Interior design

Home renovation: “I didn’t follow trends when renovating my three-bed ex-council home, this is what happened”

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Megan Murray
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Ex-council home renovation

Terracotta-pink walls, a self-built kitchen and lots more still to do; we think you’ll like this week’s renovation account.

Rebekah Killigrew is an editor and writer who has been juggling the renovation of her three-bed semi-detached mid-century ex-council home with family life in lockdown

“I live with my husband, Tom; our 3-year-old daughter, Lula; our dog, Rambo; and we have another baby due in the next few weeks – so there’s a lot going on,” Rebekah tells Stylist.co.uk.

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Home renovation journey: “How I made my cottagecore renovation dreams come true”

“We were supposed to be living with my in-laws throughout the renovation but the pandemic changed all that. Our original timeline was weeks, not months, but because of lockdown this totally fell apart,” she explains.

“Looking back, it was really tricky at times – especially with a toddler and a dog. But overall, living in the house while we renovated ended up having a positive impact on our design and decor decisions.”

While this isn’t her ‘forever’ home, Rebekah wasted no time in putting together plans to make the space her own and improve functionality for her family’s life.

After designing and fitting the kitchen in-house and transforming every room, she’s still planning to renovate an out-building into a utility room, paint the exterior of the house, drop the kerb for off-road parking and landscape the garden.

This meeting of practicality and style is evident through the home’s interior design, which has a sense of calm and uses beautiful paint colours and thoughtfully chosen accessories.

What was the inspiration behind your home’s decor?

“We wanted the house to be simple yet homely with lots of different textures and light-filled areas. I love mid-century design so there is a bit of that vibe in the house, along with more contemporary and industrial touches in the main living areas. 

“The bedrooms are more reflective of our individual personalities, and have their own unique feel. We learned a lot about our personal style from the last house, which we also renovated. It was really important to us not to follow any trends but to go with our instinct and what would work best for our day-to-day life. We were keen to make sure that the house had a good connection to the garden, which influenced our decision to knock down part of a wall and have bi-folds fitted.”

Parquet flooring kitchen
Home renovation: kitchen before and after

Biggest challenge?

“The kitchen! I planned it all out myself and ordered all of the materials, which came from different places, and some things I missed and had to order last minute. It was fitted by my husband and his uncle, so they had to work with the tools that they had, and do a lot of problem solving! 

“It was really difficult to keep the costs low – I wanted a nice kitchen that I could be proud of, but also had in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to overspend given that we are likely to move again. We ended up re-using the existing units to keep costs down, and replaced the doors, worktops and appliances.”

Children's room before and after
Home renovation: children's room before and after

What is your favourite room?

“This is such a difficult question to answer as it’s dependent on my mood! Naturally I gravitate towards the more minimal and neutral spaces, though I have to say my daughter’s bedroom always makes me feel happy – the walls are a gorgeous terracotta-pink and all the contrasting furnishings bring lots of colour and life, and really match her personality. She’s always telling me how much she loves her room too.”

Before and after pictures of living room
Home renovation: before and after living room

Best DIY hack?

“I’m not sure if this qualifies as a ‘hack’ but I would always recommend sourcing vintage furniture on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree – vintage pieces are usually built really well and just a lick of paint can transform them into something unique. 

“It’s very rare that I will purchase a new bit of furniture, and most of the pieces in our house have been with us for years and I just upcyle them or move them into another room when I get bored.”

Rebekah’s go-to homeware brands

  • Beiige Store

    Beiige Store works with artisans in Ghana to create chic rattan furniture such as storage baskets, side tables and armchairs. 

    Shop Beiige Store 

  • Aerende

    Aerende creates handmade home accessories, crafted in the UK by people facing social challenges. 

    Pieces are produced ethically in low-volume batches and spans table linens, candles and ceramics. 

    Shop Aerende

  • Anna Philip London

    Anna Phillip London is an amazing place to get stylish home accessories like body-shaped vases, art prints and dried flowers.

    Shop Anna Philip London

Rebekah’s favourite home inspiration follows:

  • Tanya of Home Style Interior

    Do you love chic, monochrome-focused interiors? Then this account is for you. Tanya nails those coveted trends such as wall panels and marbles, and makes for beautiful home inspiration.

  • @cluelessrenovators

    As we’re getting closer to summer, the Clueless Renovators is the perfect home inspiration. Check out this account’s jungle-like garden, with lush greenery, earthy outdoor furniture and a terrazzo DIY kitchen.

  • Plum and Crumble

    This renovation of a Grade II listed cottage in east Leicestershire has a hint of cottagecore, with calming, dreamy colour schemes and chic styling. Check out the rich green bathroom tiles and experimental pink paint work. 

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Images: Rebekah Killigrew

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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