This U.K. Home Can Best Be Described as “Modernism and Eclectic’s Love Child”

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A wood-floored living room with gallery walls and a yellow lounge chair
Credit: Nicola Walch

Nicola is a marketing manager for an agency that specialises in sustainable barware and drinkware solutions for the hospitality industry, and has been living in this 1960s house for two years with her husband, James, and their two children: I live with my husband, James, who is an architect and urban design senior director; our two children, George (12) and Emilia (9); and our ginger cat, Ralph. James and I used to live in the village with his parents when we first started dating 19 years ago and fell in love with the place. We heard through friends of the family in December 2020 that they were thinking of selling their home and so got in touch and did it all privately, as houses in Shenstone sell really fast and at a premium — so we were really lucky!

Our house is rather unique; it’s a detached triangular late-1960s brick build. It’s had several extensions throughout its life, which add to the unique shape. It’s not your average cookie-cutter house. James knew immediately what he wanted to do to our home so he drew up the plans before we’d even moved in and we had everything ready to go from the start. This was our first renovation project so we had a lot of things to learn and it was a bit daunting, but we got through it!

Credit: Nicola Walch

We made the 538-square-foot, open-plan living area first by knocking through the living room and dining room at the rear and relocating two doorways for the utility and coat cupboard. We also closed off a door from the existing kitchen into the dining room and the door into the utility to create a separate room to turn the kitchen into a snug.

The open-plan area was to house the kitchen. Relocating a kitchen is a lot of work, but we had a great team of builders, etc. The kitchen design features a secret door that leads into the utility to keep the smooth clean lines of the cupboards uninterrupted and it’s also great fun walking out of a cupboard onto unsuspecting guests!

Credit: Nicola Walch

We created a large island to house a lot of storage and the hob, which features a built-in extractor fan so we didn’t have to mess with the ceiling. The open plan is zoned out really well and has the dining area in the middle and then our living space at the other end; it’s great for ensuring we all spend time together as a family. We love how light and airy the room is, which is helped by a lot of natural light and light oak flooring.

The original kitchen at the front of the house was turned into a snug and we really took our time with this room; we only completed it in January 2023. It has a very cosy, elegant vibe and is for grown-ups only. James and I retreat here in the evenings when the children have gone to bed. We were able to find another home for the kitchen, as it was still in good working condition.

Credit: Nicola Walch

The hallway and stairs were in need of some attention due to the building work and we had the flooring replaced with a vinyl tiled floor so it was easy to keep clean and decorated the area and stairs. A new lighter carpet was placed on each step of the unique open riser staircase and to the landing. All the woodwork for the stairs was repainted gray and the doors and skirting are all black. The exposed brick wall adds to the drama in this space.

Credit: Nicola Walch

I repainted the utility (laundry room) cupboards a blush pink, had bespoke shelves made to increase the storage, and added my own style in there (quirky art and disco balls) to make it more fun. Who doesn’t love a disco when they are cleaning?

Credit: Nicola Walch

I work from home permanently and this was the first room we decorated; I have lots of storage, a standing desk, and my Lego collection, and it doubles as a games room for the kids. We haven’t decorated upstairs yet, as this will be another large project, but we have styled each room to our own tastes. Our newest project is sorting out the internal garage and making it a rec room and gym.

Credit: Nicola Walch

Our home is filled with art. Most have cheeky messages and they’re all a bit weird and cool. Our TV in the open plan is part of the gallery wall and I have a lot of fun designing new art for the screen to mix it up so the space doesn’t get boring. I also channel my creativity into content for our home account, I will put my hand to most DIY projects and learn from asking my dad or mostly YouTube!

Credit: Nicola Walch

We both have a rather dry sarcastic sense of humour and this is very much reflected in our art, which is slowly taking over the house. I’m more eclectic in my style and James is more minimalist, so we do have differences of opinion sometimes, but this definitely creates an interesting aesthetic and I’m all for dopamine decor at the moment!

Describe your home’s style in five words or fewer: Modernism and eclectic’s love child.

Credit: Nicola Walch

What is your favorite room and why? My favourite room would be the snug. I took risks here by using a really dark blue colour on the walls and I’ve never before been a risk taker. I always played it safe with my decor choices so I’m really happy with how it’s worked out. It has such a cosy, snuggly, opulence feel to the room, where we can shut ourselves away and relax.

The large bay window shows us fantastic sunsets in the evenings! My bespoke shelving in the old doorway is definitely my style and features books that my mother left me who sadly passed away a year ago and didn’t get to see my home in person.

Credit: James Walch

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My favourite piece of art by Babak Ganjei. I’d been after it for years, so I saved up to get it for the hallway. James jokes that when we were first dating, I used to “randomly” turn up where he was playing football or the same cinema so it resonates with me lol.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Create mood boards and follow interior accounts on Instagram. It’s a treasure trove of hints, tips, and inspiration, plus everyone is lovely and happy to offer advice. Last of all, just be you. It’s your home, you live there — do what makes you and your family happy!

Thanks, Nicola!

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