We are back with the second post in our new Interiors feature "A Story of Home" where you meet the people behind the little squares of Instagram and hear the stories behind their homes.
So whose house are we snooping around in today? Well today it's my Instagram pal and hashtag co-host Sarah aka @retwiggd, whom House & Home magazine call one of their top 9 Irish interiors accounts to follow on Instagram.
Pop the kettle on, take a load off, lets relax a while and read the the story of Sarah's home which she shares with her husband and two kids.
How long have you lived here and what type of property is it?
We live in an energy efficient timber framed kit house built by German firm Hanse Haus. It’s a three-bed dormer bungalow meaning all our bedrooms are technically in the roof space We bought the house in 2007 but the sale took ages to go through due to some legal issues with the house, eventually moving in in May 2008.
Did you fall in love with your home instantly? What was the one feature that sealed the deal for you?
Having always rented, we had been saving hard and were lucky to be given some additional financial help from our parents and in 2007 were finally in a position to buy. We had been looking for a family home for while, but struggled to find what we were looking for on our budget. We had a good chunk to spend but whilst the Irish property market had cooled down, it was yet to completely crash so our money didn’t go very far towards our wish list! (The crash happened the summer we moved in!).
I had seen our house on the internet but had discounted it because it looked very small. (Phil and Kirstie are right, never discount a house based on the internet! ). We had gone to yet another unsuccessful house viewing, and I was beginning to despair we’d ever find anywhere. The agent showing us round mentioned he had a house on his books he thought we’d like, but I didn’t think so having seen the details. “Trust me” he said, “it views much better in the flesh”. So trust him we did and I had this lovely feeling about the place almost as soon as I walked in. Despite it being late Autumn and a chill in the air, the house felt wonderfully warm. Because it’s a timber house, there was a lovely smell of wood, a bit like being in Ikea. The house itself was so much more spacious than anything else we’d viewed, there was even a utility room! Plus the garden was a good size with a gorgeous cherry tree. I suspect the agent saw my beaming smile and said “feel free to make me an offer when you’ve finished looking round!”.
Ok, so it wasn’t love at first sight, or the period home of my dreams but it was a good family home and we both got ‘the feels’. After much negotiation off the asking price and a good deal of red tape it was ours.
Had you mentally redecorated before moving in or did your scheme come together over a period of time?
Everywhere in the house was painted in various odd shades of yellow or magnolia. Plus I hated the beech laminate doors and floors. They were all to go, as were the floors I hated! But of course, all our money went in to buying the house so it would be a while before we would afford to do very much. We were renting before we bought the house and were lucky enough to overlap a week before moving in so we could whitewash the main living areas. No way could I live with the custard yellow.
Where do you seek your inspiration?
I have always been an avid reader of interiors magazines, so started to tear out articles of rooms and schemes I loved. I still do that now but in more recent times social apps such as Pinterest and Instagram have also become my go-to places if I’m making changes.
What was the first job in your home you tackled?
After white washing the living space, we painted our hall stairs and landing white too, whilst pregnant with my daughter. They were a strange sort of mustardy yellow, either way not our taste. But to be honest it took quite a while to make any major changes. While the kids were small, we decided to let them do their worst and we could decorate over time as they got older.
Were there any surprises during the revamp/renovation?
Luckily as it’s a new house we didn’t have any major work to undertake other than cosmetic. Although all the walls were wallpapered with a strong textured wall paper (an older couple commissioned the build). When we decided to remove it in the bathrooms it proved very difficult. It did damage the wall and the decorator had to do his best to fill the nicks. Same in our bedroom. As result we’ve just painted over the paper in the rest of the rooms.
What do you think has been the most successful area of your interior?
We put down new oak laminate flooring in our living spaces and went to the dark side painting our kitchen/diner a deep green, taking the colour through to the woodwork. We have been so amazed at the difference being braver with our choices has been.
Sarah's favourite space
Are there any failures in your design/DIY that you care to admit to?
Oh absolutely! When we redecorated our downstairs study/den/guest room, I had fallen in love with Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke. However, when I went to order the paint, I bottled it and chose a light green colour that ended up looking more like blue and was totally lifeless! I learned a valuable lesson, trust your first instinct. Poor hubby had to help me re-painted it, he took it very well!
Which is your favourite room?
Oh, definitely the open plan dining/living space. It gets great light and you can see through in to our garden. A close runner up is our bedroom, unapologetically feminine and luckily Mr R doesn’t object.
Do you have a favourite object in your home?
Gosh, that’s so hard like choosing one of your children! As a self-confessed maximalist, I have so many objects I love and have a sentimental value. Possibly my blue and white delft collection. We are lucky to have some beautiful artwork and some original paintings too. Both my husband and Mum are talented amateur artists and so our walls are full of their beautiful work. So possibly our art collection.
Any golden nuggets of advice to share to anyone undertaking their own revamp/renovation, did you learn any lessons?
Definitely live in a home first before you take on any projects, so you know exactly how you use the space and what you need from a renovation or revamp. Always think about where your light source is, as to how you decorate room. With regard to repainting, hang various paint samples in different places in a room to be sure you like them in all places and times of the day. Light will impact a colour so much. Above all trust your instinct and don’t be afraid to be brave with your choice. Yes, it might date but all interiors date eventually. If you love it now, chances are you’ll love it for years to come.
Oh, and if you make a mistake with colour, its only paint and it can be repainted.
Do you have anywhere in your home that doesn’t make it onto Instagram?
Yes quite a few!! Our house is tricky to photograph as there’s lots of awkward angles. Our dark hallway is one space that never gets the Insta love. Our under stairs is open so we use it as toy storage and my daughter’s crafting space. As a result ,it’s always a mess!! Then there’s the very unimpressive utility room. I have featured our downstairs loo and ensuite but they are very awkward and really don’t make it often. Plus, the outside is custard yellow coloured render with UPVC windows and doors and is on my wish-list to change.
What’s the next project you have planned?
I have a few ideas in mind. We are renovating our garden, adding a proper patio which I’m super excited about. Also, I want to revamp the utility and hallway. You never know, they may even make it on to Insta at some time in the future.
Do you run an Interiors business?
I am in the process of developing an Interior Style Consultancy service, ReTwigg’d Interiors, advising clients on pulling schemes together in their homes, challenging them to be braver with their choices. As an experienced furniture upcycler, I can help them to achieve a vintage vibe by sourcing second hand pieces and incorporating them in to their schemes or revamping pieces they already have, so sticking to tight budgets.
Thank you for sharing your home with us Sarah. I am a huge fan of green ( as you might have guessed) so I love Sarah's use of deep green in her dining space paired with those rich blue velvet chairs. Sarah has a real talent for mixing & layering textures and creates interesting corners with fascinating objects, the result of which is a totally unique home.
To follow Sarah's interior stories and to follow the development of her new business follow her at www.instagram.com/@retwiggd
Sarah is the founder of #stylishhomevibes hashtag on Instagram which she co-host with @gareth_at_31 and me @a_story_of_home