Home makeover: ‘Our house is full of character’

By mixing family treasures, salvaged bargains and upcycled finds, Sophie Mumford has created a chilled and comfy home with personality

The previous owners had installed a simple white-gloss kitchen that
included integrated appliances and high-quality quartz work surfaces.
As well as tiling and painting the walls, Sophie and Rich added open
shelves to boost storage and display treasures

Sophie and her husband Rich loved their two-bedroom maisonette in north London, but by the time their second little boy, Sonny, was born, they were quickly running out of space.

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They found a five-bedroom, semi-detached Edwardian house in Winchmore Hill, which was in good shape and had plenty of original features, and set about making it feel like home.

Colourful accessories brighten up the snug’s comfy grey sofa, which came from Sofa Workshop. The striking retro floor lamp – an original American design – was a great-value find at the local Southgate Auction Rooms
Colourful accessories brighten up the snug’s comfy grey sofa, which came from Sofa Workshop. The striking retro floor lamp – an original American design – was a great-value find at the local Southgate Auction Rooms

Over the last five years, they’ve decorated right through, adding dramatic colour, pops of pattern and extra furniture as and when they’ve needed it.

Here, Sophie shares her home makeover story…

The couple sanded, stained and varnished the original floorboards to get the desired finish. ‘We laid a big rug for softness, as the boys play in here a lot,’ says Sophie. ‘We gave the old flooring to some friends who could use it, so it didn’t go to waste either’
The couple sanded, stained and varnished the original floorboards to get the desired finish. ‘We laid a big rug for softness, as the boys play in here a lot,’ says Sophie. ‘We gave the old flooring to some friends who could use it, so it didn’t go to waste either’

My story…

My husband Rich and I agreed we wanted a family house with period details and plenty of character, and we knew we’d have to move further out for an affordable property that we loved.

With young children, a big renovation project wasn’t an option, so this house was perfect.

‘I love having personal, meaningful things around me,’ says Sophie. ‘Our retro, glass-topped coffee table used to belong to my granny and I found the big painting, covered in dust, in my late dad’s attic some years ago’
‘I love having personal, meaningful things around me,’ says Sophie. ‘Our retro, glass-topped coffee table used to belong to my granny and I found the big painting, covered in dust, in my late dad’s attic some years ago’

The interior was in good shape – the original features such as the ceiling mouldings and fireplaces were intact, and I loved the beautiful old stained glass in the French doors.

Some things, like the neutral bathroom and dark laminate flooring weren’t to my taste, but overall it was a blank canvas where we could make our own mark.

Welcome to my home

A bit about me I’m Sophie Mumford (@sophie_mumford_interiors). I live with my husband Rich, our sons Lennon, eight, Sonny, six, and Bowe, one, as well as our cat Luna.

Where I live Our home is a five-bedroom, semi-detached Edwardian house in Winchmore Hill, north London. We’ve lived here since May 2015. 

Sophie Mumford

I’ve inherited an eclectic style from my parents, who were both artists, and I love combining old and new.

Rich and I have various pieces of art that we treasure, and other than that, I just go for things I like, without worrying about any particular colour palette or theme.

Original features, such as the hall’s practical, tiled floor and pretty stained glass windows were a big draw for Sophie and Rich. The console table, which Sophie picked up on eBay, has been transformed with paint, découpage and new handles
Original features, such as the hall’s practical, tiled floor and pretty stained glass windows were a big draw for Sophie and Rich. The console table, which Sophie picked up on eBay, has been transformed with paint, découpage and new handles

I’m also very much a make-do-and-mend person, so I’ll always try to use what I’ve already got and buy second-hand from auctions, charity shops or the recycling centre whenever I can.

If something’s a bit battered, I can revamp it with paint, new handles or whatever. Our home’s always evolving as the boys grow up and our needs change, but it’s relaxed and welcoming – it’s definitely my happy place.

More about my home…

What I wanted to change The plain, neutral décor made the rooms feel sterile and uninspiring. The house needed colour, warmth and personality to reenergise it and bring out the period features.

How I made it my own We’ve introduced strong colours, bold patterns, characterful furniture and upcycled one-offs.

My favourite part The bathroom – it’s got real individuality. I love my beautiful bath and it didn’t cost a fortune. 

Home makeover: 'Our home is full of character'

Kitchen

‘We were very lucky to inherit a modern kitchen that didn’t need much money spent on it. It was a bit unexciting – just plain white units and pale grey walls – but that meant it was easy to refresh and update.

I was keen to paint the walls dark and I used Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe, which I think has worked well, as it’s bold and makes the units stand out.

The previous owners had installed a simple white-gloss kitchen that included integrated appliances and high-quality quartz work surfaces. As well as tiling and painting the walls, Sophie and Rich added open shelves to boost storage and display treasures
The previous owners had installed a simple white-gloss kitchen that included integrated appliances and high-quality quartz work surfaces. As well as tiling and painting the walls, Sophie and Rich added open shelves to boost storage and display treasures

‘I’m so pleased with my splashback. I spotted the tiles when I was researching for our bathroom. They were too expensive for a whole room, but I could afford a small area.

Those gorgeous teal-coloured tiles absolutely make the kitchen. Quite a few friends have seen them and then chosen something similar themselves.’

The kitchen shelves show off a characterful china collection alongside one of Sophie’s late father’s old cameras. ‘There’s pottery by local craftspeople, pieces from holidays abroad and even budget bits from TK Maxx, and most of it gets used every day,’ she says
The kitchen shelves show off a characterful china collection alongside one of Sophie’s late father’s old cameras. ‘There’s pottery by local craftspeople, pieces from holidays abroad and even budget bits from TK Maxx, and most of it gets used every day,’ she says

Dining area

‘Although the dining zone is part of the open-plan area, I wanted it to feel distinct from the kitchen and snug.

‘The off-white walls and tall cabinets in the alcoves were already here, and I like the airy, bright feel, so rather than extending the dark grey, we’ve kept the same light palette.

‘We got our dining room table on eBay’, says Sophie. ‘The top is a reclaimed French barn door, which we’ve protected with varnish. The old pendant light above was too small and didn’t have enough impact, so I replaced it with this fabulous beaded one from Matalan’
‘We got our dining room table on eBay’, says Sophie. ‘The top is a reclaimed French barn door, which we’ve protected with varnish. The old pendant light above was too small and didn’t have enough impact, so I replaced it with this fabulous beaded one from Matalan’

‘The room gets a lot of family use, but there’s nothing too precious here. The big table was an eBay buy and the rug was £60 from the local auction house, so spills and stains don’t really matter.

I like our mix-and-match dining chairs – we often change them if we spot appealing alternatives in a second-hand shop or the recycling centre.

‘I try to have a ‘one in, one out’ policy, so I’ll sell the ones we don’t want, or donate them to charity, so we don’t accumulate too much stuff.’

Main bedroom

‘I wanted our bedroom to feel restful but still interesting and eclectic. The subtle grey is perfect for the walls, as I’ve got some much-loved artwork on show in here.

The bedroom furniture is almost all second-hand. Our beautiful French bed and the antique wardrobe were both eBay finds. The bedside tables are upcycled, and there’s a little chest of drawers I rescued from my late dad’s art studio, years ago.

The bedroom walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Blackened, which acts as a subtle backdrop for the eclectic gallery wall. Vintage reading lamps add a contrasting functional feel beside the decorative upholstered bed
The bedroom walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Blackened, which acts as a subtle backdrop for the eclectic gallery wall. Vintage reading lamps add a contrasting functional feel beside the decorative upholstered bed

My desk, which I got at the local auction, sits in the big bay window. The curtains came with the house and while they’re not my ideal, they’re good-quality, neutral and would be expensive to replace.

We simplified the heavy, old-fashioned pelmet, which was dominating the room and blocking light, and now I don’t really notice them at all.’

Bowe’s bedroom

‘This little room is actually one of my favourites, because it has so much character. There’s a step down into it and it’s got a quaint, little fireplace and a gorgeous window.

It was very plain before, with the same dark-brown floor as the sitting room, so we’ve restored the original boards, which makes it feel much brighter.

‘I kept the curtains that were here in Bowe’s room already, as they’re neutral and do a great job blocking the light,’ says Sophie. ‘His cot is a family hand-me-down and the Lloyd Loom chair was a charity shop buy that I’ve painted’
‘I kept the curtains that were here in Bowe’s room already, as they’re neutral and do a great job blocking the light,’ says Sophie. ‘His cot is a family hand-me-down and the Lloyd Loom chair was a charity shop buy that I’ve painted’

To create a focal point and add colour, I hung a big Frida Kahlo poster, which will be easy to change when Bowe starts getting his own decorating ideas.

I upcycled the fitted wardrobe myself. It was hideous, but too awkward to get out of the room and I didn’t want to lose the storage. I painted it and découpaged the panels with a fabulous tiger wallpaper, and it’s completely transformed the wardrobe.’

Bathroom

‘The bathroom was our most ambitious project, as we’ve completely changed it. It was quite dated before, with a fitted bath and sand-coloured tiles on the walls and floor.

I wanted something more original and I put a big Pinterest folder together with all my ideas. I’d set my heart on a proper cast-iron bath and I found one to fit the space perfectly. Choosing a washstand I liked wasn’t so easy.

‘I used Down Pipe from Farrow & Ball again in the bathroom and it makes a crisp contrast against the white wall tiles. I spent ages looking at floor tiles, before spotting these in Wickes. They weren’t expensive and I love the 1980s vibe’
‘I used Down Pipe from Farrow & Ball again in the bathroom and it makes a crisp contrast against the white wall tiles. I spent ages looking at floor tiles, before spotting these in Wickes. They weren’t expensive and I love the 1980s vibe’

Eventually I got an old wooden chest for £20 at the recycling centre and we converted it.

Things have to be practical for a young family, so it’s got lots of storage and I’m not concerned about it getting watermarked, as it wasn’t a big investment.

‘I knew I wanted white metro wall tiles, with dark grey grout for impact. The black Crittall-look shower screen was another must-have as it picks up the rectangular pattern. I rescued the nifty corner cabinet from the recycling centre’
‘I knew I wanted white metro wall tiles, with dark grey grout for impact. The black Crittall-look shower screen was another must-have as it picks up the rectangular pattern. I rescued the nifty corner cabinet from the recycling centre’
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The brass taps I wanted were just too pricey, so I opted for chrome, but I found a lovely traditional design, so I’m more than happy with them.’

What I learned… 

Charity shops are a useful place to look for everyday crockery and glassware. I often find smaller accessories there too, such as vases, planters, picture frames and mirrors, and it’s guilt-free shopping as you don’t pay much.

Original art doesn’t need to be expensive. Look in antique shops and art fairs for well-priced items. Sites like Etsy and Artfinder offer affordable, original works, or look online for artists willing to work to commission within a budget. 

You can pep up a room quickly simply by moving things. We sometimes rearrange furniture, change the artwork around or swap rugs, plants, mirrors and bits and pieces from one room to another. Add a new lampshade or a couple of cushions for a budget-friendly refresh.

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