Interior design

Home renovation journey: first-time buyers transform Victorian house with minimalist decor

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Megan Murray
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Before and after pictures of Victorian terrace renovation

Nadine and Julius are the couple behind the renovation Instagram account quickly gathering speed, @rona_renovation. Here they share their best DIY hacks and sources of inspiration behind the transformation of their minimalist home.

Nadine and Julius’ south London Victorian home is a type of place so serene, so simplistically stylish that you imagine the porcelain-tiled bathroom and airy, ecru bedroom magicked themselves that way overnight. 

The reality, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. And, while looking at the couple’s minimalist home has an instantly calming effect, it’s also satisfying to see the hard graft that went into making it look that way. 

Nadine and Julius only started their renovation in April 2020 but already have amassed an impressive 21,000 followers who get a kick out of watching how the homeowners transform each room from the ground up – literally. 

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Speaking to Stylist.co.uk, Nadine explains that buying a property from the Victorian era was always the couple’s goal: “Julius was super passionate about buying a Victorian house as he has an appreciation for their sturdiness and traditional design. 

However, Victorian houses tend to be priced a little more competitively in London. We viewed all different types of houses, but when we viewed this house that was in our desired area, from the Victorian era and featured all the period features we love like brickwork, bay windows and coving, we instantly knew this was it.”

But had the pair always envisioned taking on a renovation, especially one that had quite so much to do? “Budget-wise we knew it wasn’t feasible to get a Victorian house that was already modernised and, as we were keen to put our own stamp on something, this would have presented an issue for me anyway as I couldn’t have bared to rip up an already modernised home. 

“It would have felt like such a waste. So, essentially, we knew this house would always be a project.”

Nadine and Julius have been documenting their progress on their Instagram account @rona_renovation with a balance of pristine ‘after’ shots and in-the-thick-of-it footage as they pull up floors, knock through fireplaces and experiment with DIY hacks like attaching their own skirting boards. 

With two rooms done and lots more to keep working on, they say there’s currently no end in sight with the dream goal to save enough to remodel the entire kitchen. 

Here we ask Nadine what she’s learned so far, what tips she would give those doing their own renovations, and her favourite brands and Instagram accounts to check out for fellow interior enthusiasts.

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Inspired by… cultured minimalism 

“We are both drawn to minimal, somewhat sparse spaces with a Scandinavian feel, so this was always the vision. I knew I wanted our home to feel calm, however, there’s a fine line between minimal and uninteresting! 

“So the goal was (and still is) to achieve a neutral palette and add interest (and a nod to our culture) with art, music, books and furnishings.”

Before and after examples of a chic, minimalist bedroom
Home renovation: the bedroom before and after.

Biggest challenge so far… hours of paintwork

“We are currently battling through the painting and, for some reason, it feels so hard! I think that’s a symptom of renovating for such a long time and juggling that alongside full-time jobs, so the exhaustion is really setting in. 

“There have been so many physical and gruesome jobs though, including the back-breaking job of knocking out what used to be the blocked-up fireplace recesses and finding lots of dead birds…”

Favourite room of the house… the master bedroom

“Our master bedroom is so calming, and in these crazy pandemic times, it has become my favourite space. When things aren’t so manic in the rest of the house I can’t wait to re-style this room and have more of a play.”

Must-do DIY hacks… stock up on Easy Fill

“I have a golden rule: if something looks ropey, caulk or Easy Fill will fix it. My advice is to have lots of both to hand at all times; you won’t regret it!”

Best places to buy furniture… always hunt for second-hand first

“When it comes to furniture my motto is always to try and get something second hand before buying new. For mid-century furniture, Hackney Flea Market is great and they have a sister market in Peckham also. 

“South London’s Crystal Palace is such a hidden gem for antique sellers and second-hand homewares. I recommend checking out Haynes Lane Market and all the shops on Church Road.”

Renovated bathroom before and after work has been done.
Home renovation pictures: the bathroom before and after.

Nadine’s favourite Instagram accounts for interior inspiration:

  • Black Homes UK

    Black Homes UK brings together Black content creators from across the world to showcase their homes and interior talents with plenty of decorating inspiration. 

    Nadine says: “For those who are passionate about diversity and equality in creative spaces, I feel it’s super important to re-train your algorithm to put different types of people ‘in front’ of you, which is why Black Homes UK is amazing.”

  • TAT by Charlie Porter

    Nadine touts TAT as “the ultimate inspiration rabbit hole” which describes the eclectic-ness of its mish-mash of interior shots pretty perfectly. 

    Curated by Charlie Porter, TAT specialises in antiques and vintage brands and aesthetics, as well as interviews from those in the interior design world.

  • The Modern House

    Usually when you see a home as dreamy as the one pictured above it might be assumed that it belongs to some celebrity halfway across the world. 

    On The Modern House account, though, all the homes are actually for sale. Crazy, right? It might be the most luxurious home window shopping you’ll ever do.

Nadine’s go-to homeware brands:

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Images: Nadine and Jules at rona@renovation

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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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