Name: Kay Prestney, husband Andy, and their children Bella and Finn
Location: Essex/Suffolk border, UK
Years lived in: 9 years
Freelance interior designer, stylist and self-confessed Scandi junkie Kay Prestney and her family — husband Andy and children Bella and Finn — are all set to celebrate the festive season in style in their cozy country home. The largely monochrome palette of whites, pale greys and deepest off-blacks is softened by natural wood and wicker, accessories in ceramic, copper and coloured glass, and plenty of twinkling lights and candles. Wooden floors and rustic wooden benches are warmed up with piles of tactile rugs, sheepskins, cushions and woollen blankets. And, as in any true Scandi-style home, there's a great sense of connection with the outdoors, with bare branches and garlands of evergreen brought in from the local woodlands and used as decoration.
Kay has a wonderfully inspiring talent for seeing the potential in unloved pieces and random finds, bringing them back to life with a little creative upcycling and repurposing, and making everything hang together just beautifully. She's sourced finds from flea markets, reclamation yards and local farms, old pieces from her grandparents' garage and from Andy's childhood home, as well as treasures found on her travels, and used them throughout her home in a variety of ways to bring warmth and character.
While Kay and Andy have transformed the interior style of this 1980s-built home, they decided to keep the original layout as it works so well for their family. The open-plan dining and living space — with the dining table that seats up to fifteen, wood-burning stove and ample seating — is perfect both for family life and for hosting big gatherings of family and friends. Kay simply updated the kitchen, painting the original cupboards and adding new worktops and shelves made from scaffolding planks, which she designed and commissioned a local builder to install. And the children and their friends love how the layout enables them to run in circuits through the kitchen, along the hall and back through into the dining area!
Kay and Andy's main addition to the house has been the creation of a new loft space and mezzanine over the living room, which Kay project-managed. The loft doubles as a den and work space, and is spacious, cosy and filled with light throughout the day — it's a perfect hang-out space for kids and grown-ups alike.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Nature- and Scandi-inspired modern rustic, with upcycling galore.
Inspiration: I'm inspired by Dutch and Scandinavian design, by my travels, and by the natural world.
Favorite Element: The wide-planked wooden floors.
Biggest Challenge: Making a 1980s modern house feel like a characterful home that reflects our style.
What Friends Say: It always feels welcoming and homely.
Biggest Embarrassment: Guests falling off the scaffolding bench because I haven't yet got around to securing it onto its wine-box base...
Proudest DIY: Project managing the loft extension — learning what goes on behind a building project and being able to talk about specs, insulation and heat calculations!
Biggest Indulgence: Andy's Danish sound system. It's perfect for a big party!
Best Advice: Go with what you love rather than following trends, upcycle where possible, and see the potential for reusing items. Bring the outside in and use natural materials for a sense of calm and timelessness.
Dream Sources: European brocantes; unique handcrafted items from places visited to make the holiday memory part of your everyday life; also — a buying trip to Copenhagen with an unlimited budget for some great Scandinavian timeless design pieces.
PAINT & COLORS
Valspar's Tempest Teapot
Farrow & Ball: Borrowed Light, Lamp Room Gray, Downpipe, Strong White
Large chandelier and large wicker lampshade from a vintage antique shop in a converted train station in Belgium.
Snug nook created from upcycled packaging crates and an old florist's worktop.
Corner sofa — Ikea.
Woodburner — Scan
Flooring from a local timber merchant, Thorogoods
"After the Disco" print — Rockett St George
Ponyskin designer chair on loan from my brother
Cupboard — an upcycled junk shop find, painted
TV cabinet — an old cupboard - we painted it and removed the back for cables
Bench made from scaffolding planks and wine crates
Table is a vintage habitat extendable dining table
Wooden drinks cabinet from maternal grandparents' garage!
White cabinet upcycled and painted
Grey chest — a painted antique shop buy
French Louis XVI chair — a car boot find, reupholsted by me on an upholstery course
Kitchen cupboards were already fitted when we moved in; we repainted them in Farrow & Ball Borrowed Light
I made the end unit from an old pallet (my dream kitchen would be Sebastian Cox for DeVOL)
Pew from Andy's mum's old church, which we painted
Pendant light — a reconditioned boot sale find.
Moroccan encaustic tiles sourced from a pop-up souk shop in Bristol
80s vanity unit covered in MDF tongue and groove and painted white
Stable door from a reclamation yard, painted and cut to fit
Habitat sofa bed
Tree trunk table made from a log and mounted on castors
White coffee table bought from a garden nursery in Bristol (now closed down)
Ikea Kallax bookshelves
Record table is a repurposed Singer sewing machine table
Desk — Ikea trestles, top made from an old door from a reclamation yard and sanded down
Frostini desk extendable lights from made.com
Vintage filing cabinet upcycled by my friend Onitha Jarrold
Old linen cupboard from a vintage emporium in Suffolk
Mezzanine ballustrade created from an old piece of wood found in a reclamation yard
Vintage trunk seat — Andy's old school trunk with home-made cushions
Toy chest by desk — an old French chest found in brocantes in Normandy, to which I added castors
Headboard rescued from a skip and repainted
Hanging rail designed and commissioned from a local carpenter
Curtains from Ikea
Blind homemade from a linen tablecloth
Victoria Plumb bath and sink
Washstand designed by me and commissioned from a local carpenter
Ilsa Crawford for Ikea cork bench (not pictured)