Lucy Williams Shares Her Home Renovation Secrets
Lucy Williams Shares Her Home Renovation Secrets

Lucy Williams Shares Her Home Renovation Secrets

These days, Lucy Williams is known for her interiors taste as much as her personal style – and if you’re anything like us, you’ll have followed every step of her recent home renovation. Here, she tells us more about the process and what she’s learnt along the way.
By Georgina Blaskey

What Was The State Of The Property When You Bought It? 

The previous owner had lived there for 40 years, and it was very loved and taken care of. It just wasn’t very modern – it needed rewiring and a new boiler, and the only place where there wasn't beige carpet was the kitchen (even the bathrooms were covered in it).

What Were Some Of The Structural Changes You Made?

We extended into the side return and out into the garden, as well as adding a small outrigger bedroom between the first floor and loft. We also took out a chimney breast, turned a bedroom into a bathroom and added a skylight to flood the hallway with daylight. With the rewiring, replumbing, numerous walls moving and one ceiling falling down, it ended up being a bit of a gutting. 

MARKING things out with masking tape or post-it notes really helped me understand the PROPORTIONS of each room, which was CRUCIAL in places like bathrooms and kitchens

Did You Work With An Architect? 

I worked with Chantal at Flower Michelin. She helped me understand the entire process from start to finish, and totally understood what I wanted to achieve. We've become really good friends and are working together on another project in Deal now.

Did You Find It Easy To Envisage What The Final House Would Look Like? 

I could picture it all easily, but it definitely changed from start to finish! Marking things out with masking tape or post-it notes really helped me understand the proportions of each room, which was crucial in places like bathrooms and kitchens. One section I struggled to get my head around was the opening between the kitchen and living room. My brain just couldn’t compute how the extended roof would meet the original part of the house. Thankfully, we got there in the end! 

How Would You Describe Your Interiors Style? 

Warm, layered and eclectic. I like spaces to feel really welcoming, comfortable and timeless. Sometimes, people think timeless means devoid of colour or quirks, but I disagree. Timeless means sticking to your own taste, ignoring trends and staying true to that vision as much as you can. I love homes where you feel instantly calm, dogs are allowed on the furniture, and there’s lots of bits and pieces that tell you something about who lives there. 

TIMELESS means sticking to your own TASTE, ignoring trends and staying TRUE to that vision as much as you can

It's Difficult To Make A Victorian Terraced House Feel Unique – How Did You Make Yours Feel So Personal?

Buying anywhere in London is such a huge privilege, now more than ever, but I have to admit I wasn’t looking for a Victorian terrace. I love mid-century homes and, in my opinion, houses built in the 1930s have much better proportions. But I knew this house was the one as soon as I walked in. I wanted to keep as much of the original character as possible and tried to use reclaimed materials to avoid that new ‘developer’ look. I also opted for a window and French doors over Crittal or bi-fold, which allowed for a slightly different kitchen layout. Sourcing freestanding furniture for the traditional alcoves next to the fireplaces often ends up being far cheaper than built-in joinery and looks much more individual. 

What Were Some Of Your Sources Of Inspiration?

I'm a huge fan of Reath Design, a California-based interior design firm, as well as Pierre Yovanovitch, Beata Heuman and Commune Design. It’s their use of colour, timber and focus on practicality that really appeal to me. I love how the Danes use colour and print – they always make it cool rather than twee. 

Did You Use Mood Boards Or Pinterest Boards?

I used Pinterest initially but once I started getting into the nitty gritty of the exact finishes, I used Adobe InDesign to make mood boards for each room – that meant I could envisage how the different textures and colours would work together and how all the rooms would flow together. I'd screenshot paint colours, fabrics and pieces of furniture and make collages to check it all worked as one. You definitely need real-life samples to ensure the actual colours work together but the mood boards were so helpful.

What Are Your Favourite Colour Combinations?

I love pale blue (as you can probably tell) teamed with dark brown, mustard or bright pillar box red. My childhood bedroom was painted pale blue when I was 11 so it’s clearly a long-term love affair. I think the earthier colours stop it from feeling sugary or too airy. I also have a weird thing for mushroomy lilac with bright red or terracotta. 

How Have You Used Them?

I love the dark brown marble countertop and the island which we painted in Farrow & Ball's ‘Cola. Our TV room is painted in a stony French blue (‘Yonder’ by Farrow & Ball) and it looks great against the mustard sofa and burnt terracotta on the rug and cushions. My hallway looks pink in photos but it’s actually a muddy lilac called ‘Soho House’ by Mylands. It looks so good with the reclaimed quarry tiles on the floor and the reddish painted banister. 

SOURCING freestanding furniture for the traditional alcoves next to the fireplaces often ends up being far CHEAPER than built-in joinery and looks much more INDIVIDUAL

Where Did You Source Your Furniture?

About two thirds of the items in the house are vintage or antiques. Other than it's far more sustainable, it's also one of the best ways to add character and personality to a space – I’m also fully addicted to the thrill of the hunt. Vinterior is my go-to, as are the online auctions via The Saleroom. I love going to Kempton and Ardingly markets for a proper rummage, and browsing car boot sales in Battersea and Chiswick. Lillie Road and The Old Cinema in Chiswick are two of my local favourites.

What Are Your Tips For Sourcing Second-Hand Furniture?

Keep notes on your phone of the dimensions for the spaces you have in mind, so if you come across a piece you’ll know if it's going to fit. I also bought a little tape measure I kept on my key ring so I could always measure different pieces – geeky but very handy!

What Was The Most Challenging Part Of The Renovation?

Juggling all the different timings – lead times included – was the most stressful part. While my builder was in charge of buying things like the sanitaryware, lots of the tiles, flooring, lighting and joinery were all being sourced and supplied by me, so I had to make sure they were on site at the right time to save any delays.

Did You Manage To Stick To Your Budget?

I'm not sure anyone renovating in the last two years has managed to stick to their budget because the price of raw materials and labour has shot up. One trap I definitely fell into was thinking I'd go for the slightly more expensive option because the price seemed only marginally higher, but doing that over and over again really adds up. Make spreadsheets and don't forget to account for the small details like hinges, handles, paint and curtains. And always remember to add VAT to pretty much everything, as it's often only added at the final bill.

Is There Anything You Would Do Differently?

I wouldn't get married the same year as doing up the house – it almost tipped me over the edge! Otherwise, I would probably just have a walk-in shower in our family bathroom and not a shower over the bath. It’s not something we ever use, and I was thinking too much about the resale. Who knows… maybe I’ll be glad of it one day. 

Is There Anything Left To Do?

There's still one light hanging out of my bathroom ceiling that's become my absolute nemesis and none of our sliding bathroom doors have locks or proper handles on them yet. One day I will muster up the energy to sort it out!  Ridiculously, I already want to re-wallpaper our downstairs loo or lacquer the whole thing in gloss paint. 

Finally, What’s Your Favourite Room In The House?

That's a hard one because I love different rooms at different times of day depending on the weather. But there's nothing I love more than lighting a fire and some candles in our blue snug room and watching a great box set. It feels so cosy and I love all the different colours, textures, and the bookshelves that frame the entrance. The fact we can pull the pocket doors shut makes it even more den-like.

Follow @LucyWilliamsHome on Instagram for more home updates.

Photography by Christopher Horwood.

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