Home makeover: ‘I wanted our first home to be a serene space’

Yooni Cho has recreated the atmosphere of her beloved Stockholm in Kent with earthy tones, natural materials and a lot of creativity

Scandi style makeover

When Yooni Cho and her then fiancé, Khai, found their first family home, a new-build in Kent, they were looking for a retreat away from the noise of London.

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‘I’m originally from Sweden,’ says Yooni, ‘and, although I’ve spent most of my life in Stockholm, another vibrant city, I’m used to a much calmer and more nature-based way of life than I found in London. I really missed that about home when I moved here.’

The Gordon Keramik table from Cattelan Italia was a statement buy for Yooni: ‘it’s something we’re going to have for the long-term, so I wanted to buy good quality.’ She’s styled it with budget dinnerware and vases from H&M Home
The Gordon Keramik table from Cattelan Italia was a statement buy for Yooni: ‘it’s something we’re going to have for the long-term, so I wanted to buy good quality.’ She’s styled it with budget dinnerware and vases from H&M Home

So, when the couple were visiting wedding venues just outside of the capital, they threw house-hunting into the mix, too. Even though they ended up getting married in a French château (whose vintage, country feel heavily influenced Yooni’s colour palette in their new home as well), they fell in love with the Ebbsfleet Garden City area of Kent.

Welcome to our home…

We are Yooni, 27, a cancer research clinical trial manager, my husband, Khai, a banker, our one-year-old son, Leo, and Tofu and Sesame, our cream British Shorthair cats.

Our home is A four-bedroom, detached new-build from David Wilson Homes – the Cadleigh style – built in 2019 and located in Ebbsfleet Garden City, Kent.

Yooni

‘We actually booked the wedding venue on the same day we viewed David Wilson’s Layton show home,’ says Yooni. ‘The sales rep told us they had another option, which had the same open layout with an added sunroom. We were sold and just thought, let’s go for it!’

Yooni has kept the kitchen fresh with marble tiles from Victorian Plumbing, artworks from Swedish print shop Kunskapstavlan, and a homemade wreath to add natural texture
Yooni has kept the kitchen fresh with marble tiles from Victorian Plumbing, artworks from Swedish print shop Kunskapstavlan, and a homemade wreath to add natural texture

Yooni was after a blank canvas that wouldn’t need costly structural work before they could move in, ‘plus it’s only a 12-minute train journey to St Pancras, and it’s very family-orientated here,’ she says.

Yooni had the latte-inspired paint mixed to add warmth to the neutral scheme of the sunroom, which was the clincher for the couple when buying this property
Yooni had the latte-inspired paint mixed to add warmth to the neutral scheme of the sunroom, which was the clincher for the couple when buying this property

Now the couple have a one-year-old boy, Leo, it fits their lifestyle perfectly. That was two years ago, and, perhaps unsurprisingly with a small child in the picture, Yooni and Khai are only just completing the majority of the decorating, which they’ve done themselves.

A bit more about our home…

My best bargain was Turning the IKEA Ivar cabinets and Ivar shelving rattan doors into a sideboard. I found the high street price for a rattan sideboard extortionate, so decided to make my own.

I saved space by Combining some room’s main functions. For instance, our sunroom is also a playroom, and my walk-in wardrobe also houses my home office.

Yooni

‘Our son’s nursery was our first ever DIY project together! I must admit it was quite frightening at first as neither of us are typical DIYers,’ she says. ‘We started by choosing a gender-neutral colour as we didn’t know whether it was a boy or a girl at the time. I always had in mind that if it was a boy, I would style the room with cooler shades like the mint green canopy, teal garlands and navy-coloured artworks.’

Yooni’s pretty handmade flower cloud is suspended from the ceiling using stick-on hooks. She’s kept the styling on her sideboard – a hacked IKEA Ivar cabinet – minimal and chosen Designers Guild Parchment wallpaper in Silver to showcase it
Yooni’s pretty handmade flower cloud is suspended from the ceiling using stick-on hooks. She’s kept the styling on her sideboard – a hacked IKEA Ivar cabinet – minimal and chosen Designers Guild Parchment wallpaper in Silver to showcase it

Yooni recommends taking your time with your home styling. ‘You’ve got to get to know how you’re going to live in a space before you do too much to it. It made sense to get all our big pieces of furniture in first and work around them.’

Keep a multi-purpose room light with glass panels on built-in wardrobes, like Yooni has in her office and dressing room. She painted the coral design artwork; find her pieces on Instagram @yooniartgallery
Keep a multi-purpose room light with glass panels on built-in wardrobes, like Yooni has in her office and dressing room. She painted the coral design artwork; find her pieces on Instagram @yooniartgallery

Yooni made mood boards based around key items for each room and went from there, referencing her favourite homes on Instagram for inspiration, and sharing her own ideas @houseofyooni. ‘I love snooping around other people’s homes,’ she laughs. ‘There are so many talented and creative homeowners out there and I especially love looking at Scandinavian properties.’

Contrasting greys and neutrals with black and gold accents creates a plush feel in the main bedroom. Dulux’s Light Rain and layered putty and cream textiles create a sophisticated hotel vibe
Contrasting greys and neutrals with black and gold accents creates a plush feel in the main bedroom. Dulux’s Light Rain and layered putty and cream textiles create a sophisticated hotel vibe

It’s no surprise that Yooni is all about Scandi style, with a penchant for earthy, natural tones and simple yet practical design solutions. In most of the rooms, she has added natural features such as dried flowers and wooden elements to create ‘a serene atmosphere, like the feeling you get when you walk down a country road during long summer nights,’ she says.

Black side tables from Swoon and walls in Slate limewash paint by Bauwerk create a dramatic scheme, which Yooni styled with artificial cherry blossom to soften the look
Black side tables from Swoon and walls in Slate limewash paint by Bauwerk create a dramatic scheme, which Yooni styled with artificial cherry blossom to soften the look

Among the Swedish elements, such as the crystal decanters and candle holders she was given by her mum and grandma, much of Yooni’s own artwork is on the walls as well.

‘I’ve always been into the arts, and in Sweden all of our studies at school encourage us to be very creative – maybe that’s why good design is so prominent in Nordic countries,’ says Yooni, who started painting when she was pregnant and now takes commissions, mostly through her large Instagram following.

Yooni has made clever use of this wall on the landing with black slimline shelves from B&M, home to her cherished photos that she can add to and change over time
Yooni has made clever use of this wall on the landing with black open shelves from B&M, home to her cherished photos that she can add to and change over time

Yooni also loves flower arranging and her beautiful pampas flower sculptures make striking additions to prominent walls.

‘Usually, you see more sculptural pieces like this at weddings and big events,’ says Yooni, ‘but I knew I really wanted that kind of look in our home. They create soft yet eye-catching ornaments and I love how unusual it is to just have one flower cloud over a sideboard like this.’

Add character to a new-build with lines and shapes, as Yooni has by hanging a horizontal shelf across vertical panelling painted in textured Noce paint from Kalklitir
Add character to a new-build with lines and shapes, as Yooni has by hanging a horizontal shelf across vertical panelling painted in textured Noce paint from Kalklitir

The wreath in the kitchen is one of Yooni’s designs too, based on a recycled rose garland bought for the couple’s wedding décor. ‘I like the dainty vibe without using feminine tones in the house – I don’t want it to be too girly-looking,’ she explains.

Yooni elevated her simple bathroom with a panelled wall, created from wooden slats painted with Rust- Oleum furniture paint in Graphite
Yooni elevated her simple bathroom with a panelled wall, created from wooden slats painted with Rust- Oleum furniture paint in Graphite

Wall panelling has also added more character. Yooni put up square formation panels on the nursery and bedroom walls and added a whole section of wooden battens in the office, painted with lime wash for added texture and warmth.

‘It made the panelling look more vintage, which added even more personality to the feature walls,’ says Yooni. ‘The same goes for the wallpapers – I chose the weathered brush stroke look as I wanted a touch of vintage as well as a modern feel to this house.’

Yooni and Khai wanted a gender-neutral space for Leo and any future siblings, so painted the walls in Valspar’s Rabbit’s Foot to complement the Scandi-look inspired by the kids’ section of Danish concept store, Ferm Living
Yooni and Khai wanted a gender-neutral space for Leo and any future siblings, so painted the walls in Valspar’s Rabbit’s Foot to complement the Scandi-look inspired by the kids’ section of Danish concept store, Ferm Living

Yooni admits that there’s one last room to decorate, for now the proverbial dumping ground all young families need. However, the work she’s done so far all comes together to create a smart, cohesive sanctuary – quite a feat with a baby in residence!

Feature Lara Watson. Photos Fiona Murray. 

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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?