‘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.
Use complementing rugs to define the space in an open-plan room
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.
The blue cabinet is part of the IKEA Billy bookcase range, although they no longer make it in navy blue. It was a great price for such a large piece of furniture and matches the colour scheme perfectly
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.
Claire fell in love with the sewing machine, even though she doesn’t sew. ‘I enjoy being surrounded by beautiful things – plus, it was only a fiver from a pop-up shop.’ The table runner is from La Redoute
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.
Claire was hunting for something for this corner of the kitchen and found this rocking chair from a local Facebook seller. It was bright blue, but Claire painted it in Annie Sloan Country Grey. The printing tray on the wall came from My Little Vintage and the Three Bee cushion was from Dunelm
‘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.’
Good idea! Stripped doors always add charm to a property.
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.’
The wooden door came from a cabinet in the master bedroom. Claire took it out to install the new wardrobes but wanted to keep it, so she propped it up here. The glass pressed-flower pictures came from Urban Outfitters and she bought the round side tables from Next
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.
Claire started painting the lounge walls with the same blue she used in the kitchen but it never looked quite right in here. She eventually settled on Dock Blue by Little Greene. ‘It does make the room quite dark but I love how cosy it is.’ Claire bought the sofa in a sale from Next for about £200. The three pictures on the wall also came from Next
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.’
Claire loves collecting accessories with insects on them and they go well with her botanical theme. The mirror above the fireplace was from Brand Alley. It originally had a red outer rim that Claire has painted gold
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.
‘The bedroom is probably my favourite room, I love the colours and the artwork. It’s slightly unusual but because I’ve stuck to complementary colours, I think it works.’ The William Morris Blackthorn wallpaper, from House of Hackney, was originally an eye-watering £185 a roll, but Claire bought it from a sample sale for £30. ‘I wanted something busy and floral for the panel behind the bed and this was a perfect match to the Hague Blue paint.’
‘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.
‘I haven’t really done much in the spare room yet. I’m still toying with the look I want for it but it’s probably next on my to-do list.’ The crow print came from Hilary and Flo and the typewriter came from a local antiques shop
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.’
‘I love the drama on this side of the bedroom. I know it can seem a bit bonkers, with the floral prints next to a fake glass window on a panelled wall, but I think it’s quite fun,’ says Claire
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.’
The bathroom had been refitted just before Claire bought the house, so it didn’t make financial sense to rip it out. But it was covered with beige, mosaic tiles that really weren’t to her taste, so she covered them with tile stickers from Quadrostyle, which completely transformed the space. The Afaw Berber-style runner came from La Redoute. The chest of drawers came from Claire’s dad and were originally untreated pine that Claire painted with Dulux Egyptian Cotton paint, then sanded back to look aged
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.
Claire changed the modern basin and bath taps as she wanted something more in keeping with a period property. She bought these in the January sale from Victorian Plumbing. The bottom half of the wall is painted in Valspar Cathedral Green
‘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!’
This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?