I always thought interior design was something of a finite process. You had a room to decorate, picked a colour scheme, painted, bought cushions and BOOM – done.
But apparently that’s not how it works in my world.
I moved into this house two years ago as a ‘stopgap’. I’d been living in a Buckinghamshire village which I really enjoyed, and to be frank I thought to move into Milton Keynes proper would be a bit of a step down. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to live in this concrete city of roundabouts and redways and saw my move here as a time to reflect on where I ‘really’ wanted to live.
As such our stopgap home is smaller than what we were used to. We had a four bedroom/three bathroom place in the old village and, while gorgeous, it was a pain in the arse to heat and clean. This place felt tiny in comparison with only two bedrooms and the whole downstairs area open-plan.
But I’ve loved this house. It’s been the house I’ve enjoyed living in the most, made even more special by the fact it’s been my first on my own, the first I’ve been able to decorate with as much pink crap and fairy lights as I like. It’s warm, homey, safe and ours. I see us being here for a long time to come.
This summer I decided it was about time we knuckled down to making this stopgap home of ours more to our (my) tastes. I’ve been on a mission to live minimally, with less stuff to leave us feeling cluttered and tied down, and I wanted to introduce solutions to our home that would reflect that. This meant streamlining, looking at storage options and thinking closely about how we used each area of our home.
The first was the living space.
Our living space is an L-shape through to the kitchen, with defined areas for lounging, eating and cooking. The lounge area is probably where we spend most time as a family: reading, cuddling, watching TV. Here’s what it looked like before:
The sofa was an old faithful Karlstad that had seen me through two newborn babies and, to be honest, desperately needed replacing. It dominated the room:
I always felt the room was so busy that it looked untidy even when it wasn’t. Though stored neatly all our stuff seemed to be on display all the time and I hated having to look at it. Stuff was piled upon stuff and the whole room just had far too much going on.
First I swapped out the old chevron rug in the spring to this one (from IKEA but now discontinued) and then I had a few priority areas. One, was to swap out the old armchair bought for the old nursery and create a reading nook for me to curl up in of an evening. Two, I wanted to find a new television unit that would hide much of the clutter that was on show and three, I needed a sideboard for crafting materials and toy storage.
Mission one; my chair.
I searched and searched and searched. My very first chair crush was on a now discontinued ‘Mr Bright’ from John Lewis but at around £1000 that was always a no-go. These can now be found second hand on eBay for around £700 but still I thought this was a bit out of reach.
The chair of dreams was found on MADE. I’d never bought such an important piece of furniture online before and was terrified it would look different in person. I worried to death in the 12 weeks it took to arrive but was over the moon when it finally did. I love it and this is where I can be found in the hour after the kids go to bed, book and glass of red wine in hand. .
Kubrick Wingback Chair in Scuba Blue, £379, MADE.
In the name of minimalism I decanted toys from an old wicker basket that now lives next to my new chair and in that you’ll find books, magazines and a cosy blanket for when it gets nippy. Perfect.
Next up was the TV unit. Again I searched high and low for what I wanted: white, with clean lines, draws or cupboards and some cubby space. I found this in IKEA and, though it was one hell of a mission to get the thing in and out the car and then finally build it (it’s HEAVY), build it I did and it hasn’t fallen apart since so I must have done something right!
RAMSATRA TV Bench, £160, IKEA. I also liked the MOSTORP and BESTA.
I’m still coming up with a storage solution for the hundreds of kids books we have – some of which are underneath the TV. I’ll let you know ;)
Next up was a sideboard. I toyed with the idea of keeping the space empty but I still thought we needed the storage. Once the TV bench was up I was on a roll and again searched my favourite spots for inspiration but this steel cabinet from IKEA came up trumps. It’s lockable so I keep my important paperwork and messy craft equipment in here far away from little hands. There’s also space underneath for baskets which I picked up from IKEA too, Elfie and Hux have one each for their own toys as well as one for toys they share. This way of storing toys is great for speedy end-of-the-day pick-ups.
I still have a box of paperwork that I couldn’t bear to throw out at the side of the sideboard – my minimalism is a work in progress!
IKEA PS Cabinet, £70. KNARRA baskets, £7 each.
Finally, it was time to look at a sofa. Habitat contacted me to ask if I fancied taking a look at their range of slimline couches, and as a long-term fan of theirs of course I blimmin did…
I loved the addition of the deep blue from my wing chair which originally came from the blue accents in the rug and so tentatively decided to stay with the same colour scheme. As I was going off online photos again I was worried the two pieces of furniture might be completely different shades but it was a risk I was happy to take. Though I have to admit I wondered how the room would have looked had I gone for the bright pink Kubrick chair: the ultimate in girly decor. Maybe next time?
The sofa I chose was a good 5cm slimmer than my old Karlstad and, with no footstool, I knew it would open up the room and give us more space to play and enjoy the room.
Habitat Hyde three seater sofa, £600.
I love how modern the sofa makes the room feel. It very much has a Scandinavian aesthetic and its beautiful lines and deep colour really compliment the rest of the room. I have to admit, I kept my old IKEA sofa in the garage because I was kind of emotionally attached to it, but that’s where it’ll be staying. I really love the cosy transformation of the deep blue.
It’s amazing just how different a few key pieces of furniture can make a room look. There was no painting, no messy changes: just storage, a couple of pot plans, the re-positioning of an old rug (the pink one, from Greece) and re-arranging my beloved books.
It’s still a moveable feast, though. I’m not quite happy with the cushion situation (sidenote: why are all the best cushions fifty quid?), there will be a new reading lamp arriving to my nook in January, the gallery wall will be added to and I’m toying with an antique mirror going above the sofa… stay tuned.
Thank you so much for Habitat for collaborating with More Than Toast.