Inside a quirky, colourful Victorian end terrace
Layla and Dan Mullins were on the hunt for a coastal home, within commuting distance from London. The town of Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex caught their attention as it fit their criteria perfectly. After viewing this three-bedroom Victorian end terrace, they knew they’d found their home.
It appealed to the couple as it was a period property with lots of original features that didn’t need any structural work doing to it. Plus, the previous owners had already extended at the back and up into the loft. Therefore, any disruptive building work or tasks such as re-wiring had already been done to a high standard.
‘We weren’t looking to take on a major renovation project,’ says Layla. ‘What we discovered was a really beautiful, traditional-style house, that we could put our stamp on with purely cosmetic changes.’
What the couple lacked in building experience they have more than made up for with creative design ideas for the interiors of the Victorian end terrace. Both Layla and Dan enjoy upcycling pieces of furniture as well as adding personality to different rooms with their own artwork and hand-drawn wall murals.
‘We love to find one-off pieces in vintage shops and enjoy scouting around stores like Homesense, which is a favourite of ours,’ Layla says. ‘We also like to shop online for prints, and have some original posters from gigs that my dad and uncle went to in the 60s & 70s. From a sentimental point of view, they are priceless.’
And the couple’s love of music is a theme that runs throughout the house, with decks and records dominating one wall in the dining room, and drums and music paraphernalia in almost every nook. ‘It’s a very important part of our lives, and I suppose it shows,’ says Layla. ‘Dan is a DJ on BKR Essex as well as a percussionist with tribute band The Style Councillors.’
The two bedrooms on the middle floor were children’s rooms when the couple moved in, so they redecorated them with more neutral colours, and Dan’s ‘drum room’ was born. ‘He needed a space to store his equipment, and there is a lot of it, so we have made a feature of his drums by displaying them on shelving,’ explains Layla. ‘There’s also a desk in here, so the room can double as a home office.’
Each room tells a story
The most recent transformation to have been undertaken is the bathroom , with a scheme inspired by New York’s Art Deco era. The wall cabinet was hand-painted by Dan with a recreation of his great-grandad’s barber shop window in Chelsea – and it fits in perfectly with the 1920s look. ‘Our builder thought our eight-page document detailing everything we wanted was a bit over the top!’ recalls Layla. ‘At £6,000 it was our biggest investment in the house, but we are so happy with the result.’
She describes their style as ‘colourful, classic design with an edge’ and luckily, the couple have similar taste. ‘We trust each other’s ideas and are both on board for bold style choices,’ says Layla. ‘It’s important to us that our house feels homely and interesting at the same time.
‘We’ve made sure there’s something to look at and stories behind the pieces in every room, finding inspiration from places like Instagram as well as hotels and restaurants that we’ve been to. The painted geometric shapes in our bedroom, for example, were from a trip to the newly renovated Birch hotel in Hertfordshire – we are definitely drawn to lots of colour.’
Next on the to-do list is a kitchen refresh. Leading on from the dining area, the open-plan layout is perfect for the Mullins’ sociable lifestyle. ‘When we have friends and family over, the dining room and kitchen are the place to be,’ says Layla. ‘The island is a super-social place to have cocktails and nibbles before moving to the dining room for dinner and the dance floor for the after party! We will probably look at having the cupboards resprayed rather than buying new ones, as they are in great condition and we hate the thought of unnecessarily adding to landfill.’
The house has a bright and welcoming feel, partly due to the fact that Layla and Dan have painted most of the surfaces white, introducing splashes of colour to add interest and keep things fresh. ‘This blank canvas has enabled us to fill the spaces with pictures, prints, plants and special memories,’ she says. ‘Plus, we always have flowers in the house, as they just make us happy.’
A testament to creativity
One thing the couple have learnt from their six-year project is that if you don’t like something, you can change it up with a lick of paint and some imagination. ‘Design should be fun, and you don’t have to keep things forever,’ Layla says. ‘My advice is, if you love it, do it. Don’t be afraid to try something new.’
The couple are always entertaining, and friends and family describe the house as ‘just so Layla and Dan’. It’s a testament to their creativity and clever use of colour, which is evident throughout their happy home. ‘We hope our personalities shine out from all of the rooms.’
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Tags: period property