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.
Choosing an eye-catching gold velvet sofa and armchair, both from DFS, adds a sumptuous air of luxury to this room, while the soft grey on the walls makes the black-framed gallery of prints stand out. ‘Everyone asks me what colour the walls are, but the grey was matched to the grey in the bedroom wallpaper, so it hasn’t actually got a name,’ explains Jo. The large wicker pots are from Next
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 bought the carpet in a local shop before I had any plan for the hallway. It had 40 per cent off and I fell in love with the bold monochrome pattern,’ says Jo. ‘I asked the seller to store it for me, but with the time it took to do the whole house he ended up keeping it for nine months!’ Jo chose a beautiful piece of English pippy oak with the bark showing to be made into a console table, then she added legs from The Hairpin Leg Co. ‘They were originally a yellow that didn’t complement the door, so I ended up spraying them gold,’ says Jo. The Fred dachshund lamp is from Dowsing & Reynolds, the mirror is from Aldi and the front door is painted in English Yellow from Annie Sloan
‘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.
‘Don’t worry or overthink too much. At the end of the day it’s only a bit of paint and a few cushions, so what’s the worst that can happen?’ says Jo
‘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.’
Steal Jo’s style
Jo’s bedroom was tired, dark and cluttered, with old fashioned pieces of pine furniture, so it really needed a complete update. ‘I love pink’ admits Jo, ‘it’s calming, soothing, pretty and pleases my senses.’ As she has coordinated it with greys and greens, Jo has managed to create a relaxing room that looks feminine without being too girly. The paisley wallpaper is from Laura Ashley, the wall hanging came from Next and the duvet set and throws came from George Home
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.’
‘I couldn’t have a traditional wardrobe because of the chest of drawers up against the wall and the space the bed takes up, so I chose a fitted Japanese screen-style wardrobe with sliding doors, made by a local family company, Strong Fittings,’ says Jo. The classic Malm drawers are from Ikea and the copper ceiling shade was £30 from Matalan
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.
Good idea! For a minimal, pared-back look, swap bedside drawers for a handy tray table
‘It was important for me to choose a classic kitchen that could stand the test of time because I don’t want to have to redo it if trends change,’ says Jo. She chose neutral, grey stone Shaker-style cabinets but has given them a modern twist by choosing copper handles from B&Q, which are easily changed if she ever wants an update. The cabinets were made by Strong Fittings and the black-and-white laminate flooring came from Best 4 Flooring, £10.99 per sq m
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.
Although these rose-gold utensils, from TK Maxx, add an unexpected touch of glamour to the kitchen, Jo says they are practical to use too. The black-and-white crockery, from Wilko, mirrors the monochrome theme dotted throughout
‘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.
This print, only £4.99 from TK Maxx, was meant to be a stop-gap until Jo had decided what she’d like to use as a splashback. ‘I get so many compliments about it that I’ve never got round to changing it! I just move it out of the way when I cook and then pop it back in place when I’m done,’ she explains. ‘I buy lots of my prints from TK Maxx online because their stock is more unusual than at many other high street shops’
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.’
‘Be brave! I love monochrome, but mix it with colour so it looks warm and striking, not cold or stark’ says Jo
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.
Jo was lucky that she chose a classic tile when her bathroom was first done years ago, so she didn’t need to update them this time around. They perfectly complement the current trend for black bathroom furniture and accessories. The slogan bath mat is £6 from Primark, the shower screen is from Victoria Plumb and the Brixton floor tiles are from Topps Tiles
Jo had been hunting for a screen for ages and found this one at a local warehouse sale that was selling vintage items. ‘As soon as I saw it I knew it was right, so I made Tilly stand by it while I found the sales person. At £95 it wasn’t cheap, but some things that you love are worth spending money on and I know I will love this forever. I love the quirky safari vibe it lends to this room.’ The green velvet armchair beanbag, from Bean Bag Bazaar, is a perfect match to the green sofa and is gorgeously soft to the touch. It’s also light, so it’s easy to pick up and move to the other lounge
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.
Jo is passionate about supporting small businesses, and an easy way to do this is to buy prints from independent artists, designers and illustrators. She finds new designs to add to her collection online and on social media. ‘I particularly love the Marilyn painting, courtesy of Jemima Davey, and the cheetah prints from Karina Mansfield, both on Instagram,’ she enthuses
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’d been lusting after the ‘vintage’ sign from Maisons du Monde for ages’ says Jo
‘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
Jo’s sister-in-law gave her the dining room table and chairs, but they were originally an orangey pine colour, so she transformed them by sanding them down and painting them, while daughter Kelly reupholstered the cushions with a striped fabric to match the ottoman. ‘This was my first foray into upcycling using my favourite Frenchic paint, and it came out really well. I’m also glad I didn’t chicken out of painting the walls black,’ admits Jo. ‘It was quite a bold move, but then again, it’s only paint, right? And I love the contrast with the green blinds.’ The polka dot rug is from IKEA.
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?