Home tour: Bringing back the former glory of an Edinburgh home

I first came across Siobhan’s home mid-renovation. I think I had searched for a paint colour and up came one of her rooms and I fell in love with the bare bones of her home that she featured on her Instagram @home__stead. As time went on and she and her husband finished off room after room I loved every single detail that they added and it became a huge source of inspiration for me (she was the first person I asked for advice when choosing a white for my bedroom!). Siobhan’s use of whites and neutrals is so skilful and enables her to create the perfect warm and welcoming backdrop for her beautiful antique finds and characterful furniture and unexpected additions like the Willow Boughs wallpaper and Bancha Green provide the perfect contrast. Siobhan has very kindly sent over some of her gorgeous Instagram shots and is going to tell us a little more about her home and how she has made it so beautiful. I hope you love it as much as I do.

How long have you lived in your home and what made you decide to buy it?

We bought & moved into this house in July 2017. Location was the number one attraction when buying this property. After relocating to Edinburgh from Ireland almost 9 years ago for work we have always lived in the west side of the city. We have lots of amenities on our doorstep, good schools, shops, cafes, etc. & we are only a 20 minute walk from the city centre. Also close to airport (Rory travelled a lot for work at the time so that was important). The size was also perfect for us. We were a family of 3 when we moved in & had started to outgrow our 2 bed apartment. We needed more space. House prices in the area are expensive so if we wanted to stay nearby we had to take on a property that needed a lot of work which we could undertake ourselves. This house was perfect for us (& nobody else wanted it!! It was THAT bad!!). 

What was your vision for your home and how much work did you do yourselves?

Prior to the moving day we started working alongside a kitchen designer at Howdens to come up with a layout to best suit the space. We knew the first thing we wanted to do was to take down the wall between the two rooms to create one big open plan family kitchen/diner. Once this was done we could visualise how the space was going to come together! It is a north facing room & because of its function it was important to us that it didn’t feel cold or dark. Taking down the wall helped us to achieve this as best we could.  Bringing things back to their former glory is important to us. We have reinstating the vestibule, mantlepiece in the bedrooms, Edinburgh presses, etc. We also painstakingly stripped & sanded the staircase back to bare wood.  We undertook all of the work ourselves except for plumbing, electrical work & plastering. 

What colours have you used in your home and why did you choose them?

I love colour but I prefer a neutral back drop to spaces we use on a daily basis. Our colour pallet consists of mostly green based neutrals, these give a feeling of calm & cleanliness (Wimborne White, Slipper Satin, School House White, Shadow White, Shaded White & Hardwick White – Farrow & Ball). It isn’t a big house so I wanted to keep the pallet simple & introduce colour in accessories ie painted furniture & soft furnishing. I have accented with blues, greens, pinks, mustard & rust. I  have used some statement colours in small spaces like the Studio Green partition in the vestibule. Inchyra Blue under the stairs & Bancha in the utility room. 

How do you add character and personality to your home whilst using lots of neutrals and whites?

We retained lots of character in the ornate cornice, the picture rail & the architrave. We also have sash & case windows, an Edinburgh press in most rooms, a wooden staircase & the beautiful glass cupula on the landing. We also uncovered the original fireplace & tiled hearth & the original Edwardian floor tiles in the vestibule. I have always loved the William Morris wallpaper ‘Willow Boughts’ & decided to use it in the vestibule where it can be appreciate by everyone who comes to our door. I love anything old! Be it an enamel bowl or a great big chesterfield. I quite like to mix old & new. I like using free standing furniture & I am always on the look out for the perfect piece. I enjoy moving furniture around the house & painting it in a muted tone to give it a new lease of life. 

What items do you prioritise spending money on when decorating a home and where do you think you can scrimp?

We spent a lot of money in the beginning having the whole house rewired & then a few walls skimmed. We also spent a lot on salvaged cast iron radiators (purely for aesthetically reasons but we are so glad we splurged on them in the beginning). We had a wood burning stove fitted. This was life changing during the cold winter months. We actually scrimped on flooring. We exposed the original pine floorboards, sanded them back & treated them with a product called Treatex to take the yellow tones out & used a hard wax oil on top for durability. & sanded them back & waxed them using a product called Treatex. We painted a runner in the stairs using Farrow & Ball a Modern Eggshell in a Hardwick White. 

What or who influences your style?

I would describe my style as an eclectic mix of old & new. I am greatly influenced by Scandinavian design. I love classic Scandinavian furniture with elements of old furniture. 

What’s your next project in your home?

The next room we are going to tackle is the wet room that we plan on building into a space gained from the hallway/kitchen. I am very excited about this as we will be designing from scratch again. It will be a small space with no natural light, however I will opt for keeping it an off white to create a clean & calm space. 

Thank you so much, Siobhan! Do pop over to Siobhan’s Instagram @home__stead for more info on the paint colours in each room (check out her highlights).

Katy x

Rug wish list

If you’re anything like me after spending a considerable (an understatement!) amount of time at home and staring at different corners of my home day in day out, I have been making a very long mental list of things we need to finish off each room. Some things are more complex than others – I’m still longing to wallpaper the living room – but there are other more simple things that have the potential to finish off a room with relatively little effort. A good rug has the power to instantly transform a room and we definitely need one in the spare room where both Jules and I now take shifts to work. I’m always making a mental note of homewares that I see and like (I usually have a million tabs open) so here is my current mental list of potential rug options. If you are also looking for a rug but not keen on any of these click through to the different shops that I’ve linked to as you may find one there that you do like – sometimes just being led to where to buy something can be helpful.

1. Majesty Rug 2. Kaen Rug (on sale) 3. Boujad Rug 4. Zeeburg Rug (on sale)

I just love all these pinky patterned rugs. The Boujad rug from Yonder is my favourite but the Kaen is a great less expensive option.

5. Jute Kelim 6. Lua White 7. Sand Circle Rug (reduced to clear) 8. Kagu Wool Rug

I really love these neutral rugs as they all have lots of interesting texture and patterns, which lifts them above a flat plain rug. The Jute Kelim would be perfect for our spare room and it’s a less expensive option than the hugely expensive Soho Home rug that I love. If anyone doesn’t live with a massively dirty dog then snap up that beautiful Sand Circle rug as it’s reduced to clear.

9. Lucens Rug 10. Vercelli Rug 11. Merge Rug 12. Modern Teal rug

I’ve been looking at these blue based rugs as an option as they would tie in with the Inchyra Blue in our hallway. I really love the Lucens rug, which is viscose and almost shines in the light – I’ve seen it in person and it’s really rather beautiful even though shiny things aren’t usually my thing. The pink version is delicious and definitely a good way of adding an interesting texture to an otherwise quite ‘flat’ room.

Anyone else making mental lists of the things they would like to add/change/takeaway at home? I made a pledge at the beginning of the year not to buy anything for the inside of the house as we are focusing on the outside but I’m a little worried lockdown may weaken my resolve 😉

Katy x

Garden makeover plans

AD – This post is written in collaboration with HIPPOWASTE.

I’m very happy to say that the concrete in the garden has now gone! Hooray! It feels like a massive weight has been lifted, both figuratively and literally. If you missed my last post pop over and take a look at what our garden looked like a few weeks ago. Since then our contractor J A Whitney Building Contractors was able to organise for one of his team to tirelessly wheelbarrow all of the concrete and rubble out of the garden in just two days. Our HIPPOWASTE MEGABAGs were ready and waiting to be filled to the brim with 1.5 tonnes of concrete. HIPPOBAGs are a brilliant way to dispose of all sorts of waste and it was staggering to see a bag that arrived in a tiny package in the post being filled with such heavy rubble! It was very satisfying watching them being craned away, I can tell you. We have a side access as our house is semi-detached so we put the MEGABAGs there as they need to be no more than 4m from the street for collection purposes. However, you can put them in your front garden or drive as they only measure 180x90cm. If you have no outdoor space at the front of your property you can get a permit from your local council to have them on the street, like you would with a skip. If you have bigger sized pieces of waste there is also a HIPPOSKIP available, which is a larger bag that can fit the equivalent of a two large armchairs, two cookers, a washing machine and a tumble dryer with plenty of room to spare. Do take a look at the options here.

We had three MEGABAGs from HIPPOWASTE to dispose of the concrete that was dug up from our garden.
It was quite a mammoth job once the concrete was dug up to wheelbarrow it all out of the garden into the bags.

One of the other main benefits of the bags for us was that you have six months before the collection cut off date. Mario, who removed the concrete for us, works as part of a team on contracts during the week and came to us at the weekends so a two day job actually stretched over a couple of weeks so the flexibility of HIPPOBAGs worked really well. Being able to fill them over time is a definite plus when doing DIY as we never seem to get stuff done all in one go! I would also consider them for big clear outs for that reason (I’m thinking of our loft) as that type of project can take forever if you’re fitting it around work or whatever else.

The bags are incredibly strong and arrive in a very small flat pack package in the post.

Anyhoo, once the bags were filled a collection was arranged within a couple of days. The truck arrived and we didn’t even need to be at home as they just get craned straight on to the truck – no contact, no hassle. I would highly recommend the service!

Now that the concrete is gone we can get to work on making the garden as useable and child friendly for the summer as possible. Little did we know when we decided to start this project just how important the garden was going to be this year as we are all facing a summer in our homes so I feel incredibly grateful that we have this space and the ability to improve it. We won’t be spending a huge amount of time or resources on the planting side of things at this point as that may prove too difficult under lockdown. We will try and get a few bursts of colour planted for this summer at least but I reckon the focus on design and planting will be for next year.

In the meantime, we’re very much focused on covering where the concrete was with the best surface for us and the way we live in the house. I was very much in favour of a budget friendly option such as pea shingle as I love the way it looks but Jules was very against that idea as he doesn’t like the way it feels underfoot and he doesn’t want to step down from the house. He really wants a deck, which is a good idea as it can be raised and extend straight out of the living room and kitchen, which would effectively give us more living space as we would make it 3.6m deep. This would be a great surface for Mimi to play on and give us extra dining and living space. However, lots of you have told me that your decks have rotted or become slippery and slimey. Therefore, we have chosen smooth deck boards as its the grooves that collect water and dirt and we have a pressure washer to keep them clean. We intend to build an extension where the deck will be in the next few years so it won’t be there for years and years so we hope to avoid the issues that some of you helpfully raised. I would say this definitely isn’t the cheapest option but we’re doing it all ourselves so it’s just the materials we have to pay for and we feel like we’re going to get a return on what we spend based on the amount we’ll use it just this summer alone! It’s basically going to cost us what a budget week away would have done.

The whole back of the house opens up on to the garden so a raised deck of smooth boards running in the same directions as our floorboards should help to extend our living area and make the inside of our house feel bigger.

On the left hand side of the garden we will plant grass seed to cover where the concrete was but the whole garden will need re-turfing next year because it’s so uneven and bumpy. I want to replace all of the green along the right hand side of the fence as well as introducing lots of lovely planting. At the end of the garden Jules has grand plans for a workshop so we won’t be touching that space at all. We put up a half pergola to support the Clematis and Wisteria that belongs to our neighbour as it used to just hang down on the ground or rest on the old shed. We have strung heavy duty wire up from the pergola to the fence posts so hopefully that will be enough to train what flops over. I’m also thinking of planting my potted wisteria into the ground and training it up the pergola.

The Clematis and Wisteria as well as a fox or two had badly damaged the fences here so we have replaced those and put up a half pergola to support them this year. We hope that it will be enough to take the weight of the plants as we couldn’t afford a full pergola as they cost a fortune!
You can see here in the top right corner the new fence panels and pergola with heavy duty wire and we have begun to train the Clematis and Wisteria on to it. We won’t have quite as much of the Wisteria on our side of the fence this year as we replaced the panels with no trellis at the top so a lot of it is back on our neighbour’s side but fingers crossed it will be ok.

We’ve already repositioned the fence and put in a new gate to the side access, which makes the garden and back of the house look and feel so much bigger. You have all assured me that these BRIGHT orange dipped fence panels are going to be the same colour as the gate in no time!!

Jules dug out the old fence posts and re positioned them so the fence no longer angles into our garden but goes in a straight line down to the side access. We therefore gain some space, which is great. You can see how it used to look in the picture at the start of this post.

We can’t wait to get started on the deck now so we don’t have to clamber over rubble for much longer. Watch this space!

Katy x

What colour do I paint my internal doors?

My new work shift is 6.30-9am before I take over childcare for the day and I’m finding it very difficult to focus this morning and just not sure what to write about. For lack of inspiration I’m bringing you the second part of the blog post about what we did to our internal doors. If you missed it the first part of the blog post is here. Today I want to cover how I decided whether to paint the doors or leave them bare and how you paint doors different colours on each side.

This is what our doors looked after being returned from the door strippers.

To paint or not to paint

To make the decision you need to ask your this question:

  1. Do you love your doors? Are they a feature you want to emphasise?

NO: My advice would be to paint them the same colour as the woodwork and walls in your home. This is the best way to make them ‘disappear’. I did this in my old flat as the doors were a horrible veneered wood and it made such a difference:

I had several very large veneered wooden doors in the hallway in my old flat. it made the space feel crowded, dark and like an institutional corridor.
Five common lighting problems and how to solve them | Hallway lighting | Apartment Apothecary
By painting the doors white the space felt brighter, bigger and the accessories were able to bring a bit of character to the space rather than the doors dominating.

YES: If you do love your doors and want to make them a real feature then I would advise either leaving them bare wood or painting them a different colour to the walls. That is what we have done in our current home and it has worked so well. Originally I had planned to paint all of the doors but when they came back from being stripped (see more about the stripping process here) I was able to see the texture and the tone of the wood for the first time and I fell in love with them so I changed my mind and decided a mix of painted and bare doors would work well.

Where to go bare

I chose to leave our bathroom door bare wood because I knew the room would be very white and have a tiled floor so it would be lacking texture and warmth. A bare wooden door with this type of decor is perfect. If you have a room that needs more of a balance in terms of texture and warmth, the door is a good place to start. We also have bare doors in our hallway (on the hallway side only). The hallway is painted in a very dark colour below the dado rail and there are three doors going off a very small space that doesn’t get much light so I decided that to paint the doors as well in Inchyra Blue may have been overwhelming and made the space feel dark and closed in. So think about the colour, how much light and the number of doors in one space you have when deciding if it’s right to paint. In many cases leaving the doors bare can be a good way to break up colour or lighten a space.

Choosing a colour:

Once you’ve decided it’s right to paint a door you need to consider a few different things when selecting colours.

  • what is the overall palette of colours in the house? Do you want to tone in or make a bold statement?
  • how many doors are there in the room? If you have lots of doors (like in my old hallway) be very aware that painting all of them in a contrasting colour will be very ‘noisy’.
  • if you choose to paint the door different colours on each side what will the exterior colour look like when it is opened up into the room? You need to consider whether you are happy with how the ‘exterior’ colours look with the ‘interior’ room they open on to.
  • are there wardrobe/cupboard doors in the room? If you have fitted wardrobes, for example, think about whether you want to paint these the same colour as the door to help unify the room.

In my house, I chose to use Inchyra Blue, which is a very dark colour, in the hallway below the dado rail as well as on all of the doors on the landing side upstairs. I wanted the hallway to be quite dark so that opening up onto all of the bright rooms would be that bit more impactful. Therefore, I didn’t want to use Inchyra Blue on the room side of the doors as I wanted to use much lighter colours so I chose to use different colours on each side of the doors: Light Blue on the living room and kitchen doors as well as in Mimi’s room, Brilliant White in my room (due to change at some point, I think) and Shaded White in the spare room. In each room I was happy that Inchyra Blue toned in well with the ‘interior’ colours as we have our doors open a lot. By painting the doors the same colour as all of the woodwork they have become a feature and added a dose of colour in just the right amount.

I really like the way Light Blue and Inchyra Blue work together so I was very happy to combine these two colours on the different sides of the doors. Photograph by Katharine Peachey.
I really like the addition of Inchyra Blue in this room when the door is open (the interior is painted Light Blue).

How to paint the door frame if the door is different colours on each side

A question I have been asked a lot is at what point do you stop painting with one colour and start using the second colour if you choose two different colours for your door. There really is no right or wrong here but the convention is pretty tricky to explain so bear with me!

This door is painted Inchyra Blue on the landing side and Light Blue on the bedroom side. The lock edge of the door is Light Blue.
But the hinge edge of the door is Inchyra Blue.

The theory is that from the landing if the door is open you see as little of Light Blue as possible because the hinge edge is Inchyra Blue and that’s what you see when the door opens. From the bedroom side if the door is slightly open you see as much Light Blue as possible and as little Inchyra Blue as possible as the lock edge is Light Blue. Does that make any sense?? It’s such a tough thing to explain. There is a diagram in this post about How to paint a statement door that may help a bit more.

I hope some of these thoughts help if you are debating what to do with your doors. I also hope that everyone is managing to stay well.

Katy x

A garden makeover: The ‘before’ photos

I have to admit that I’m cringing a bit showing you some of these photos. We had to take the decision when working out our renovation budget what we would have to do at a later point as we definitely didn’t have enough to do everything at once. It became clear very quickly that all work on the outside of the house would have to wait. It’s very easy to buy a house and underestimate how much new fencing, gates, landscaping, exterior painting will cost. As it turns out we have to break it up into stages and prioritise. For security the first thing we agreed to do was replace the side access gate that we share with our neighbour. We then had a very serious discussion about getting the outside of the house painted next but when we really thought about it the biggest gain to us and the way we live would be to use the garden more. In order to do that the massive slab of concrete that wraps round the back of the house has to go. However, we’ve always been put off by the cost of a skip needed for that type of job as well as the labour cost as we just don’t think we’d manage it ourselves; it’s literally tonnes of concrete. Because concrete is so heavy you can’t fill a skip to the brim with it so we would probably need more than one and because it’s one of those weird jobs that sort of sits between a landscaper and a builder it’s hard to find somebody to take it on, especially because it’s not a very lucrative job and will only take two or three days. Therefore, the likelihood would be that the skip would be needed for quite some time whilst the labourer went off to other jobs etc. The longer you have a skip, the more is costs.

Serendipitously it was at this point that HIPPOBAGs got in touch for a potential collaboration. I thought I was familiar with their service and had in my mind that it was a very large, tough bag that could be used for a house/loft clear out or that sort of thing. However, little did I know that HIPPO offer the perfect waste bags for our concrete issue. The MEGABAG can hold 1.5 tonnes of the heaviest waste like concrete, rubble, soil and it can be filled to the brim. Not only that but it is only 180x90cm so it can easily fit in a front garden so no need for an expensive license to put it on the street AND you can fill it at your own pace over six months, which makes it perfect for us as we found someone to do the job who can only work on Saturdays.

At this time it is very worth saying that the bags come in the post so no contact is needed to receive them and you don’t have to meet the driver when they collect the bags so it is a contact free process overall. If you are planning a garden project, any DIY or a clear out during the next few weeks HIPPOBAGs is a very good option to avoid leaving your home.

I will tell you more and show you more about the MEGABAGs when they arrive but for now I want to show you how our garden looked when we moved in and the state of it now. Arguably it looks worse now but we have actually done quite a lot – it’s got to look worse before it looks better, right?

This was the photo I took of the garden when I viewed the house in December. It’s about 60ft long and we back on to a park so it has the potential to be really lovely.
This was the garden in the Spring before the renovation had begun.
The brambles and bushes on this right fence were literally pulling it down.
And then it became a jungle in the summer mid-renovation.
And then when we moved in in October it looked like this.
The whole back of the house opens out onto the garden, which I love. There is a door from the dining space and the kitchen and we very quickly realised that the crumbling concrete steps and ‘patio’ was not only unpleasant to look at but it’s such a horrible surface for kids to play on and especially bad when they fall on it.
The other problem was the shed was not only crumbling but it cut the garden in two.
So we dismantled the shed last Spring.
Removing the shed was a really good move as it made the garden feel so much bigger. We tidied everything up and cut out a lot of the brambles on the right hand fence and managed to spend a lot of nice time out here last summer. Look at that Wisteria that comes over our fence from our neighbour and the Laburnum tree!
As of today, things look like this! Eeeek. It’s a real mess.
There are huge cracks in the concrete making it so un-child friendly. Let’s ignore the brown pebbledash. Painting the house white is next on the list!
You can see what a dreadful state the concrete is in from this angle.

Watch this space to track our progress. I will tell you more in my next garden blog post about what we are planning to do. I’d love to hear what you would do with this space!

Katy x

*This post was written in paid collaboration with HIPPOBAGs – I greatly appreciate the continued support of brands and I really hope this is a useful collaboration for my readers during this difficult time.