Welcome to our third installment of our new interiors feature "A Story of Home" where we get to meet the people behind some of our favourite Instagram feeds and hear the stories behind their homes.
Today we meet Nikki Davidson Bowman, a talented artist with a colourful home on the South Coast. Pop the kettle and enjoy a snoop around Nikki's home which she shares with her husband Graham and gorgeous rescue dog, Flo
How long have you lived here and what type of property is it?
We’ve lived here for just over 3 years. It’s a detached 1930s house, 10 minutes from the sea on the south coast.
Did you fall in love with your home instantly? What was the one feature that sealed the deal for you?
This has been interesting to discus! Turns out Graham didn’t love it straight away and I did! I think that’s because I could I visualise the potential! It was a big change from our last house which was brand new, on a housing estate. It was bought as a temporary solution as period properties that we were after kept falling through or coming back with horrendous surveys. This house had been rented out for a good few years so was pretty unloved but it had the most gorgeous large hall that I knew could become a welcoming entrance, along with a few period features, and by our standards, a large relatively private garden.
Had you mentally redecorated before moving in or did your scheme come together over a period of time?
The house was all pretty dull décor wise and definitely not my style. I knew for sure that it was all going to be redecorated and naively thought it was going to be a pretty straight forward, strip off 80s wallpaper, chose paint and transform. As it is, the renovations have been more major and more ambitious than we had thought initially. The scheme has come together gradually as I’ve approached each room.
Where do you seek your inspiration?
I’ve always loved flicking through interiors magazines and had been collecting ideas in a traditional scrap book way. I like to think about how nature uses colours because that can help you work out what colours work well together – for example purples and greens. Over time, Pinterest acted as a great source and I set up folders for most of the rooms with ideas and colour schemes. Over the last year Instagram has acted as a good source for trends, given me access to small independent interior traders and ideas for styling. I have a good eye for colour and most inspiration has started by just being in the house and getting a feel for light and how we’re going to use the space. When we’re making major purchases, like our recent bedroom renovations, we usually take a trip to London to look at things.
What was the first job in your home you tackled?
There was one tiny shower room in the house that leaked directly into the garage! This took priority in the renovation as we needed to use it! We extended it slightly taking space from one of the bedrooms and removed a door (it had 2 for some strange reason). In parallel I decorated my daughter’s room as, although she was away at university a lot of the time, she wasn’t that keen on the move and so I wanted her to have a room that she would love to come home to. She loves the house now and likes giving ideas on how we should be decorating!
Were there any surprises during the revamp/renovation?
This project has been full of surprises! The kitchen looked ok when we moved in but we soon realised that the hob didn’t work properly, the oven broke within a few months and the cupboard doors were hanging off! We’ve had blocked drains, found large windows with no lintels, walls that needed supporting and dodgy wiring to name just a few!
What do you think has been the most successful area of your interior?
We removed a wooden lean to that went along all the ground floor at the back of the house, making the rooms really dark and difficult to get fresh air in. Bifold doors off one room and extending the kitchen have made the house so much lighter and connected it with the garden which works really well.
Are there any failures in your design/DIY that you care to admit to?
Since living here, just as the extension part of our renovations came to a close, I lost my hearing on one side, developed tinnitus and also have something called hyperacusis which means I’m very sensitive to noise and have trouble hearing in large open spaces. The open plan nature of our kitchen/dining area is the room I struggle with the most now especially when we’re entertaining. I’m still working with sorting the space out so that the acoustics work better for me. This means things like more rugs and soft furnishings, which wasn’t how I envisaged it initially, and things like putting fabric behind pictures. I still love the design though!
Which is your favourite room?
I think the music room is my favourite space. It has a large window to the side of the house where I’m working on a wilder garden full of colour and flowers plus bifold doors out to the garden at the rear. It’s a luxury to have this room as our ‘den’ I guess given that there are only 2 chairs in here as we are empty nesters. It would originally have probably been a dining room but as we’ve extended off the kitchen it gives us very flexible living options. The room works well all year round, with a pretty gas fire that means we can warm up quickly, plenty of space to relax and a lovely colour pallet of deep reds, oranges and blues. It’s where I do the ironing, chat with girlfriends when they’re round for a coffee, read magazines, and catch up with my Instagram!.
Do you have a favourite object in your home?
I have a little wooden house that I’ve had since I was a child, given to me by an aunt, who was living in Hong Kong at the time. It has a secret drawer in it that reveals a key to open up the roof as it can be used as a moneybox. It really resonates with my love of houses, the secrets that they hold and the fact that life can be full of surprises! It also reminds me that renovations, no matter how well you plan, can be money pits and the need to keep saving!
Any golden nuggets of advice to share to anyone undertaking their own revamp/renovation, did you learn any lessons?
I think it’s a good idea to live in the space for a year and see how it feels. For example is it a warm room, how often to do you use it. The same is true of the outside space – see what’s there before you dig it all up! When you’re styling a room there isn’t always a need to spend much money. I‘ve found some great pieces of furniture for free and revamped some pieces that I wasn’t loving so much anymore.
Do you have anywhere in your home that doesn’t make it onto Instagram?
Oh yes! My utility has never featured but I’m decorating in there at the moment and working with my husband on some new storage ideas for him to make in his workshop, so that might start to appear at some point! My studio( I’m an artist) never appears and never will! It’s a messy creative space and somewhere I always mean to tidy but usually get distracted making something instead!
What’s the next project you have planned?
As I said, I’m working on my utility room at the moment to make it work better as it’s just been a dumping ground since we had it built. I’m also about to start work on an eclectic garden path down the side of the house. After that it will be time to enjoy living here!
Nikki's gorgeous rescue dog, Flo
Do you run a business?
I’m an artist – my work can be seen on my other instagram account, @nikkidbartist
Thank you to Nikki for sharing her home with us. I'm a huge fan of Nikki's style, I love how she has created a home filled with colour and how this colour flows from room to room.
Follow Nikki's home stories on Instagram at @the1930sartistshome or her artist feed at @nikkidbartist and do go check out her website www.nikkidavisonbowman.com