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Home Design Lessons From a Retro-Inspired English Cottage

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When it comes to mental health, the spaces we occupy are often overlooked, according to Siân, a former graphic designer and now a mental health practitioner in East Sussex, U.K. That’s why Siân worked hard to channel her creativity into her own 949-square-foot home renovation.

“I find having a space for this creativity, and making my home so personal to us, is incredibly important for my mental health and overall well-being,” she says. “It is such an important part of helping us feel settled, safe, and also forms part of our identity. If we can’t be our most true self at home, then where can we be?”

We took the tour of Siân’s cheerful, three-story Edwardian cottage in East Sussex, and we found three lessons worth stealing. Let’s take a look!

1. Don’t let a limited budget stop you.

One big challenge for Siân was the small budget the family set aside for the renovation. “The low budget meant we have done a lot of the work ourselves, and it has taken us much longer than we would have liked,” she says.

So, how did they do it? “We overcame the challenge through sheer perseverance, continuing to buy much of our furniture secondhand, and looking for ways to get the look we wanted on a budget,” she explains, pointing to her vintage cookware.

As for the kitchen, the family chose IKEA for the cabinets and had Plykea make the bright yellow, Formica-topped plywood counter. “It fills our kitchen with sunshine, even on a grey day.”

2. If you absolutely love something, buy it.

Walk into Siân’s home and the first thing you’ll notice is the bright color! Behind the charming Ercol dining room table, you’ll find a 1960s peach-orange daisy wallpaper. “I found the wallpaper about 10 years prior, in a flea market in Brighton,” says Siân, who admittedly loves ’60s and ’70s design. “There was only one roll, but I knew I had to have it. I kept it for years and years, until I finally found a place to hang it.”

The effect? The orange wallpaper and wood tones of the table instantly create a warm glow, Siân says. “When we eventually move, I’d be tempted to try and steam the wallpaper off the wall!”

3. Treasures can be found just about anywhere!

You never know what you’ll find, so be open to the possibilities of flea markets, estate sales, and thrift shops. Siân, for example, has been a passionate ’60s and ’70s collector for the past 15 years. “So the design choices for our home were always going to be informed by my love of these eras,” she explains. To find midcentury designs on a budget, Siân became a regular at the Brighton Marina Car Boot, a Sussex flea market full of furniture and antique options.

She says, “Not much beats the feeling of potential, when you arrive at a car boot sale on a sunny morning, and have no idea what treasures lie in wait!”

Does this retro kitchen inspire you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.



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