into it and we spend most of our time there.

Sarah Gibbons-Poole

Kitchen

‘We didn’t choose the kitchen cabinets, but luckily I love them, and I’ll be forever grateful that the previous owners chose handleless doors as I love the clean, modern look they give. I do want to change the high gloss floor tiles. I’m sure they looked fabulous in the showroom, but I can’t keep them clean and most of the time they’re covered in cat pawprints.

‘This room is constantly changing. The dining table was originally under the pendant lights, but we moved it to be by the doors out to the garden, and then put the cuddle chair in the darker alcove to create a snug, which works better with the layout of the room. We’re also thinking of bringing the cocktail cabinet in here too’
‘This room is constantly changing. The dining table was originally under the pendant lights, but we moved it to be by the doors out to the garden, and then put the cuddle chair in the darker alcove to create a snug, which works better with the layout of the room. We’re also thinking of bringing the cocktail cabinet in here too’

‘Chris called our last house the “Technicolour Dream Home” and I promised him this house would be neutral and minimal, which is why we chose these classic wall tiles. However, I can’t help bringing colour into a room, so the neutral look didn’t go far beyond this part of the house!’

‘We call this our ‘Caffeine Station’. This was meant to be a utility room, but we both love coffee so we decided to make it into an area that would brighten our mornings. The ‘Oh Hell Yes’ prints are by the illustrator Rob Lowe’
‘We call this our ‘Caffeine Station’. This was meant to be a utility room, but we both love coffee so we decided to make it into an area that would brighten our mornings. The ‘Oh Hell Yes’ prints are by the illustrator Rob Lowe’

Dining room

‘We wanted to give this room a big hit of colour so we decided to add some drama and go dark with this Breton Blue paint from Dulux. We love to entertain so we created the bar area in the corner by upcycling a vintage cabinet and adding IKEA shelves above it to store glasses.

‘When we moved in, we committed the interior sin of decorating this – our least- used room – first, but it’s been fun having a special space to entertain in, though the past year put a spanner in the works for that. It’s quite eclectic in style, combining the Eastern-inspired lanterns, vintage cabinet, and modern dining chairs, but it seems to work’
‘When we moved in, we committed the interior sin of decorating this – our least-used room – first, but it’s been fun having a special space to entertain in, though the past year put a spanner in the works for that. It’s quite eclectic in style, combining the Eastern-inspired lanterns, vintage cabinet, and modern dining chairs, but it seems to work’

‘I like the way it makes people feel comfortable enough to go and help themselves, though Chris does love to make a cocktail.

‘I love creating a tablescape, which of course usually includes a paper pompom or two. Layering up these pretty dishes from M&S with simple paper napkins adds the finishing touch’
‘I love creating a tablescape, which of course usually includes a paper pompom or two. Layering up these pretty dishes from M&S with simple paper napkins adds the finishing touch’

‘I love to create a fun tablescape when friends come round, and I’m still always amazed how much colour can transform a space. It’s a nice luxury having this as a formal dining room, but I think in the future we may turn it into a playroom for Cleo.’

Living room

‘It’s easy to think that because it’s a new-build everything needs to be modern, but I don’t believe that. I really wanted to add charm and create a classic look, and once we had the fireplace installed and I’d put the mirror up over the mantel, I just wanted to run with the timeless feel in the room.

‘Putting up the simple IKEA shelves gave me a chance to display the photographs and prints we’ve collected over the years. I particularly love the Cleo print, from Ivy Print Design. I got the leather sofa from my grandparents’
‘Putting up the simple IKEA shelves gave me a chance to display the photographs and prints we’ve collected over the years. I particularly love the Cleo print, from Ivy Print Design. I got the leather sofa from my grandparents’

‘The Oval Room Blue paint by Farrow & Ball is quite traditional looking, but it’s an easy colour to live with and it goes with anything we put with it, which is just as well as we’ve chosen a lot of different textures and colours for our furniture and accessories.

Style idea! Low-hanging pictures give a modern look
Style idea! Low-hanging pictures give a modern look

‘I studied Textile Design at college and enjoy sewing so I’ve made most of the cushions myself. I love a clash of fabrics, and I get some great designer bits from leftover projects.’

‘I like to support local businesses where I can, so I chose this simple, classic stone surround from a place near us called Lower Barn Farm. It reminds me of the fireplace in my mum’s period property, but it also works well in this modern room’
‘I like to support local businesses where I can, so I chose this simple, classic stone surround from a place near us called Lower Barn Farm. It reminds me of the fireplace in my mum’s period property, but it also works well in this modern room’

Master bedroom

‘I always wanted this room to be mint green as it’s such a relaxing colour. I discovered a company called Rebel Walls who make printed wallpapers to the exact measurement of your room, so I talked to them about a design and they sent this gorgeous Jungle pattern.

‘The bedside cabinets are from IKEA, but I’ve changed the handles to give them an original twist. The bed was a cheap eBay find’
‘The bedside cabinets are from IKEA, but I’ve changed the handles to give them an original twist. The bed was a cheap eBay find’

‘I’d never wallpapered before, but it came in strips that matched up exactly so it was easy to hang. I wanted to cover the whole room in plants, but I needed a way of adding them without distracting from the mural.

Style idea! Keep bedding patterns simple if you have busy walls
Style idea! Keep bedding patterns simple if you have busy walls

‘I initially thought I’d have a long, high shelf but then I saw people using pegs in their hallways and thought I’d give it a go on the wall. They’re really effective and the real hanging plants go really well with the mural behind.’

Cleo’s room

‘We chose neutral grey for the walls in Cleo’s room, which is quite unusual for us, but it’s a really calm, relaxing space. I wanted to add colour and make it fun with crafty bits that I made myself, like the bright edging I attached to the elephant lamp. Long-term, I want her to choose her own style when she’s ready so everything I’ve decorated with is removable.

‘The little tassels on Cleo’s toy basket look really effective but I just made them from cheap wool I spotted in Poundland. The curtains are from Bluebellgrey – the design reminds me of a watercolour painting’
‘The little tassels on Cleo’s toy basket look really effective but I just made them from cheap wool I spotted in Poundland. The curtains are from Bluebellgrey – the design reminds me of a watercolour painting’

‘I made the tiny pompoms from wool and fixed them on with Command strips. I’ve got paper pompoms dotted all around the house as they are such a cheap and easy way to add colour to any room, and they really stand out in the corner here, but they can easily be taken down if we want a change.’

‘This book storage is actually a repurposed spice rack. I created another gallery wall above it, especially for Cleo. The Hathi elephant table lamp is from Home Essentials’
‘This book storage is actually a repurposed spice rack. I created another gallery wall above it, especially for Cleo. The Hathi elephant table lamp is from Home Essentials’

What I learned…

It’s easy and cheap to decorate using colour and accessories. With good-quality, cheaper paint brands now available, it’s possible to update wall colours on a budget, and you can pick up cheap frames to mount your postcards to start off your own gallery wall. 

Don’t be quick to change the bigger items; live with them for a bit and see how you can make them work for you. I didn’t like the bathroom tiles, but with a coat of paint on the walls and my choice of accessories, it’s a room I can now enjoy relaxing in.

Your home should be a reflection of you. We spend so much time here, especially over the past year, that we shouldn’t be afraid to make it our own. Very little can go wrong with painting a wall and if you don’t like it, you can always change it.

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