Home makeover: 'People are amazed I did this all myself!'
Tapping into new-found DIY skills helped Claire Williams add drama and character to her Edwardian home
‘I fell in love with this house at hello,’ laughs Claire Williams, remembering her first viewing. ‘I’d been renting close by but wanted to get on the property ladder and the moment I stepped inside, the period features, fireplaces, picture rails and built-in cupboards immediately appealed to my aesthetic.
Plus, it had been owned by a builder who renovated rundown properties, so there was no structural work to be done,’ she explains with a smile.
The builder had fitted a new kitchen and bathroom, along with new radiators, carpets and windows, which was perfect as it meant Claire could move straight in and concentrate on the fun bit of decorating and accessorising.
But she wasn’t really sure what look she wanted, so she lived in the house for six months before doing anything, ‘although I did quickly fit a new front door because the old one was really draughty and not energy efficient. It also wasn’t too secure.’
Come on in...
I am Claire Williams, 37, an English teacher, and I like to show off my interior style on Instagram @_lucky_11_
My home is a two-bedroom Edwardian terrace, built circa 1910, in Northampton town centre
I learnt To stick to my guns when others question my choices. The professionals don’t always understand the look you’re trying to achieve and sometimes choose convenience over style
Next to do is The spare room, which hasn’t had much attention yet, though as I’m still working through my ideas for it
Claire lives in a conservation area, so any external changes have to be sympathetic to the character of the property and the local council have to approve them. She picked a traditional-looking black composite door and luckily permission was granted immediately.
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The first room Claire tackled was the living room. ‘Blue has always been my favourite colour and it was my mum who sourced the wallpaper.
'She’s done a few interior design courses so I trusted her opinion and she was willing to put it up so it was a win-win situation.’ But this inspired Claire to learn how to wallpaper herself.
‘I knew the basics but wasn’t confident enough to try it myself,’ she admits. ‘But after watching mum I decided to give it a go. My thought was that realistically it’s only surface work and it’s easy to repaint if I don’t like it.’
Claire researched what was required by watching some You Tube videos and reading a few renovation blogs. Then she went out, bought the kit and papered the bedroom. ‘It was far easier than I thought and really didn’t take long,’ she says.
Although she admits that as soon as it was up she didn’t like the colour or style so it came down a few months later. ‘Though, thankfully, it peeled straight off,’ she says.
After giving the wall a good scrub, Claire replaced it with the fabulous William Morris Blackthorn print she found in a House of Hackney sample sale. ‘It was an absolute bargain and a much better match for the Hague Blue walls that I love.’
Doing this made Claire feel braver, so she decided to tackle the picture rail and moulding to form panelling in the bedroom. ‘I’d seen a few people do it on Instagram and it was just a case of using a cheap mitre block to cut some moulding, that literally cost a few pounds, then gluing it on and securing it with a few tacks.
When I tell people I did it they’re amazed, but as long as you measure properly you can’t really go wrong. I’d recommend anyone give it a go,’ says Claire. ‘It’s so satisfying to complete the work yourself and much cheaper too.’
The only major work Claire decided to commission rather than doing herself were some wardrobes in the master bedroom.
‘I got several quotes and although I was determined to have a matt finish, most places pushed me to go for gloss, which felt too modern for the property, especially in the bedroom,’ explains Claire.
‘I was also adamant about having top cupboards above the wardrobes, not only to make good use of the entire space, but also to avoid having 12ft-high wardrobe doors, which might warp. I’m so glad I stuck to my guns on this and didn’t compromise because they look great and are really useful.
The look of her home has evolved over time, though Claire has always been a fan of vintage shopping and admits that she loves 'giving a new home to pre-loved bits and pieces. I think it’s the nostalgia of being reminded of what my grandparents and aunties had in their homes when I was little.’
But she’s also inspired by homes magazines, ‘plus I’ve found lots of beautiful interiors accounts on Instagram that have helped make me be more daring and spontaneous about taking risks with pattern and colour.'
Starting with a blank canvas meant that Claire could do exactly as she pleased with the décor and she admits she’s always painting something somewhere. ‘It’s been hard work, but it’s been worth all the effort and every penny so far.
'And I love that it’s mine. Closing the door to my own home after a long day never gets old, though I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely finished. I’ll probably just start redecorating each room again!’