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.
Before its modern makeover, the TV room had pink carpet and no ceiling light. Faye and Dean fitted walnut flooring and white-washed the walls for a fresh feel. A grey and yellow scheme gives the space a playful appearance
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.
Faye has used colour to good effect on this display shelf in the TV room. Art prints in pared-back hues complement the neutral wall behind them and allow touches of yellow to jump out, while black frames tie the artworks together and match the other pieces on show.
‘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.’
‘We had never renovated before. We had no idea what we were in for’ explains Faye
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.
‘We found the sideboard in a warehouse in Sharjah, Dubai,’ says Faye. ‘We couldn’t bring ourselves to part with it, so we brought it back with us. I painted its dark wood grey so it looks at right home in our TV room.’
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.
‘Trust your gut, it’ll set you on the right path’ 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.
Good idea! If budget and layout will allow, install a skylight to brighten a space naturally.
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.
’Hours of scrolling through interiors on Pinterest confirmed that I wanted Shaker-style units,’ says Faye. She chose a neutral colour scheme to keep the space as bright as possible
‘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.
‘Initially, I wanted to make the kitchen really modern with floor-to-ceiling units across both walls, but that would’ve meant having the sink installed on the island,’ says Faye. ‘The island is the first thing you see when you walk in and I really didn’t want to be greeted by dirty dishes every time I entered the room, so we compromised on the design.’
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.
‘The only feature of the original kitchen I actually liked was the exposed brick on the left-hand wall,’ says Faye. ‘I love how it adds texture to the space.’
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.
‘The master bedroom had wall-to-wall furniture, which made it feel cramped and much smaller than it was,’ says Faye. ‘We removed it all to free up some space, and chose more compact, mirrored furnishings so the room feels less enclosed.’
‘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.
Mirrored furniture reflects light and makes a room appear more spacious.
‘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.’
Unlike the rest of the house, the master bedroom has a dark colour scheme, chosen by Faye to add comfort. Teamed with plush furnishings and fancy artwork, the bedroom could easily pass as a hotel suite
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.
Jessica chose a pastel blue and gold colour scheme for her room, which makes it feel bright and fun with a touch of glam – ideal for a teen
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.
The upstairs bathroom has a spa-like feel, with a free-standing tub. Artwork and trinkets give it a luxurious appearance
‘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!’
This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?