A Story of Home - @lifes_illusions_kellie

period home renovation classic elegant styling roll top bathroom ideas home inspirations

Welcome to a new edition of A Story of Home , our weekly interiors inspiration feature where we share some of our favourite instagram homes and their stories.


This week is a treat for all you lovers of properties from the Victorian era as we meet Kellie aka @lifes_illusions_kellie who shares her renovation journey with us. Kellie's home is full of beautiful detailing and elegant decorative touches which led to Kellie being given an award for her renovation because it complemented and enhanced the architecture and heritage of St Albans - pretty impressive hey!


Grab a cuppa and enjoy a tour of this weeks award wining home.


detached victorian double fronted villa renovation story

House Bio:

I’m Kellie Waterhouse, married to Rob. We have 3 children, although just our youngest teenage daughter Clementine still lives with us and our cat in a Victorian detached house in the city centre of St Albans. The older two children are regular visitors especially for dads Sunday roast!

Did you fall in love with your home instantly? What was the one feature that sealed the deal for you? 

I fell in love with this house the moment I walked into the hallway. The paintwork was peeling, the carpet was worn and the space was dominated by floor to ceiling furniture, but I could see the ceilings were high and the overall feeling I got was wonderful, I could tell this home had been a warm loving place. I turned to my husband and said “I love it! I want to live here!” I think he said “ Calm down Kellie” ha ha. I’ve always loved double fronted large windowed period houses.

hallway entrance victorian villa home ideas inspirations
hallway entrance inspiration grandfather clock cole & son wallpaper dark wooden floors cast iron victorian radiators

Had you mentally redecorated before moving in or did your scheme come together over a period of time?

Ha I found this question funny as if you knew me you’d know I am constantly mentally redecorating my house. I have always collected wallpaper samples, paint and fabric colours waiting to use them. This house actually needed a complete renovation. The previous family moved in 1975 and had done nothing since! We were fortunate enough to have 6 weeks from getting the keys to this house and leaving our previous house. We still felt quite rushed though.

black white monochrome grey green mantle fireplace styling ideas elegant decor

Where do you seek your inspiration?

I get inspired by so many things. Books I’ve read, places I’ve visited, interior magazines, films I’ve watched, also my favourite department store Liberty.

inspiration books coffee table reads styling ideas interior decor details

What was the first job in your home you tackled?

The first job we tackled was the roof, replacing lead hips and slates and repointing the chimneys to stop the water coming in.

Were there any surprises during the revamp/renovation?

We found two wells whilst renovating our property which was a surprise! One in the garden and one in the cellar!

outdoor garden room terrace garden logburnern green and white planting silver glass lanterns

What do you think has been the most successful area of your interior?

In my opinion we have had a few successes during the renovation project. Firstly we replaced or repaired every window and shutter in the house. A massive job especially as we were living here and the dust was horrendous! I am thrilled with the results though as I love period windows and believe they should be preserved if possible.


We moved the kitchen into the back room which opened onto the garden, I love the space and the design is unique and original to us.


Also we turned a bedroom into an en-suite for the main bedroom which I love. It did take four men to carry a cast iron free standing bath tub up to the room but it’s so worth it as I think it works so well sat in the bay window of the room.


elegant understated kitchen pale grey cabinets dark grey worktop countertops simple styling ideas
elegant simple kitchen styling ideas pale grey cabinets
kitchen styling ideas elegant victorian renovation flowers in the sink
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Are there any failures in your design/DIY that you care to admit to?

I would say that a failure in our design was to not install underfloor heating in our now kitchen/ dining space. The floor was tiled in the renovation and as the room is a very old part of the house with 2 outside walls and a wall of windows it is incredibly cold in the winter months.

dining room cole and sone hummingbird wallpaper pastel scheme victorian renovation

Which is your favourite room?

My favourite room is between kitchen/ dining room with my absolute favourite wallpaper ( hummingbirds Cole and Son) I loved this wall paper for years before I could eventually enjoy it in my home. The other room is my en-suite. I love a bath in the evening and it’s a calm space.

en suite roll top cast iron bath victorian renovation ideas
bathroom sink ideas round glass venetian style mirror bowl sink
classic victorian bedroom ensuite styling pale grey muted palette bedroom decor ideas inspiration grandfather clock

Do you have a favourite object in your home?

This is a difficult question as I love lots of things in my home. The dollhouse that sits in the hallway designed and built from scratch by my grandfather. The grandfather clock which was a gift that sits in the hall. Artwork by my dad. Books! I love my old books.

handmade vintage tudor style dollshouse family heirloom

Any golden nuggets of advice to share to anyone undertaking their own revamp/renovation, did you learn any lessons? 

Every renovation project is different and I think I would say take your time in the planning beforehand. We did work well together, I’m inspired daily by something I’ve seen, read or a place I’ve visited and then my creative imagination working overtime wants to incorporate my ideas into my house, my husband then informs me with his practical head that maybe my ideas cannot be realised in the way I want.


Two years ago we were awarded the Trevelyan Prize by St Albans City Society for our house renovation. An award given for projects that complement and enhance the architecture and heritage of the city. We are so proud of this!

living room sitting room lounge pink velvet sofa ale grey walls vintage furniture contemporary glass chandelier
living room sitting room lounge pink velvet sofas fireplace monochrome artwork

Do you have anywhere in your home that doesn’t make it onto Instagram?

The utility room has not made it on my instagram grid yet! I have some ideas for this room though so hopefully in the not too distant future it will be a room I’m proud of.

green bedroom decor ideas bold wallpaper dragonfly velvet lampshade
green bedroom decor inspiration ideas Victroian renovation period home style lampshade floor lamp bold wallpaper

What’s the next project you have planned? 

We have nearly finished renovating the old cellar. My husband has a passion for everything wine and so he is thrilled to have a cellar for his treasured wine collection.

We have also started changing a front room into a space where we can read ( house all my books ) with a study area and my girls can play the piano.


sideboard styling monkey lamp vintage retro  typewriter study decor ideas

Thank you Kellie for sharing your home story with us. I think a double fronted Victorian villa is right up there as one of my dream properties to own and I love Kellie's sympathetic renovation of hers. 


With such an eye for decorative details, Kellie is a master of styling a clean & classic, elegant look. I'm rather envious of the wonderful selection of wallpapers used throughout her home, which create a wow factor from the second you step into the hallway. Clearly a fellow lover of pattern & print.


You can keep up to date with Kellie's home stories over on instagram, find her at @lifes_illusions_kellie

or you read Kellie's blog lifesillusions


Thanks for stopping by, we will be back soon with another home story.

Bye for now

Sharon x



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