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Bright colours and bold patterns bring this country home back to life

Relocating to the country allowed an interiors stylist to create her dream maximalist home

Meet & Greet:

Emily (interiors stylist) and Charlie Mellor (bike company general manager).

When Emily Mellor and her husband Charlie found their dream home in the countryside, it was clearly meant to be.  At the time, in summer 2015, it was in fact already under offer, as Emily found out when she called the real estate agent. But, she says, “I had this premonition that we were going to live there, and I told the real estate agent so. She probably thought I was mad.”

Sure enough, six months later, the agent called her back to tell her that the sale had fallen through, and Emily and Charlie moved in three months later, in April 2016.

Nothing in particular had prompted the move from their previous home, a two-bedroom flat in the city, other than the realisation that they would never be able to upsize to a house in the same area due to the prohibitive property prices, and a desire for a simpler, more outdoorsy way of life. It was the house itself, a characterful, three-storey property built in the late 18th century, that really drew them in: “You can just tell it’s a house that has been loved forever,” says Emily. “You walk in and it resonates good vibes.”

The interiors needed some updating, however. “It was like 1983 on the inside,” Emily recalls. “There was thick carpet everywhere, lots of beige and brown, and the kitchen looked like a sauna. There were some really nice patterned wallpapers, but they were in bad condition. The previous owners had lived here for a long time.”

Luckily, Emily had a vision for how she wanted the rooms to look, and cut her hours as a freelance brand consultant so that she could project manage the work.

She started on the main part of the house, redecorating throughout and replacing the bathrooms, and although they weren’t undertaking any major structural renovations, it was still a challenge: “We lived in it while the work was going on, and although we had a brilliant team of local builders, it was a bit of a nightmare,” she says.

After taking a break from the building work, she then started on the kitchen, which is to the side of the main house and would originally have been used as a stable. “There was a fake ceiling, so we removed that to reveal the full ceiling height, but otherwise we just modernised it,” she says. “We’d been living in the house for a while by then, and we realised that we didn’t need to change the layout of the kitchen; it worked perfectly as it was.”

Emily took her design cues from the rural location of the house: a white Aga stove has been teamed with black units with brass handles, a farmhouse-style wooden table and a vintage black-painted dresser displaying crockery and glassware.

In terms of the decor elsewhere, Emily’s style is unabashedly maximalist – one of her key inspirations was the work of the legendary British decorator David Hicks – so bright colours and bold patterns were high on the agenda. “I’d love to be minimalist, but I just don’t know how to do it,” she says.

She set about creating mood boards for each room, pulling together wallpaper samples, paint chips and pictures of furniture and accessories. In each case, she started with a showpiece item such as a stand-out piece of furniture, a patterned wallpaper or a statement lamp, and based the rest of the room around it.

Favourite wallpapers came from brands such as House of Hackney, Svenskt Tenn, Cole & Son and Swedish interior designer Beata Heuman, which she complemented with vibrant paint shades. Furniture was sourced from brands such as Ligne Roset and Hay, as well as local vintage shops and auction sites. “It’s a bit of a mix of everything,” says Emily. “When you’re on a creative journey, things start to find you.”

Since their move to the country, Charlie and Emily’s lives have changed in every way. Charlie has ditched the commute to the city and left his previous job in fashion to work as general manager of a local bike company, and Emily has launched her own interior design and styling company. “Running a house like this is busy – there are always jobs to do,” she says. “I do miss my former life sometimes, and the culture and diversity of the city, but I don’t miss the hectic pace and the dirt. I love visiting, but I’m always so happy to come home.”

Emily’s design tips:

  • Give yourself time, and live in the space first if you can. It could save you money, as you might change your mind about everything you thought you wanted to do when you first moved in. Don’t rush.
  • Call in as many samples as you can to see how they work together, board them up and put them up on the wall, so that you can live with them for a bit and see how they change with the light.
  • If you’ve got something you love, such as a picture or a favourite piece of furniture, use that as a base for a scheme.
  • If your budget is tight, think creatively. We didn’t have the budget to do a carpet runner on the stairs, so we painted a black runner all the way up the stairs and landing.
  • Above all, be brave. Colour can really enhance a room, and your mood.

Words by: Jessica Doyle Photography by: Ingrid Rasmussen/Living Inside

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