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Home makeover: ‘We gave our period home a modern makeover’

Esther has completely transformed her Victorian terrace with contemporary features. Take a look inside...

‘The Swoon dining table is from auction site, John Pye, and I’ve teamed it with chairs from MADE.com and a ceiling pendant from HomeSense. I love the size of this room as there’s 
enough space for my MADE.com sofa, which I’ve dressed up with cushions from H&M Home. 
The alcoves looked cluttered with furniture in them so we got a joiner to make the shelves, 
which we painted in Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball to match the walls’

By restoring original features and decorating in contemporary colours, Esther Pillans has totally transformed her Victorian terrace.

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

My home makeover story

We’d made offers on six different houses and missed out on them all, when this four-bedroom Victorian terrace came up for sale on one of my favourite streets.

It was pitch-black when we viewed the house as the lights weren’t working but I could make out the cornicing, deep skirting boards, good-sized rooms and high ceilings. There was loads of potential, so we made an offer that night.

‘I’ve added monochrome elements to ground the scheme, such as the Swoon side table, HomeSense mirror and cushion from H&M Home. Pink accents, like this HomeSense tassel lamp, are dotted throughout the house’
‘I’ve added monochrome elements to ground the scheme, such as the Swoon side table, HomeSense mirror and cushion from H&M Home. Pink accents, like this HomeSense tassel lamp, are dotted throughout the house’

Looking back, we ended up with the best house. It was definitely meant to be. For the first year we lived with our parents nearby, spending evenings and weekends working on the house.

Welcome to my home…

A bit about me I’m Esther Pillans, 28, an assistant buyer on the home textiles team at Very. I live with my partner, Lewis Jardine, 34, an insurance complaints handler. 

Where I live Our home is a four-bedroom Victorian terraced house in Waterloo, Liverpool. We bought it in March 2018. You can see more of our home on my Instagram @prettylittleterrace.

Modern home makeover

My dad’s a builder and my brother helped out too. They knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, blocked up the original kitchen door and added new French doors.

‘After being told an island wouldn’t fit, we taped one on the floor and released it could work. I like having the sink on the island so I can watch the TV in the dining room when I’m washing-up’
‘After being told an island wouldn’t fit, we taped one on the floor and released it could work. I like having the sink on the island so I can watch the TV in the dining room when I’m washing-up’

A lot of time was spent putting original features back, including ceiling roses and four fireplaces, as well as sanding the floors throughout.

A bit more about my home…

What I wanted to change The dark kitchen and dining room at the back of the house felt pretty gloomy, the bathroom was badly designed and there were no original fireplaces left in the house. 

How I made it my own We’ve restored or reinstated the original features, added panelling, sanded wood floors and went for a co-ordinated colour palette of greens, pinks, gold and marble throughout all of the rooms. 

My favourite part The living room was the first space we properly finished, and I love every single thing in there. 

Modern home makeover

Our last job was replacing the rotting front door with a new period-style design complete with stained-glass panels. In the next two years we might move somewhere with a bigger kitchen and bathroom, but we’ve learned so many new skills to take to the next house.

‘The reclaimed fireplace is definitely my favourite feature in the room. It has beautiful details and took lots of hard work and time to restore it. The chest of drawers is from Swoon’
‘The reclaimed fireplace is definitely my favourite feature in the room. It has beautiful details and took lots of hard work and time to restore it. The chest of drawers is from Swoon

Dining room

‘Before the wall was knocked down and another set of French doors were added, this space hardly got any sun. It’s probably the room that’s seen the biggest transformation. We spent eight weekends stripping the Artex wallpaper in here, before getting the floor sanded and finding a reclaimed fireplace that would work with the original hearth tiles we uncovered.

‘The dining area is much lighter now we have two sets of French doors at the back. The Palm tree print from HomeSense ties in well with my pink and green colour scheme’
‘The dining area is much lighter now we have two sets of French doors at the back. The Palm tree print from HomeSense ties in well with my pink and green colour scheme’

‘I’d been looking for months for a fireplace and was starting to lose hope as most cost over £1,000. Eventually this marble design with the tiled inset came up on eBay for £500 and it was local too. I’ve tried to carry through the pinky-red colour of the hearth tiles into the soft furnishings. Going dark on the walls has made the fireplace really stand out.’

Kitchen

‘With just one small window, the original L-shaped kitchen was really dark. The black floor and worktops made it feel even darker. Two weeks after getting the keys, my dad and brother knocked the wall down to open it up to the dining room and added French doors to bring in more light.

The old back door was in a weird room off the kitchen with a concrete floor, which we’ve turned into a utility and toilet.

‘I fell in love with these floor tiles from Porcelain Superstore. They work so well against the dark kitchen and the marble mosaic wall tiles from Walls and Floors. We got the oven and microwave separately from Very, and it looks so much better having the fridge-freezer hidden behind doors’
‘I fell in love with these floor tiles from Porcelain Superstore. They work so well against the dark kitchen and the marble mosaic wall tiles from Walls and Floors. We got the oven and microwave separately from Very, and it looks so much better having the fridge-freezer hidden behind doors’

‘My starting point was the tiled patterned floor. As we’ve sanded the floors everywhere else, I wanted something a bit different in here. I considered a light grey kitchen at first but had my heart set on white quartz worktops, which would stand out better against darker units. After getting prices from a few showrooms, we decided on DIY Kitchens as they were the cheapest we came across. The joiner was really impressed with the quality too.’

Living room

‘The bold green sofa was the starting point for this room. We went for an olive green on the walls to tone it down a bit, then added pink and monochrome accents. We painted the wall behind the sofa in Strong White by Farrow & Ball so it stands out, with Card Room Green across the chimney breast and alcoves.

‘It took me ages to find the right art for this wall. I finally found this jungle print in HomeSense, which I love. It works really well with the green sofa from MADE.com’
‘It took me ages to find the right art for this wall. I finally found this jungle print in HomeSense, which I love. It works really well with the green sofa from MADE.com

‘I really love the Parisian apartment style with beautiful white marble fireplaces styled with retro furniture, so this was my inspiration for the fireplace from Cast Fireplaces.

‘For privacy, we’ve added frosted- effect window adhesive in the living room. It’s the perfect spot for my pink MADE.com chair, and the monochrome cushion from The Wild Kind London’
‘For privacy, we’ve added frosted-effect window adhesive in the living room. It’s the perfect spot for my pink MADE.com chair, and the monochrome cushion from The Wild Kind London’

‘Normally I keep the base of my rooms quite plain and classic, adding layers of texture and print through accessories. For inspiration I love Rockett St George, Liberty and Anthropologie, but usually I’ll either shop their sales or try and find cheaper alternatives elsewhere.’

Office

‘This room wasn’t really used much until we started working from home during lockdown, so it got a makeover last summer. We put up the panelling ourselves and made a desk from two IKEA cabinets upcycled with cane webbing on the doors.

‘The panelling and desk have both been painted in Farrow & Ball’s Card Room Green for a matching look. We got the chair and rug from HomeSense and the colourful striped pouffe is from The Rug Republic’
‘The panelling and desk have both been painted in Farrow & Ball’s Card Room Green for a matching look. We got the chair and rug from HomeSense and the colourful striped pouffe is from The Rug Republic’

‘A piece of wood was cut to size for the desktop with an extendable breakfast bar leg supporting the middle.’

Master bedroom

‘Before, this room was really rundown with old laminate flooring and zebra-print wallpaper hanging off the walls. After reading Mad About The House, I realised light and open would be better than dark and cosy for me as I have trouble getting up on cold, dark mornings.

‘We chose Strong White by Farrow & Ball for the walls with a dark blue bed from MADE.com to contrast. The side table is from Swoon and the wall lights are from Iconic Lights’
‘We chose Strong White by Farrow & Ball for the walls with a dark blue bed from MADE.com to contrast. The side table is from Swoon and the wall lights are from Iconic Lights’

‘We sanded the floors, added a Victorian pine door and restored a reclaimed fireplace to sit with the original hearth tiles found under the laminate. I used to have yellow accessories, but it wasn’t really me. I’m more suited to muted pastel colours so these were swapped for blush pink pieces. Next, I want to add traditional wood panelling for depth, as it’s quite a plain space at the moment.’

Bathroom

‘The layout in here just didn’t work before. It’s a pretty small room and the bath was under the window with the sink in the far corner. This meant you walked straight into the bath as soon as you opened the door.

‘The biggest expense was probably the marble chevron floor tiles from Mandarin Stone. I didn’t want a bold colour or pattern as I was worried it might date. However, we saved money on the simple Metro wall tiles to balance things out’
‘The biggest expense was probably the marble chevron floor tiles from Mandarin Stone. I didn’t want a bold colour or pattern as I was worried it might date. However, we saved money on the simple Metro wall tiles to balance things out’

‘To solve the problem, we found the smallest bath you can buy and put it on the back wall. The room looks bigger now as you can see more floor space.’

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Feature Karen Wilson. Photos Katie Lee. 

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