This Dark and Daring UK Home Has a DIY Gilded Staircase

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Name: Rachel Edmonds, my husband Tony, and three sons, Max, Xander and JJ, along with our elderly Rottweiler, Buster
Location: Devon, UK
Type of home: Victorian Detached House
Size: 1600 square feet
Years lived in: 23 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I’m an interiors blogger with a passion for creating sensory homes. Two of my sons are autistic and over the years I started to realize that they wouldn’t wear certain colors, patterns, textures, etc. that heightened their anxiety. As they grew older I realized that this translated into my decorating. I naturally progressed to including things that they liked into my home decorating. And slowly over time I’ve learned how to incorporate their needs into my designs. It’s now something I am passionate about. Our homes are working harder than ever for us and whether you are on the spectrum or not we need them to uplift us, calm us, and bring us joy.

We bought this house as a stopgap 23 years ago with a view to doing it up and moving on but that never seemed to happen. It became our forever home. When we moved in my eldest son was only 6 months old and so much needed to be done to get it livable. We were told the roof would need replacing at some point but the first time it rained after we moved in we found that it actually needed to be replaced immediately! It leaked like a sieve. The first six months were a steep learning curve of unearthing one thing after another that needed to be fixed.

Always on a budget and having already renovated two previous homes, we tackled all the work ourselves apart from the re-roofing, the electrics, and a new boiler system when the old one conked out. And still after 23 years I find things that need fixing. This year has all been about the outside for instance. The huge sash windows all needed some TLC so I’ve been working my way around them repairing them. I’m about to remove another three that need some serious work. I’ve also been working on our boundary wall. The house is surrounded by a beautiful Devon stone wall, which in places is crumbling away so I have removed boulders and coping stones and rebuilt and pointed it during the summer months. It should hopefully stand for at least another 100 years now.

We are so lucky that the house has only ever had five different families live in it since it was built and most of the original features are intact and still here. The last family before us moved into the house the day before Christmas in 1912. The owner was a captain in the Army Veterinary Corps and once he retired from service he set up a vet practice in his own backyard. The practice rooms are now our outhouses. His daughter remained in the house after her parents passed away and then it was our turn to take care of the house.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Dark, Bold, Daring, Surprising, Unique

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room (if it can be called a room) is my hallway and staircase. It’s such an awkward and small space and for years I struggled with getting it right. With hardly any features it never felt like it stood up to the rest of the house. And was never the grand welcoming gesture I aspired to. And then one day out of no where it came to me and I gilded the staircase. Now it has the wow factor that for 23 years escaped me.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought for our home is actually rather boring. I’m currently renovating our outhouses and bought sand and cement as I’m giving rendering a go!

Any advice for creating a home you love? If like me you are always on a budget, it’s great to learn new skills. Doing things ourselves has saved us so much money over the years. And this allows me to save for bigger investment pieces of furniture. I always go for classic design for the main items in my home knowing they will never go out of fashion. They also tend to lift everything else around them. So my high street lamp looks so much better when placed next to a good quality sofa for instance. I also buy a lot of things second hand like the chairs in my dining room and then upcycle them. Oh and I always try to introduce something quirky. A conversation starter into every room. And lastly try not to follow trends. They are costly as they come and go so fast. Instead find your own style and fill your home with things that you love. If you love each and every item your style will shine through and your senses will all come together to create a place that is uniquely you.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.