Spring home makeover!
Like a lot of designer makers, my inspiration comes from the ups and downs of ordinary family life ; chance comments, funny moments, hard times shared, and the warmth and humour of the people I love. So, this year has been particularly challenging because, well, how do you make work about ordinary family life when nothing is ordinary?
Luckily, even in the chaos there are constants - my kids are never not funny, my dog is never too well behaved, and spring comes around and brings a burst of creative energy - let me tell you, it’s never been more welcome!
This spring, we decided to channel some of that energy into making our home and studio space a more colourful and inspiring place. Long time followers of our social media may know that the studio, where we design and make our products, backs onto our house with both sharing a courtyard and entryway. This makes the morning commute a dream, but also means that we are looking at the courtyard all day, so it definitely needs to be inspiring! The original white walls of the courtyard were just a bit dreary, but over the past two years we’ve been slowly transforming it each spring, giving us a sense of renewal and adding a little more personality each time.
Back in February 2019, I finally got the mural I’d been dreaming of since my trip to Miami with my Dad in 2017. On the trip, I’d visited Wynwood Walls Art Park which is just filled with incredible murals that inspired me to commission one of my own. I commissioned Bristol graffiti artist Paul Monsters to use my pick of saturated Florida style brights to create a bold geometric mural on the courtyard wall - you’ll recognise it from our product shots. The transformation was amazing, but it made me want even more colour around me.
Last spring, I had the front of the house / studio painted in a cheerful pink, the colour of a raspberry milkshake, with pistachio green window frames. We love it, and so do others in the town - illustrator Rosie Johnson used it as a location for her photoshoot last year, and we’ve had so many compliments from passers by. However, something was still missing - the interior of the house just wasn’t as vibrant and colourful as the outside. The paintwork reflected the neutral colour palette chosen by the previous owner, and my colourful home accessories just didn’t have the impact I wanted against the functional but dull off whites and magnolias they favoured.
I’ve been dreaming for a long time of a colourful kitchen to showcase my collection of quirky retro kitchenalia, and so that’s where we began the interior renovations. First off, we ripped out the tired built in cabinets in our little galley kitchen so that I could embrace my dream of colourful, free standing kitchen furniture - a bold choice for a small space, but it’s paid off. The walls got a makeover with some of the So Close signature sky blue, and I upcycled some fifties cabinets in a cheerful yellow and white which contrasted nicely and created a sunny colour scheme that makes me smile. I love the little fold out work surface and sliding glass fronted doors on the retro cabinet, and knowing that I’ve given a home to a little piece of the past.
I wanted to keep the retro feel going throughout the kitchen without making it feel like a museum, so I went for some classic mid century style white subway tiles, a ceramic Belfast sink and butchers block oak worktop. We modernized the look with a sleek brass tap and grey plank flooring which will be topped with a bright rug. My cute teapot style kettle and vintage cannisters look so at home now, using the kitchen is almost a pleasure.
Standing at my new sink in my brightly coloured kitchen, looking out at my Miami style mural, suddenly the white paint on the front of the studio building seemed dull. Out came the yellow again, and we splashed it across the front of the studio building and side of the house to complete the vibrant courtyard makeover, and give me a view from the sink that’s uplifting and inspiring.
Finally, we began work on the dining room off the kitchen. I’m a long time admirer of Manchester designer Eleanor Bowmer’s bright surface designs, and when I saw her latest collection of “Regency Hollywood” wallpapers I couldn’t help but fall for the fabulously retro “Miami shells trellis” paper. It’s now up on my chimney breast and it makes me feel like I’m back in Miami as I sip my morning brew.
The house is still a work in progress, with some bedrooms and the bathroom coming next, but I definitely feel renewed and refreshed now I’m surrounded by colour and design that I love. The changes and Miami vibes have already inspiring some new product designs for the summer.
Pantry cupboard from @lostwithielanquitecentre
Oak worktop and shelving from @littledevonfurniture
Graffti wall @paulmonsters
Painting and decorating by ATO Home Improvements
Wallpaper by @eleanorbowmer
Giant canvas by @thedriftingbear gifted from @notonthehighstreet
Personalised wooden houses by @thepiphouse
Upcycled Japanese Vase Lamp from @the_light_clinic