Interior Design in our Family Home

We fell in love with this 1930s home the minute we walked through the door.  For me it was the character, the potential to make it into something amazing again, and the long back garden opening out on to a quiet community park was just the icing on the cake.  For Mac, it was the wide entrance hallway, the space around it to extend and all the possibilities that came with that.  His mind was going at 150 mph as soon as we entered!  It's short walk proximity to Verulamium Park and the centre of St. Albans was another added bonus.   We loved it.

Just over two years later, as I write this, we have now been settled in our forever family home for 18 months.   It was very much in need of TLC, having not been touched in decades and the garden at the back was like a wilderness.  It's been a labour of love and I'm happy to share with you some pictures of the home we've created, along with the period features of this home that I was keen to restore - five beautiful bay windows, ceiling roses, fireplace, high ceilings, large rooms.  

If you'd like to see the full write up on our home redesign project, from concept to completion and the all the before pictures and building works in between, take a look at our full gallery here.

Anyway, fast track 6 months from planning permission, and in August 2021 we were moving in to our home.  Here's a few views of the front and back of the house.   

Moving inside...welcome in to our home:-)

Let's start with our entrance hallway.  All doors and windows throughout our home were supplied and fitted by HBD Systems.  The original timber porch frame was restored and the front porch tiles are from Fired Earth.    As you enter the house, the geometric floor pattern that greets you is from Karndean's heritage collection.  All flooring and carpets were supplied and fitted by Tyne Flooring in Sandhurst.  The black internal doors throughout the home are the LPD Amsterdam black primed door, and the sweeping staircase with twisted baluster design was supplied and installed by James Steel Staircases.  As you go up the stairs to the first floor we created a little library area in the upstairs landing.  In the original house this was a small room that was initially going to be my office, but when we took the wall out and saw the light flooding through to the landing we just couldn't close it up again!  So the 5th bedroom now pairs up as my office, and I have a place to read and reflect here whilst basking in the sun shining through.

The kitchen is on the extended side of the house so benefitted from the side and rear extensions, creating a large open plan kitchen diner.  We introduced corner bi-folds so they open out on to the patio and garden beyond, and at the side they open up on to our covered verandah - one of the things on my wish list!  The kitchen was supplied and fitted by Audus Kitchens, for more information on Audus click here.    Audus also fitted our utility, larder and the boot room at the side of the house that the family use as our main 'tradesman' entrance.   The flooring throughout this area is from Amtico's Signature collection, Bordeaux Oak laid parquet style.   I also worked with a sustainable furniture restorer to upcycle some pieces of furniture to suit the style of our home, such as our 3m dining table that Zara stained and painted, then we put protective glass over it.  You can find Zara on instagram @mysanctuaryno8 where she showcases and sells some of her upcycled wares.

As for the bathrooms, we have a downstairs WC, 3 ensuites, and a family bathroom shared by the remaining 2 bedrooms.  All tiles are from Porcelanosa, with the exception of our guest ensuite which is typically my favourite bathroom in the house but the least used!  The black tiles here were imported from Italy, through Igalari in St. Albans who have a great range of beautiful porcelain tiles.  You can tell I love the marble effect look - it's elegant and timeless.

Downstairs also benefits from a games room at the front of the house which I designed in an art deco style keeping in character with the period of the house.  I just love this Zoffany wallpaper.  When you've got a large wall go big and bold with a wallpaper for dramatic effect, this one certainly makes a statement.  If you'd like any tips on choosing wallpaper for your home, have a read of my blog "For the Love of Wallpaper".   I also maximised the  view out of the lovely bay window with the installation of a window seat, fitted by Neatsmith who did all the fixed cabinetry, office and wardrobe solutions throughout our home.  

Our lounge is the other room where I wanted to make a statement with wallpaper, enter this tropical global fusion wallpaper from Galerie.   As the lounge opens out on to our verandah and the garden beyond through french doors, I wanted to bridge the space between the outdoors and indoors by having a tropical garden inspired design, with a pop of colour too.   The blue flowers within the wallpaper are further brought out by our blue sofas from the British Design Shop which dominate the room.   

However, the focal point of our lounge remains the fireplace that has some eclectic and personal history for us too.  We installed a Chesney log burner, with the help of Grate Fires, and the fireplace surround we actually brought up from a pub to family home building project we did in Devon, and reinstalled it here.   Back in 2008 we purchased a derelict 17th century pub that had been left to waste and closed for 2 years.  We converted it in to a 6 bed family home as a holiday let, and also enjoyed it personally for a good 10 years or so, but took the decision to sell it during Covid when the market was right and people were moving to the country.  Also to help finance our new home project!  However, we took a few pieces with us, such as this fireplace surround so have a few keepsakes with us here in St. Albans too.   If you'd like to follow the building journey and see more pictures of our pub conversion, have a read here. Our lounge isn't easy to photograph as it doesn't have much natural light (our choice, it's an evening room really) but hopefully you get the gist of it!

Moving Upstairs...

There are 4 large double bedrooms on the first floor, of which 2 are ensuite, and one bedroom pairs up as my office.  Again, I've gone pretty bold with the final design of my office.  It won't be to everyone's taste but I love a bit of animal print and, well, it's my office so my choice!  With the help of Neatsmith we created 2 corner work stations so the kids can use the office too if they want a change of scenery from their room (what planet was I on when I thought teenagers would leave their rooms?!?!).  They also created shelving and cupboards so I have lots of space for my interior design library of samples and brochures.

Meanwhile in the 2 kids rooms, we made maximum use of the lovely bay windows.  My son chose to build a desk in to his bay window, whilst my daughter opted for a window seat and storage.    Her double mirrored wardrobes also open up to a secret hidden bathroom ensuite beyond.

Moving up to the top floor, the loft conversion created a huge room which serves as the master bedroom, complete with his 'n' hers walk-in wardrobes, a large ensuite with double bath and separate walk-in shower, and Mac was also able to carve himself out an office in the large side dormer at the top of the stairs.  The beauty of this room however is the large full length floor to ceiling windows and french doors, with juliette balcony, that look out to the garden and park beyond.  It's a beautiful waking view and my leopard print chaise is well-placed to enjoy it!

Last but by no means least...

The garden.  One of the reasons I fell in love with this home in the first place.  For the first time ever in my life I've thoroughly enjoyed a bit of gardening.  I am no expert, and have been lucky enough to have had the initial help of Planting Gems to create a planting scheme along the side borders of the garden, not to mention green-fingered in-laws who delight in a bit of gardening.  So I have been a bit spoilt, but I've absolutely got stuck in too and spent many a day out there weeding, planting and even cultivating a vegetable patch - I grew my first courgettes, garlic and one random baby aubergine!  It's a work in progress...

However our lifestyle very much extends to the outdoors, we are a very sociable family, often entertaining, and my husband does love a BBQ which I will always welcome as it gives me a break from the cooking.   I also mentioned a covered verandah being on my wish list for this final family home and I couldn't be more delighted with the outdoor seating area we've created on the corner of the house beside the kitchen, which is also accessed from the french bay doors in our lounge.   We extended our kitchen further by having an outdoor kitchen installed in front of our verandah, thanks to the Outdoor Kitchen Collective, complete with gas BBQ, a Big Green Egg, an integrated ice bucket and a seating bar area with 2 stalls.  We love it and it's the perfect spot for entertaining.

Whilst landscaping the garden we decided to returf it all to get it all levelled and renewed.  We wanted to put in a pathway up the garden to the summer house at the back too, so decided to do the whole lot in one go along with the driveway, and had both laid with a resin bound surface.  All landscaping and the resin driveway/paths were undertaken by Ross Newman Construction who did a fantastic job, also creating a second outdoor seating platform area towards the back of the garden which has become the perfect teen chill zone.  

So there you have it, our last stop forever home.  Now we'll concentrate on building lovely homes and creating beautiful interiors for other people to enjoy as well, so watch this space... and be sure to sign up to our blog or follow us on FaceBook or Instagram to see what is coming next!  In the meantime, enjoy this sunset view with us from our garden...and relax