Home makeover: 'It took me nearly two decades, but now I finally have my dream home'
Jo Hughes didn’t realise she had a stylist's eye and a flair for design until a windfall allowed her to renovate her whole home to suit her quirky style
Jo Hughes’ home is full of colour and inspiring design ideas, but it wasn’t always like this.
Jo bought this house with her ex-husband in 2001, and although the couple split after five years, Jo decided to stay here as the location was perfect, being near her family and her daughters' school.
However, she never got around to decorating the house to her style. ‘I was busy working and bringing up my family and I didn’t have the money or time to update the place, so it stayed the same for about 15 years,’ she says. A few years ago, however, Jo came into some money via an old pension scheme, which she decided to plough into the house.
‘I really felt it was my time to create the beautiful home I’d always wanted,’ says Jo. She wanted to begin with the infrastructure of the property to make sure that it was all sound before the cosmetic work began, so she installed a new boiler and had all the windows replaced.
‘After that I pretty much designed each room one at a time, thinking about the feel and look I wanted to achieve in each space. I’m lucky that Kelly, my daughter, does all the decorating, which saves a fortune – I know she does a better job than anyone I could employ.’
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Jo’s bedroom hadn’t been decorated for years so she decided to start there. ‘I wanted to treat myself and create a beautiful, relaxing room that I'd look forward to spending time in.’
But when Jo’s builder ripped out the old wardrobe, he discovered a leak that had been a slow drip for years, so the wall had to be restored and the whole room replastered before it could be decorated, which added unexpected costs and time. However, Jo wasn’t disheartened and carried on with the renovation.
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The kitchen came next, though this was fairly straightforward because, as Jo explains, ‘the room is a natural U-shape so it's pretty easy to work with.’ Jo wanted neutral cabinets that would stand the test of time and she also chose a classic wood-effect laminate for the worktop.
‘I knew I wanted to add an unusual edge, so I sourced these copper handles to give the room a touch of unexpected glamour.’ When the kitchen was finished, Jo decided to host Christmas for her family but there were challenges ahead. ‘At the beginning of December, I was heading to work when I heard a massive bang.
I ran upstairs and water was gushing into the bathroom; the plastic water coil in the cabinet had exploded.’ The old stopcock was really rusty, so it took Jo 15 minutes to turn the water off, and by then the rooms below had been flooded, and the new kitchen was ruined. ‘We had to take all the cabinets out and throw the flooring away,’ says Jo.
‘Then I had to have warm air dryers in the house for two months before I could redecorate, so we ended up having Christmas dinner in the living room.’
After what Jo calls ‘The Disaster,’ it made sense to decorate the bathroom. Jo chose to update the room with a Crittall-style shower screen and black bath panel and cabinet, which she upcycled with spare pieces of wallpaper.
After this she moved on to the living room. The gallery wall in the front room takes pride of place and took six months to come together, but although the main living room was the last space to be updated, even before Jo started she knew exactly what look she wanted. ‘I've visited LA a few times and wanted to recreate that glamorous, slightly retro, hotel-style vibe.
I’d been lusting after the ‘vintage’ sign from Maisons du Monde for ages, but it kept selling out, so I was chuffed when I finally managed to get one and it became the starting point for the look of this space.’ Jo loves the dusky pink and green colour palette that is popular at the moment and chose the paint from Wilko.
‘I love its colours and the paint is really good value, so it won’t cost a fortune if I decide to change the look.’
Conservatory- dining room
The family use the conservatory as a dining room because it gets beautiful light streaming through, so Jo updated it with bold black walls, then chose bright green blinds to keep the room feeling fresh and stylish.
In total the work probably took Jo about two years, delayed by ‘The Disaster’, but she says it's been a learning curve. ‘I had a strong sense of what I wanted which helped, and through the process I've discovered a passion and skill for design and colour that I never knew I had.’
This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?