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Rediscovering Warmth, Charm, and a Timeless Sense of Home

Stackpool Road, Bristol

“This redesign has transformed everything about the room. Where it was once cold and unattractive, it is now warm, homely and relaxing.”

The transformative nature of colour - and the impact that well-chosen hues can have on an interior space - is an essential aspect of any room redesign. Cate’s Southville home burst with untapped potential, its charm and character stunted by a handful of unattractive mid-century features and a general sense that it had been formerly unloved, and longed for an essential injection of colour and vibrancy.

There was little doubt that Cate needed me to set her living room free from the purely utilitarian design it had stagnated with. She informed me that prior to moving in, the house had been occupied by four men renting a single room each, and was tatty, outdated, and featured peeling wallpaper and a bland white colour scheme. Perhaps worst of all, the focus of the room centred upon an unattractive 1950s tiled fireplace, which I could clearly see was holding the space back from reaching anything approaching its potential.

In essence, practicality had trumped elegance, and several stunning period features had shrank into the background. In order to enliven the room and bring it back to former glories - while introducing a contemporary essence of comfort - Cate and I decided upon a number of steps which would help bring soul and style to her home’s key communal space.

The Brief

The issues with Cate’s living room were clear. Bland, lacking in spirit, cold, and imbued with the former occupants’ disinterest in anything beyond the functional, the space was in real need of colour and character.

I assisted Cate in selecting a warm blue tone for the walls; one that was sure to bring lasting joy alongside the cosiness she craved. Together, we felt confident that we could opt for a slightly darker shade, due to the amount of natural light the space benefited from, which in itself would introduce a more dramatic flourish and create a more homely ambience. We were also keen to make the most of the overlooked period features of the room, namely a stunning ceiling rose and accompanying intricate ceiling plasterwork, and a picture rail that could add a sense of space and depth.

Cate’s love of nature had prompted an idea to bring plants indoors, celebrating greenery in her living room, and offsetting her chosen colour scheme with the vibrancy that foliage unfailingly presents. Inherited artworks and the gorgeous large window - perfect for sitting by and soaking up the sunshine - allowed me to identify further design cues to use as stylistic springboards.

The Scheme

The walls, painted with that delightfully warming Little Green Wood 251 blue paint, coupled with the stark white ceiling details and picture rail, were nothing short of a triumph. Given further contrast by white shelving in the alcove and a white chest of drawers, the result is a thrilling blend of the vintage and avant-garde.

I was keen to make full use of Cate’s art collection and favourite items of furniture when piecing together the colour palette for her room. This allowed me to integrate tones and shades that I not only knew she was compelled towards, but which would also harmonise with many of her possessions. For example, Cate’s yellow tub chair was an item she was keen to keep, and the delicate colour provided an exciting third tone to make the blue and white stand out even more.

Among the most delightful features of Cate’s new living room came about from how we dealt with that obstructive and outdated fireplace. We made the bold choice to make a feature of the chimney breast, which would be left without either a mantlepiece or fireplace, and mount the television above it. Taking inspiration from cupboards and shelving concepts seen on Pinterest, this choice helped rebalance the focus of the whole room, matching functionality with style, and again adding depth in a subtle and highly effective manner. To run with the brief even further, the once-unattractive fireplace is now home to a plethora of plants, bringing that notion of the outdoors into the very heart of the room.

As I so often do with my clients, I set up a shared Pinterest board with Cate to gather further sources of inspiration when it came to furniture and how the room was to be dressed. Together, we explored our selected colour palettes and preferences, which led to the choice of several new and reclaimed items.

A large rug with a blue and white pattern harmonised with the colour scheme of the room, while providing contrast against the wooden flooring, bringing an almost bohemian elegance with inflections of Lisbon chic. Elegant cocktail chairs, a navy blue Loaf ‘Jonesey’ sofa, a coffee table sourced from Bristol Reclamation and an attractive Pooky ceiling pendant provided beautiful finishing touches. Once my reimagining was complete, Cate’s living room epitomised the warmth, charm, and stylish essence of homeliness she saw in the space’s now realised potential.

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