After four exciting years living in Dubai, Faye and her husband, Dean, decided they were ready to move back to England.
When the pair emigrated in 2007, their eldest child, Jessica, was a year old. By the time they had decided to return, around nine years ago, they had welcomed their second child, Jake, so more space was high on their list of priorities when they began looking for a house.
A generous garden and an interior layout that could provide comfortable family living without everyone falling over each other were also among Faye’s preferences but, try as she might, she couldn’t find a property that bit the bill in her preferred area. Making no headway with the search, Faye and Dean relented and began to look in other locations nearby.
Come on in…
We are Faye Noble, 44, a housewife, husband Dean, also 44, daughter Jessica, 13, son Jake, 10, and Patch the dog.
Our home is A four-bedroom detached property in south-east Essex. It was built in 1983 by the previous owners.
Not long after, the couple found a winner. ‘The house neighbouring my twin sister’s home in south-east Essex became available, and it was just too good an opportunity to miss,’ says Faye.
‘It wasn’t in our preferred location and needed a lot of love, but I knew the area well, having grown up there. I also knew that in order to get a similar property in our preferred area, we’d have to pay double the price and would still need to put in all the renovating work.’
Faye could see through the property’s somewhat garish and dated décor to the potential that lay beneath and, after weighing their options, the couple decided to make it their new family home.
But making the decision was the easy part because, with no previous experience of renovating a property, making their new home comfortable would be a challenging undertaking for Faye and Dean – especially with two young children.
‘We had only ever lived in new-builds before we bought this house, so we had never taken on such a huge project,’ says Faye.
The house needed a number of major structural improvements: the upstairs rooms had to be rejigged to make space for a bigger bathroom; there was an old mahogany conservatory that had to be ripped out; and the kitchen needed remodelling so that French doors could be added to allow light into what was a dark space.
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There were also many cosmetic alterations that Faye wanted to make, such as removing the dark, floral carpets and changing the avocado-green bathroom suite. None of these jobs were easy tasks, especially as the house was occupied while the jobs were in progress.
‘We decided to live in the house while it underwent renovation, which, at times, was very difficult with young children,’ Faye recalls. ‘We would hop from room to room, sleeping and living in whichever one wasn’t undergoing work, until the bulk of the jobs were finished. It took over a year.’
More about my home…
My top tip If you can, set aside more money than you think you’ll need for a project. There are almost always hidden and unaccounted-for costs.
For style inspiration I spend hours scrolling through images on Pinterest and frequently flick through interiors magazines.
Next on my to do list Jessica’s bedroom. We’re going to change the carpet in there, remove the wallpaper and add some shutters.
Despite being short on renovating experience, Faye and Dean both have great eyes for interior design and knew exactly how they wanted their home to look. Dark, mahogany units were ripped out of the kitchen and replaced with neutral cupboards with clean lines.
In the dining area, which had previously been the conservatory, a skylight was fitted to bring more light into the space. ‘There was wallpaper on every single wall. We removed all of it and had the walls replastered. We also had the Artex ceilings throughout the entire house skimmed to give every room a smooth, sleek finish,’ says Faye.
In complete contrast to the way the property had previously been decorated, Faye has favoured a pared-back palette. With the exception being the dark blue master bedroom, she has opted for shades of white, cream and grey on the walls with flecks of colour emerging from the small furnishings and accessories.
The furniture is unfussy with clean lines and understated designs, though there is a real mix of classic and contemporary homewares throughout.
‘My furnishings come from all over. I love shopping in high-street stores, such as TK Maxx, H&M Home and Sainsbury’s Home,’ says Faye.
‘Some of my favourite pieces have come from small, independent brands I discovered on Instagram, including Chelsea Prints London and Scandinavian Pantry. There are also plenty of items that we purchased in Dubai and brought back with us because they hold sentimental value.’
With the work now finished and her first renovation under her belt, Faye feels a huge sense of relief and achievement. She has slowly shaped their first family home in Britain and has documented the journey on her Instagram, @fayes_homestyle.
Of course, no house is ever really ‘finished’ and Faye will soon find herself decorating once again – her daughter Jessica’s bedroom is due for a refresh. But for now, post-renovation, she feels pretty confident about taking on projects of this scale.
‘Renovating our house taught me so many things (including that everything costs more than you think it will!),’ she says. ‘I learnt a lot by being involved in all the stages and pouring over design decisions, so I’ll have expert knowledge for the next project!’