Real home: ‘Our house is homely with a twist’

In just 18 months, Hayley Southwood and husband Paul have given their property’s dated interior a new lease of life

The blue velvet sofa from Dunelm provides a striking
contrast to the pink scheme, while the velvet Julianne 
bench from Made.com is a quirky alternative to a coffee table

In just 18 months, Hayley Southwood and husband Paul have given their property’s dated interior a new lease of life. Here, Hayley shares her home makeover story…

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Overhead lighting from House Doctor at Amara provides a touch of glam at mealtimes, while the Viscose blue rug from Benuta and Shaneen Rosewarne Cox wall art adds a homely touch
Overhead lighting from House Doctor at Amara provides a touch of glam at mealtimes, while the Viscose blue rug from Benuta and Shaneen Rosewarne Cox wall art adds a homely touch

My story

‘When we first viewed this house, we instantly said no. It felt like it needed an overwhelming amount of work and we were worried we didn’t have the budget to make the changes.

A pair of Rupert three-seater sofas from Dunelm adds a sumptuous feel to the living room, with plenty of space for guests to sit. A Gooch rug and marble coffee table adds to the decadent feel, with walls painted in Double Empire Grey by Zoffany providing a glamorous backdrop for the cocktail hour vibe
A pair of Rupert three-seater sofas from Dunelm adds a sumptuous feel to the living room, with plenty of space for guests to sit. A Gooch rug and marble coffee table adds to the decadent feel, with walls painted in Double Empire Grey by Zoffany providing a glamorous backdrop for the cocktail hour vibe

‘The garden is over an acre, but it was waist-high with weeds and felt so daunting. The kitchen was very dated and the bathroom was from the 1980s.

Welcome to my home 

A bit about me I’m Hayley Southwood and I run a business networking and online interiors hub, Southwood Living. 

I live with my husband Paul and our two sons, Callum, 22, Jake, 20, and our family dog, Sid.  

Where I live Our home is part of a converted stables dating from 1915 in a village outside Milton Keynes.

Hayley

‘We were worried we’d be taking on too much as it was a big project. But I was also paying for office space for my business at the time and when we went away and did the sums, we realised that this move would allow me to run my business from home, which made it possible financially.

The design of Hayley’s en suite centres on her pink Kast basin, with its clean lines and Scandi-inspired design
The design of Hayley’s en suite centres on her pink Kast basin, with its clean lines and Scandi-inspired design

‘So, we returned to the house and put our highest offer in, which was – despite being less than the asking price – thankfully accepted. From then on, it was a whirl of hands-on renovating.

This room has been complete transformed. ‘It was a dark games room when we first moved in,’ says Hayley. ‘We ripped everything out and painted it in Setting Plaster by Farrow & Ball. Now it feels serene and calm’
This room has been complete transformed. ‘It was a dark games room when we first moved in,’ says Hayley. ‘We ripped everything out and painted it in Setting Plaster by Farrow & Ball. Now it feels serene and calm’

‘Using Pinterest, we planned the rooms and worked out what we needed. Luckily, Paul is very handy, so we could do a lot of it ourselves, including painting, plastering and tiling.

‘Doing it on such a tight budget has been an amazing learning curve. We’ve managed to redecorate room by room and have created a beautiful, calm space that works for our grown-up family and my work needs.

Hayley’s entranceway sets the tone for the house. With its simple bench and mirror, it feels calm and welcoming
Hayley’s entranceway sets the tone for the house. With its simple bench and mirror, it feels calm and welcoming

‘We’ve only been here 18 months and I’m definitely still in the honeymoon period. I love every room, but all for very different reasons. Essentially, I love the potential this house has given us as a family and as a business.’

A bit more about my home 

What I wanted to change The house has a few original features that I knew we could accentuate. I wanted to make the house feel homely with a fresh, modern twist.

How I made it my own We pulled up carpets, exposed original parquet and just painted everywhere. 

My favourite part The kitchen. We couldn’t afford new cabinetry, so we repainted the cupboards and replaced handles and tiles. 

Hayley

Snug

‘Before we moved in, I knew I wanted to use the snug as the TV room, and I was desperate to create a separate lounge that felt special. I also wanted a grown-up room where we could sit, chat and relax, with lots of favourite books and pretty things around us. This room was quite tricky to paint as it has original brickwork, parquet flooring and low-beamed ceilings.

The blue velvet sofa from Dunelm provides a striking contrast to the pink scheme, while the velvet Julianne bench from Made.com is a quirky alternative to a coffee table
The blue velvet sofa from Dunelm provides a striking contrast to the pink scheme, while the velvet Julianne bench from Made.com is a quirky alternative to a coffee table

‘Originally, I went for an emerald green in here and it was a huge mistake! It’s now Setting Plaster by Farrow & Ball, which I’ve used before in our previous house. I love how calm it feels.’

Living room

‘This is our ‘grown-up room’. We’ve arranged furniture in the lounge focusing on social interaction rather than the TV. Originally, I was insistent I didn’t want a TV at all in the room, but Paul convinced me to look at the Sony Frame, which looks like a piece of art when it’s not turned on.

‘This room makes me think back to my childhood and the ‘good room’ where my parents used to have a drink before dinner or invite people in when we had guests,’ says Hayley. ‘I love the idea of having a kid-free sacred space where you keep your best for really special occasions’
‘This room makes me think back to my childhood and the ‘good room’ where my parents used to have a drink before dinner or invite people in when we had guests,’ says Hayley. ‘I love the idea of having a kid-free sacred space where you keep your best for really special occasions’

‘This room is lovely in winter when the fire’s going, but it’s a great summer room too, as you can step from here right out into the garden.

‘To me a cocktail cabinet has a real sense of nostalgia,’ says Hayley. ‘There’s something so glamorous about a drink before dinner and I had romanticised the idea for ages,’ says Hayley. ‘Eventually I found this cabinet at a second-hand store for £100. The crystal pieces are on loan from Paul’s mum and dad’
‘To me a cocktail cabinet has a real sense of nostalgia,’ says Hayley. ‘There’s something so glamorous about a drink before dinner and I had romanticised the idea for ages,’ says Hayley. ‘Eventually I found this cabinet at a second-hand store for £100. The crystal pieces are on loan from Paul’s mum and dad’

‘I love how the velvet Dunelm sofas contrast with the walls. The grey cabinet was bought years ago and has been painted so many times – it’s been mustard, grey and white. Now it’s Zoffany Ink, which is the same colour used on all of the interior doors.’

Dining room

‘We wanted the dining room to be a light, bright space where we could share extended family meals. I also use this space for our Southwood Hub communal meet-ups, so the room is a social space that can hold up to 20 people.

‘The vaulted ceiling in the dining room is a really unusual feature, which I love’ says Hayley
‘The vaulted ceiling in the dining room is a really unusual feature, which I love’ says Hayley

‘The wood-burning stove was already here and is a lovely little feature, making the room feel cosy and snug. The artwork over the dining table is by my friend Shaneen Rosewarne Cox who is a fabulous photographer and now sells her work through her website and the overhead lights are real statement pieces by House Doctor.’

‘Doing this on such a tight budget has been an amazing learning curve’ says Hayley
‘Doing this on such a tight budget has been an amazing learning curve’ says Hayley

Bedroom

‘This is our own adult-only sanctuary, a space where Paul and I can hide away from our busy household. It’s a light, bright and modern space, with soft wool carpets and a deep bath in the corner, which makes it feel like we’re on holiday.

With its white walls, feature wall lights and centrepiece bathtub, there’s a boutique hotel feel to Hayley’s master bedroom. ‘I love the adult-only sanctuary we’ve created here,’ says Hayley
With its white walls, feature wall lights and centrepiece bathtub, there’s a boutique hotel feel to Hayley’s master bedroom. ‘I love the adult-only sanctuary we’ve created here,’ says Hayley

‘I can’t live without a good soak with Epsom salts. When we can get away, we love a boutique hotel break so Paul suggested we put a bath in our bedroom. I was a little worried about it, I must admit, but it was one of the best decisions we made.’

Style idea! Take inspiration from favourite hotels and restaurants – the bathtub in Hayley’s master bedroom was inspired by a visit to Soho House
Style idea! Take inspiration from favourite hotels and restaurants – the bathtub in Hayley’s master bedroom was inspired by a visit to Soho House

What I learned… 

You don’t always need to rip out the kitchen in order to create a new look. This is our fifth house and we learned so much more about recycling, reusing and repurposing this time around. Painting the kitchen cupboards gave it a brand new lease of life.

Instead of hiring contractors, learn how to do things yourself to save money. Paul roped his dad in to help with painting rooms and my dad did a lot of the groundwork outside to create better parking. 

Don’t be hasty with colour choices. I went for an emerald green in the snug at first and it was a huge mistake! My father-in-law kindly repainted it, but it was a horrible task and such a waste of time.

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