Home makeover: ‘My home is bold and bright’

Cassie Schifano used eye-catching colour and patterns to create her one-of-a-kind interior style

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'

When Cassie and Ben Schifano got together, they knew they wanted a house full of children. But, by the time they had four, they were bursting out of their three-bedroom house.

Advertisement

When they first viewed the house that they now call home, Cassie giggled all the way round because it was such a mess. It was single-glazed, had an asbestos flue, old wiring and the plumbing didn’t work.

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘My home is bold and bright’ says Cassie

But it had a great layout with potential for extending, so even before they’d exchanged, Cassie had already drawn out plans of how they could best use the space in her head. Here, she shares her renovation experience…

My story

‘When we moved in, we weren’t daunted because we’re people who get things done. The first winter here was really cold so we fairly swiftly fitted new windows at the front of the house. Then the following summer we moved into a rental property and the real work began.

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘I love that my home is constantly evolving. We originally bought our dining table when we got married and it was shabby chic in style. We recently sanded it down, stained the top and painted the legs – now it looks completely different, it’s like having a new table. The pink and yellow chairs are from Wayfair and I love the way they stand out against the blue wall’

‘We extended the back to create a massive kitchen-diner and built two extra bedrooms above it. We turned one of the existing bedrooms into a family bathroom and had new electrics and plumbing fitted. Then we had the whole house plastered and were left with a shell to finish.

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘The Quirky B Liberty hall stair carpet, from Alternative Flooring, was a bit of an extravagance, but one I couldn’t resist. Initially, I thought it was way too expensive, so I found an alternative. But the floor wasn’t finished for six months and when we came to buy the carpet, it was out of stock, so we decided to splash out with this in the end’

‘Ben has been incredible doing most of the work himself, laying floors, fitting the kitchen and decorating the house, though YouTube has been a wonderful friend and we’ve both picked up skills along the way.

There have been stressful moments and you can get decision fatigue when there’s a whole house to do, butI love the design process and making things beautiful. If asked, I would do it all again.’

Welcome to my home…

A bit about me I’m Cassie Schifano and I’m married to Ben, a mechanic. We have six children: Kiki, Isadora, Arrietty, Mitzi, Fionnuala and Huxley. I document our interiors on Instagram at @wheretheeightdwell.

Where I live Home is a 1950s five-bedroom detached house in Woking. We moved here in December 2015. 

Cassie Schifano

Living room

‘People always tell me that I’m brave with my interior choices, but my mantra is ‘if you don’t like it or get bored, you can always change it.’ Lots of our furniture is reclaimed, but we wanted to splash out a bit on the living room as it’s our grown-up space, though the blue sofa was a bargain from Dunelm.

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘Initially I thought I’d made a mistake with this Flora wallpaper from John Lewis as the colours didn’t work as I’d hoped. But adding the right print and placing furniture near it in complementary colours has made a massive difference and now it looks great. We got the cabinet from Facebook Marketplace. I painted it yellow and lined it with Harlequin wallpaper from our old house. The rug is from Wayfair and the sofa is a second-hand eBay buy’

‘We had the units painted and built in and got someone in to do the wallpapering. It would probably have taken Ben four weekends, whereas a professional came in and finished it in a day and a half.

‘I believe it’s important to decide not only where to save or spend money, but also where to make the best use of your time. Saying that, Ben did lay the parquet floor after watching a YouTube video.’

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘I was really set on having navy spot wallpaper and searched for months until I found this gem. The cabinet from eBay was an easy upcycling project. The lamp is from Graham & Green and the shade is from Gillian Arnold. For similar wallpaper try the Dotty wallpaper from Graham & Brown’

Kitchen

‘I love cooking and entertaining, so I spent a lot of time designing this room. We looked at all the standard kitchen suppliers but didn’t find anything we liked. Then a flyer came through the door from Just Fitted Kitchens saying, ‘bespoke kitchens at bargain prices.’

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘I was inspired to mix colour and wood from an image I found on Pinterest and I love the retro feel and the warmth of the walnut against the orange. We were lucky that we didn’t have any major disasters during the refit, though it did take a year to finish the concrete worktops. It was a special moment when they went in, as we’d just been using a big piece of ply on the island for 12 months’

‘I went to them with my colours and the plans I’d drawn out and they made up the cabinets, which Ben fitted. We then started looking at worktops but couldn’t afford granite and didn’t want wood because of the upkeep and we thought they would clash with the cupboards, so we started investigating concrete worktops.

‘After watching lots of YouTube videos, Ben made the worktops himself, though he joked about the island being the size of Sicily, where his dad’s from.’

A bit more about my home…

What I wanted to change Everything! It originally had four bedrooms and one bathroom. It needed a complete renovation.

How I made it my own We added new electrics and plumbing, and then an extension, an extra bedroom, a new kitchen and two bathrooms. Then we decorated it all. 

My favourite part I love the lounge because it’s tidy all the time! The children are allowed in but only with us. It’s a bit of a sanctuary for Ben and me.

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'

Master bedroom

‘The bed has followed us around for years, but the bedside cabinets, from Swoon Editions, were a new, quite expensive, buy. While the rest of the house is for the children, this room is a bit of a refuge from the chaos for Ben and me, so we were happy to investment in some beautiful furniture for the space. I still walk in and think, ‘this is lovely.’

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘I struggled with how to dress the window in here until I saw this cool idea of a corner curtain on a house tour I went on. I found a curved rail and then made the curtains myself. The duvet set is from Dunelm’

‘The green wall is, uninspiringly, called 6004. It’s an RAL colour mixed at a Dulux station, but it looks beautiful against the pink curtains and accessories. The ceiling chandelier is really special to me.

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘I really wanted to fill these pretty pink frames with independent prints, but square prints are hard to come by, so it took a while. I was delighted with the two I found from Holly Maguire and Emily’s Embroidery Art. The bedside cabinet is an investment piece from Swoon Editions and the lamp is from Habitat’

‘I fell in love with it when I was in Wales and when I told Ben he suggested we go and buy it immediately. So we called the shop, asked them to stay open for us and drove to get it there and then.’

What I learned…

The internet is your friend, both for design and practical help. You can be inspired by the millions of images out there or learn to do anything via online videos if you’re ready to give it a go.

Don’t be scared of change. If you put something up, enjoy it while you like it and change it when you don’t. Interior design choices don’t need to be forever and décor can constantly evolve.

I love colour and can’t imagine a home without it. I never thought I was creative because I couldn’t draw, but I now realise being creative is also about ideas and concepts that can make something beautiful.

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'

Bathroom

‘With eight of us in the house, we were keen for the family bathroom to be ready as soon as possible, so we paid a tiler to do the walls and Ben laid the floor tiles.

Home makeover: 'My home is bold and bright'
‘The encaustic tiles, from Best Tile UK, are all seconds and come as a random mix so were only £1 each. It did mean that we didn’t get a choice so there are some colours that I wouldn’t have naturally chosen, but I love the finished effect and we made a real saving, so it was worth it’
Advertisement

‘The bathroom sink unit is made out of a vintage sideboard we bought on eBay. I’d seen lots of images of sinks resting on units on Pinterest but didn’t know if they were genuine or not. I asked our plumbers if they could modify our cabinet and adapt the basins from Victorian Plumbing to create a double sink and they did a really good job.’

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