Bespoke wallpaper designer Diane Hill’s bright and cheerful home is a testament to her incredible imagination and artistry.
Here, she shares the story of her home makeover…
Our house hunt started with a near misstep. We nearly talked ourselves into buying a tiny Victorian terrace, which would have been a disaster, as I was already pregnant with our daughter, Bonnie.
Thankfully, our heads were turned by this semi-detached house opposite a beautiful park, with three bedrooms, a loft, garage and large garden.
Welcome to my home…
A bit about me I’m Diane Hill and I’m a decorative artist at @dianehilldesign. I live with my husband, Matt, and our children, Rosie and Bonnie.
Where I live My home is a three-bedroom semi in Cheshunt, built in the 1960s. We’ve lived here for five years.
There was a compromise, however: the property hadn’t been touched since it was built in the 1960s and needed a huge amount of work. By the time we were handed the keys, we had two months until Bonnie was due.
We stayed at our parents’ for the first few weeks as the renovations got started.
On day one, the whole house was rewired, then we upgraded all of the plumbing, as well as changing the downstairs layout to open up the living space and installing double doors out onto the garden.
We were then left with a raw shell and everything else was up to us.
We worked for two weeks during the freezing winter with no heating or running water – we had to use our neighbour’s hose just to grout the tiles and wash our brushes! Somehow, we pulled it off.
I went into labour as I was building furniture and Matt and his dad were installing our bedroom doors, which were actually the last big jobs we had left to do before we could decorate.
Bonnie timed it to perfection.
A few months after Bonnie’s arrival, I decided to set up my own company, Diane Hill Design and it’s gone from strength to strength. I was featured in Vogue within the first few months and I’ve been on the BBC too.
I’m happier than I’ve ever been and this house was the catalyst for it all.
A bit more about my home…
What I wanted to change Everything! We gutted the whole house and started again. It hadn’t been touched since it was built and needed a complete overhaul – electrics, plumbing, the works.
How I made it my own We opened up the ground floor, installing double doors out onto the garden, and I’ve introduced my own murals throughout.
My favourite part It has to be the multi-coloured chinoiserie design I painted in Bonnie’s nursery.
Vivid shades of blue pop against matte white, most dramatically on the deep teal chimney breast.
‘I fought hard to keep the original fireplace,’ says Diane. ‘It would have been so much easier to tear it down, but I was dead set on retaining as much history as possible.’
On the opposite wall, Diane’s terrazzo-style paint effect also harks back to the house’s ’60s roots.
At evenings and weekends, the industrious pair installed the kitchen after watching YouTube videos. They also lifted the old carpet, sanded original floorboards and stripped wallpaper.
‘I love the contrast between the blue metro tiles and the dusky pink walls,’ Diane explains. ‘I chose the oak worktop to echo the warmth of the original floorboards, which we worked so hard to reveal!’
Patterned floor tiles, kept to monochrome shades, balance the sunny yellow walls, while a selection of houseplants give the bathroom a fresh feel.
Continuing the yellow walls from the hallway, the bathroom uses grey grout to enhance the geometric appeal of the metro tiles.
‘The mural in here draws together all of the natural textures I love: marble, concrete and plaster. The white furniture and mirrored wardrobes create the contemporary feel I was after and Matt built the L-shaped dressing table into the alcove.
‘The design behind the shelving was actually a really last-minute job, as I realised I needed something soft to tie the whole scheme together.’
Painted with subtle diagonal brush strokes, the colour palette was inspired by Diane’s ’90s childhood. Daughter Rosie’s own artworks of an apple and a pear are hung proudly for all to admire.
‘Rosie is so like me when I was growing up; she’s passionately creative,’ Diane smiles.
‘I felt it was very important that she had her own art desk so she can experiment, learn and have fun. You never know,
I could be changing my business’s name to Hill & Daughter Design in the not-so-distant future.’
What I learned…
Always consider lighting first. We didn’t factor in the cost and ended up getting a shock. It’s just so important for creating the right ambience; for example, under and above kitchen cupboards.
Try not to scrimp on things that are too difficult to upgrade in future, such as flooring or your bathroom suite. Function always wins over aesthetics.
Creatives can get carried away with wonderful DIY ideas that may not stand the test of time. My biggest learning curve was spray-painting our kitchen tiles in a geometric pattern. I realised that they just wouldn’t work – they kept scratching. Learn to let go of creative ideas that won’t work in a practical sense.
This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Home Style magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?