Gooooooood Mooooorning everyone and I’m very excited to bring you this week’s edition of 10 Beautiful Rooms which is a house tour that I think you are going to love. It’s the home of Reena Simon, who lives in Cardiiff *, in Wales, and I’ve followed her on Instagram for a while where she shows off her interior design skills as Hygge for Home. I am delighted that she agreed to share her house here for us all to look round.
Reena, who lives with her husband Matt, and their three small children, bought the house in 2012 and says it’s a bit of a Tardis. “It’s a Victorian terrace and while it looks small from the outside, it’s surprising how spacious it is when you get inside.”
It also has what she describes as a quirky layout. You can see that the hall wall has been taken out which gives the sofa more breathing space. I’d love to do this in The Mad House but I fantasise about a huge internal Crittall window here.
As you can see the sitting room has been knocked through to create one large room and Reena also says the stairs go up out of the kitchen. “I think the previous owners must have moved them for some reason as the neighbours have a more traditional layout.
“When we moved in the house was very tired and run down. The floorboards were uneven and warped, the fireplace didn’t work, the kitchen was an odd L-shape with very little natural light. The boiler was in the bathroom, there was no shower and the garden was a wreck.”
But upstairs, apart from the bathroom, just needed decorating which they did in stages as and when money permitted. The first job was to squeeze in a roll top slipper bath, move the boiler back to the kitchen and make room for a shower. I have to agree with Reena’s thinking. After years of doing bathrooms last, in this house we did it first and it was lovely to have one space where you could go and shut the door and escape the builders’ mess (and have a little cry at how long it all takes and how messy it gets) and know that it would all be all right in the end. That would be my advice if you’re doing a big refurb – bathroom first. Nothing is ever quite so bad if you can bathe in comfort.
In 2015, the family moved out for three months and left the builders to tackle the downstairs. The floors were levelled, a wood burner went in, bifold doors were installed in the kitchen and the utility room removed to make space for a dining table.
Sensibly they decided against extending as they have decided this isn’t their forever home since the space is a little tight for a family of five and there is no space for a downstairs loo – which definitely makes life easier with toddlers.
The garden followed last year and I like it as much as the inside. The seating was made from scaffolding boards, as were the steps and they laid decking too.
The wall below is Hague blue although in these images it looks a little more like Vardo. Either way it’s a great foil to all the natural wood and monochrome designs that Reena has used throughout the house.
Although Reena has always loved fashion and flipping through magazines, it was while planning her wedding that her love of interiors came to the fore.
That might sound strange, but she says: “I loved the moodboarding and sourcing and bringing everything together and styling the venue. We bought our first house shortly after the wedding and that’s when I really developed my passion for interiors as I stopped buying things for myself and started buying for the house instead.
“We also had our first baby when we bought the house so I was at home on maternity leave and that was the first time I had ever spent so much time at home. That really influenced the way I perceived my surroundings and how I decorated the house.”
So how does Reena describe her style? She calls it modern rustic with some bohemian and luxe touches. “I am definitely learning as I go but it’s true that the house is a real reflection of the things I love. I try my best not to get swayed by trends or disposable house items and I’m really strict with what I buy.
“I think my style has developed as a result of not having a huge amount of money to redesign the house. When you have a tight budget it forces you to be more creative and make use of materials that, perhaps, aren’t the norm – we have a copper rod as a curtain pole for example.”
Her house might be modern rustic now but Reena’s dream house would be a New York loft with exposed brick, crittall windows and all open plan. But she has tried to bring some of those elements in with industrial style lighting, cast iron brackets and American tin tiles in the kitchen.
And let’s talk about this kitchen. I’m always trying to persuade people to bring in some patterned tiles to soften the space and bring in some personality and Reena has done this to perfection. The tiles are from the British Ceramic Tile Company.
“I had seen them on Pinterest and also used a lot in bathrooms but never in a kitchen. I was nervous about being this bold in the kitchen but I’m so glad I did. When we first renovated we had the same floor in the kitchen as the sitting room but the washing machine flooded and warped the wood so we had to replace it.
“I love this look so much more and can’t believe we hadn’t considered tiles to start with. It just goes to show that sometimes you need to live in a space for a while before you figure out what you actually want.”
We should also talk about the table while we’re in the kitchen. Reena had seen one like this years ago cutting it out of a magazine well before she even bought the house.
“I was hoping by the time we got a house that it would be mainstream and I would be able to pick one up cheaply but it just wasn’t possible,” she says. “In the end I got a carpenter friend to make it and I absolutely love it. I wanted it to make a statement and it’s a little too big for the space but I like that look and feel.”
And that’s the end of the house tour. What do you think? I think this is one of my favourites, not least because it’s very much Mad House style, but also because it just shows what you can achieve on a budget with a bit of lateral thinking. Do follow Reena on instagram if you want to see more pictures
If any of you would like to feature in 10 Rooms then get in touch.
Pictures by Marie Palbom by kind permission and also by Reena.
- See first comment below. It’s exactly that.