Welcome to this weeks home story and a tour around one of my favourite Instagram homes. We've got dark decor, lots of beautiful patterns to share and of course there's plenty greenery involved.
Let's welcome the lovely Lily aka @layered.home to the blog and enjoy some interiors inspiration from her stunning home. Over to you Lily...
House Bio: Who lives in your home?
My husband and I, our three kids and my 81 year old mother.
How long have you lived here and what type of property is it?
We live in a Victorian house, originally a three-bedroom, now a 5-bedroom after we added a loft conversion two years after we moved in. We bought our house 5.5 years ago from a friend of mine who only lived in the house for less than one year and realised she was in the wrong area! She now lives two miles away whilst I have found the exact area we wanted to be in.
Did you fall in love with your home instantly? What was the one feature that sealed the deal for you?
Yes we fell in love with the inside of the house although it was smaller than what I had hoped. We loved that it still had some original features in place. The corbels and coving are still in tact, 3 fireplaces and a 135 year old oven - no longer working but an original feature nonetheless.
It also already had a side return built so that the dining area is no longer the usual narrow Victorian space adjoining the kitchen but a wider area that has become an open plan kitchen-diner.
Had you mentally redecorated before moving in or did your scheme come together over a period of time?
Not entirely, no! When we moved in, the house was fairly plain; all the walls were painted very pale colours. It felt like a country home. I didn’t know what to do with it to start with. There were a lot of cream spaces - the kitchen was cream, the brick walls were a warm yellow brick, the floors were honey. It was a magnolia / cream home. Living in a plain cream home did get me thinking quickly that I wanted to add colour and interest to the walls. I just didn’t know what yet nor where to start!
The problem with cream that I had noticed was that it made the entire home look very dull as it’s north-east facing and got very little daylight throughout the year. Anything medium tone just looked really dull.
The middle reception room does not get direct daylight and the light coloured walls did nothing to help open up the space. In fact, it just made it even more dull.
I was determined to make it as far from dull as possible.
Where do you seek your inspiration?
I wasn’t on Instagram at that time so Pinterest was my main source and some interiors magazine. The trouble with some of these sources is that the interiors can feel quite unachievable; too aspirational. It’s so different with Instagram where I see real homes, real people and real spaces plus the transformative journey of these spaces. I don't have huge spaces to play with in my home - I'm in a small Victorian house in East London! What "normal" people do with their real homes are what I find more inspiring than the ultra polished jaw-dropping homes, usually of some American celebrity or high-end established interior designer.
What was the first job in your home you tackled?
I planned to make the front room my studio so I tackled that first. I wanted to bring some colour in though I was not as bold then as I was now. I went with a William Morris classic Golden Lily wallpaper for the chimney breast. I had shelves build in the alcoves and panelled doors made to fit to cover storage spaces. I also painted the rest of this room gold. I guess that was my first step in doing things differently.
I then painted the middle reception room - the one that doesn’t get any direct natural light, a dark blue hue and wallpapered the chimney breast with another William Morris design - the Bird and Pomegranate in the same blue hue. The dark walls really worked to make the space feel deeper and cosier. It’s no longer dull even with very little natural light!
Were there any surprises during the revamp/renovation?
As expected from old Victorian houses, the walls are not straight, some plaster walls just crumble and the floors, especially in bedrooms, are not even. When we did the bathroom, we had to shell out unexpected costs for the floor to be levelled properly otherwise the bath won’t sit on it steadily!
What do you think has been the most successful area of your interior?
I think when I finally realised the type of interiors I like - dark, cosy, eclectic, maximalist - I was able to decorate freely without having to adhere to rules. The style becomes more personal and more “me” for “us” as a family. It’s not for show or because some interior guru says that’s the way it should be. It’s now because it makes the space our home, somewhere we can come home to relax, unwind and be happy in.
Are there any failures in your design/DIY that you care to admit to?
Absolutely. Decorating is a journey for me. That journey has enabled me to find what I really love, whilst making mistakes along the way! Before I went full throttle dark, I was a little fearful and painted my hallways top to bottom - all 3 floors of it - a warm mid grey. I absolutely regretted it straight after we finished painting it. Immediately, I felt I made the hugest mistake by not going dark. The space looked so dull. It was the equivalent of magnolia in grey. However, I could not face the huge job of repainting it so we lived with it for two whole years! That was an eye-opener though as since then, I never painted anything a middle colour!
I also painted my shower room a cappucino warm brown. Big mistake! Warm tones are not suitable in my north-east facing house! Cool tones look and feel right in my home, not warm.
Which is your favourite room?
I can’t choose one! The room we always use now is the front room where the wood stove is. So if I have to choose, it will have to be that because it’s a cosy family space with the wood burner! I have also gone dark in this room and changed the light wallpaper, repainted over the gold walls a dark green and have gone for a cosy gentleman’s club vibe with warm homely touches.
Do you have a favourite object in your home?
I have recently been given some lovely chairs which are also super comfortable. I’ve never had “proper” chairs in the past so these are a real treat. Other than some upcycles that hold sentimental value, I’m leaning towards my chairs in the front room as my favourite objects!
Any golden nuggets of advice to share to anyone undertaking their own revamp/renovation, did you learn any lessons?
Take your time to find out what you really want. Being authentic rather than following trends or copying other people’s styles is always a better choice. Just be yourself and decorate a space that reflects your personality, your likes, your needs (to include the practical needs too). Don’t worry too much about what others think. You have to live in your home, not them! Sometimes it takes a while and you make mistakes. Be patient with yourself. Be open to changing things too when you feel it’s time for a change or for some improvement.
Do you have anywhere in your home that doesn’t make it onto Instagram?
Absolutely! Some spaces are in the process of a revamp so those won’t be seen until finished. But generally the hallways, corners in the kids room that are far too messy, our vivarium and tortoise table for our two tortoisies, and my husband’s mancave! I have actually made it pretty but it is so difficult to photograph and just doesn’t look as nice as a photo actually compared to real life. This is rather bizarre because it’s usually the opposite!
What’s the next project you have planned?
I have a few ongoing projects namely: my eldest’s daughter’s bedroom, some additions to my son’s bedroom, a corner in the front room and window dressing as well, some ceilings need painting, and a few little jobs. I have recently undertaken some bigger projects at home: boiler utility, shower room, front room and my youngest’s daughter’s bedroom as collaborative projects with various brands.
Do you run a business?
I run two businesses! I’m a professional photographer (@lilysawyerphotography) and have been for 10 years photographing weddings, families and portraits. I also run my @layered.home account, a design and interiors page. I create content for brands, work on their brand awareness campaigns via product placements, giveaways and blogs.
Thank you so much Lily for sharing your home with us. I just adore Lily's use of bold patterns - so many beautiful wallpapers to feast your eyes upon - I especially love the wallpapered ceiling. Obviously I'm a fellow lover of all the green walls & plants and I just love all the textures Lily has created making her home really cosy and truly unique.
Thanks for stopping by this weeks home tour, you can follow Lily's home stories at @layered.home over on Instagram.
We will be back next week with another home story, until then
Bye for now