Home makeover: ‘We’ve given our new-build bags of character’

Take a look inside Sam's characterful new build home, filled with vintage finds and salvaged gems

‘The layout of the house sold it to us,’ says Sam. ‘It was still a building site when we first saw it but we instantly got a feel for the flow of the place and the potential it had’

Fashion influencer Sam Thompson made her modern house feel like home by filling it with favourite artwork, salvaged furniture and vintage finds.

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Here, she tells us all about her home makeover story…

My story…

We moved here in 2014 – the same year it was built, and the year I had my daughter, Amelie. I was seven months pregnant with a two-and-a-half-year-old in tow, so I’ll admit, it was a bit stressful.

The sofa is accessorised with cushions from Abigail Ahern and Madam Stoltz
‘We buy reclaimed and second-hand as much as we can and I typically go for plain-painted walls to make furniture pieces and art sing,’ says Sam. The sofa is accessorised with cushions from Abigail Ahern and Madam Stoltz

We’d been living in a different area in London and moved to be closer to good schools for the children. As it was a new-build and we’d bought it off the plans, there was very little to do in terms of structural work or renovations.

Welcome to my home…

A bit about me I’m Sam Thompson, a fashion influencer and one half of @londonstylesisters. I also work in finance. I live here with my husband, Will, and our children, Lexi, nine and Amelie, six. 

Where I live We live in a four-bedroom, new-build end-of-terrace house in north London. We bought it off the plans seven years ago. 

Sam Thompson

Our energy went into creating more storage – something new-builds are appalling at – and bringing personality to what was, effectively, a blank white box.

All of the various changes over the years have been gradual, and with sustainability in mind.

One of Sam’s most loved items in her home is the second-hand Yamaha piano, which is the focal point of this space – and the ideal place to display dried flowers and decorative knick-knacks
One of Sam’s most loved items in her home is the second-hand Yamaha piano, which is the focal point of this space – and the ideal place to display dried flowers and decorative knick-knacks

Our plan was to tackle one room a year, which means that slowly, over seven years, we now have a house we love that works perfectly for all our family.

A bit more about my home…

What I wanted to change Being a new-build house, there was originally little storage. We wanted to create more room for the kids’ stuff and to make sure that the space worked well for us all. It was also pretty much a blank white box, so we wanted to add some personality. 

How I made it my own We turned our downstairs toilet into a utility room and put practical storage into the pantry and under the stairs. We put our own personality into it by adding lots of art, as well as vintage and salvaged furniture. 

My favourite part I love the amount of space we have now. It’s a really well thought-out layout that’s perfect for our family of four. We use all the space available and never feel on top of one another.

Home makeover: 'We've given our new-build bags of character'

So far, we’ve done work in our open-plan living space, the hallway, our den and the bedrooms. The playroom will be our next project – we’re desperate for some sensible storage in there and a functional space for the girls as they grow older and their needs change.

‘My fave feature is the bespoke cupboard that hides the TV. Our amazing carpenter/builder helped us to create this’
‘My fave feature is the bespoke cupboard that hides the TV. Our amazing carpenter/builder helped us to create this’

I’m so glad we tackled these rooms as it’s really helped us make the most of every available bit of space we have.

Living area

‘This part of the house looks like it’s an extension as it feels like you’re in the garden, but it’s part of the original build. I spend most of my time at home in this open-plan room because I love that it leads onto our garden – it’s so calm and peaceful. We made it look less shiny and new by bringing some of the furniture from our old house.

Sam creates beautifully styled spaces using layers of soft and natural textures. The leather chair is from John Lewis & Partners, while the tiered shelf is from Graham & Green
Sam creates beautifully styled spaces using layers of soft and natural textures. The leather chair is from John Lewis & Partners, while the tiered shelf is from Graham & Green

‘Our white sofa from RAFT is 10 years old but still so comfy. The coffee table and TV unit are the only new furniture we bought in fact – they’re both from the eco range at West Elm. I don’t love the fact we have tiles on the floor here – I would much rather have wood – but they were already here when we moved in, and they’re very practical and easy to clean.’

‘Furniture-wise, our best buy has to be this coffee table. It’s a mango wood design from West Elm and was about 80 per cent off so it was a real bargain. It’s the perfect piece for this space’
‘Furniture-wise, our best buy has to be this coffee table. It’s a mango wood design from West Elm and was about 80 per cent off so it was a real bargain. It’s the perfect piece for this space’

Kitchen

Handleless cabinets from Commodore Kitchens give the space a sleek, streamlined look, while overhead gold pendant lights from Lee Broom add a glam finish. To break up the modern kitchen, reclaimed wood shelving was added in the corner, providing a prime place to keep Sam’s colourful collection of crockery and glassware.

‘The kitchen is the heart of the home for us, same as most people. I love this airy, breezy open-plan living space that allows me to be in the kitchen while the kids are playing right next to me in the lounge area,’ says Sam
‘The kitchen is the heart of the home for us, same as most people. I love this airy, breezy open-plan living space that allows me to be in the kitchen while the kids are playing right next to me in the lounge area,’ says Sam

In a further effort to reduce waste, Sam moved the original kitchen cabinets to the pantry to create much-needed extra cupboard space. The stools around the island from Kartell are perfect come the breakfast rush.

Dining area

The dining table is a plain IKEA design decorated with a neutral-coloured tablecloth and fresh flowers, with a set of see-through chairs from Calligaris that add a contemporary twist. Sam went for Brilliant White from Dulux on the walls, perfect for showing off the couple’s art pieces from Castle Gallery, Art Republic and the Affordable Art Fair.

‘While I’ve never regretted anything we’ve done, there are a couple of pieces of furniture I wouldn’t choose now. For example, our dining table was a beautiful modern design. Roll on nine years and two children bashing it, and it looks really tired and scrappy, which is why I keep it covered most of the time,’ reveals Sam
‘While I’ve never regretted anything we’ve done, there are a couple of pieces of furniture I wouldn’t choose now. For example, our dining table was a beautiful modern design. Roll on nine years and two children bashing it, and it looks really tired and scrappy, which is why I keep it covered most of the time,’ reveals Sam

‘Will and I are both big art fans,’ says Sam. ’We’ve bought a piece every time we have a big life event, like our wedding, the births of our children, anniversaries or birthdays. It means every time I look at a piece of art, it reminds me of an important time in our lives.’

Hallway

‘The Midnight Garden wallpaper is a favourite from House of Hackney. The design’s dark background goes well with the black-painted stairs, which we’ve warmed up with a pale pink runner.

‘I adore modern vintage homeware and rugs and love to give a sense of old to the rooms in my house,’ says Sam. The aged-effect wallpaper adds just the right amount of antique chic
‘I adore modern vintage homeware and rugs and love to give a sense of old to the rooms in my house,’ says Sam. The aged-effect wallpaper adds just the right amount of antique chic

‘We’ve tied the look together by painting the walls in Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball. We made use of this dead space under the stairs by putting in some storage – it’s great for keeping shoes and is a handy height for the children.’

Master bedroom

‘This upholstered bed from West Elm was my first big splurge when we moved in, but I don’t regret it at all,’ says Sam. For a touch of colour, Sam has dressed the bed with a quilted ochre throw and a collection of quirky cushions.

‘I think it’s easier to make fewer mistakes when you go for a neutral backdrop,’ shares Sam. ‘I love the deep moody grey of these walls; it really makes the art pop’
‘I think it’s easier to make fewer mistakes when you go for a neutral backdrop,’ shares Sam. ‘I love the deep moody grey of these walls; it really makes the art pop’

‘The calming scheme is completed with walls painted in Mole’s Breath by Farrow & Ball and art from the International Poster Gallery in Boston and Honeymoon Hotel. Sam squirrels herself away to work in this space too, with a white bureau from West Elm and a comfy Oliver Bonas chair providing a cosy WFH spot.

Lexi’s bedroom

Nine-year-old Lexi’s bedroom has been given a touch of grown-up glamour with a gold bed frame and Scandi-style accessories. The MADE.com bed has been given a splash of colour with embroidered bedding from Zara Home and cushions from Missoni.

‘We let Lexi pick her own design in here,’ says Sam. ‘She chose the wall colour and many of the objects on display – I think she’s already a natural at interior styling! We wanted her to feel excited and inspired by her bedroom so it was important to have her involved with the design process’
‘We let Lexi pick her own design in here,’ says Sam. ‘She chose the wall colour and many of the objects on display – I think she’s already a natural at interior styling! We wanted her to feel excited and inspired by her bedroom so it was important to have her involved with the design process’

On the bedside table from Urban Outfitters, Lexi keeps a vintage radio, a selection of books and a letterboard that she can change up. The walls have been painted in Nancy’s Blushes by Farrow & Ball and finished with Wes Anderson-inspired wall art from Etsy. ‘I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan and love the art depicted in his films,’ reveals Sam.

Bathroom

‘I don’t love our bathroom, but I can’t justify ripping it out just yet as it all works fine. Instead, we’ve changed up the look with art and accessories.

Antique and reclaimed furniture is actually much more forgiving with young children over clean, modern, designs,’ admits Sam. ‘The vintage cabinet in here adds real character’
Antique and reclaimed furniture is actually much more forgiving with young children over clean, modern, designs,’ admits Sam. ‘The vintage cabinet in here adds real character’

‘Our vintage cabinet is great for storage and we’ve added interest with pretty glass bottles and black and white prints from Rock Salt Prints and Chelsea Prints, finished with brass frames. I’ve added lots of faux plants from Abigail Ahern for texture and colour.’

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Feature Ciara Elliott. Photos Rachael Smith. 

This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in HomeStyle magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?