Name: Ciara Elliott and family
Location: Mistley, Colchester, Essex UK
Years lived in: 2 years, owned
“I do love big statement pieces — like our brightly coloured yellow sofa and the stand-out rug in our lounge — and I think if you have a few of these big-ticket items you can actually revolve a whole scheme around them,” smiles Ciara Elliott, editor of leading UK interior magazine Essential Kitchen Bathroom and Bedroom. And although it’s still very much a work in progress, Ciara’s home has a definite wow factor thanks to its fabulous Georgian period feature…and to the pieces Ciara has introduced.
Set in a village in rural Essex, this beautiful Georgian house was quite badly in need of renovation when Ciara and her family moved in two years ago. Their first priority was to make it livable so they could enjoy family life here while gradually updating and transforming it into their dream home.
Later this year they’ll be extending the house and building a new kitchen. “We haven’t made any major mistakes yet — I mean other than maybe we should have waited to get the hall and stairways decorated as we are still having workmen in upstairs to fit two more bathrooms. But we do have the big things next — like our kitchen and our extension to build. So ask me in six months and it might be a different story!”
With so much basic building work to do, Ciara says they haven’t had much in the budget left over for furniture, so the graphic rug you see is from the brand La Redoute and was cheap as chips. “If ever I have the money I’ll go for a Beni Ourain real thing.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: I am definitely a magpie. I would love to be all pared back and chic but I love colour and shiny things too much, so while I tend to go neutral on walls I can’t resist layering pictures, textiles and furniture that is quite bright and fun and colourful. And I am always moving things around and changing it up anyway. For some reason I have an aversion to wallpaper and patterned curtains but I am going to get over this when we get to the next phase of the house and start to decorate the kids bedrooms. I cannot wait to do my girls’ bedrooms properly!!
Inspiration: A little bit boho hippy but also quite grown up. I like things like cocktail cabinets and dining rooms and double sinks and headboards and good comfortable bathrooms. I think I’ve spent too much time being a magazine editor and have stayed in too many luxury hotels — eventually I want my house to have the feel of a really comfortable country home that is as good as staying in a hotel. Hah, but I am quite far off from that right now! I love old houses and even though I appreciate new builds I don’t think they are for me. I like mid-century brown furniture and I will always invest in art.
Favorite Element: The original features, including windows, floorboards, maids’ bells and shutters. The massive double-aspect Georgian window in our sitting room is my favourite spot: It looks straight out to the garden at the side of our house and is the perfect perch to read a book or just contemplate the leaves on the trees as all the gorgeous autumnal colours come through.
Biggest Challenge: Turning what was really quite a wreck into a functional family home without spending a massive fortune!!
What Friends Say: They love all the light and the height of the ceilings. It is very airy and magical.
Biggest Embarrassment: The floorboards in the drawing room. We let the builders pick them and were too busy to check up and they are literally the cheapest wood you can find and they’ve buckled out of shape already. We’ve tried varnishing them but really we will have to just replace them as soon as we can find the time/money. Infuriating!
Proudest DIY: I am so bad at DIY! My father-in-law comes around on a Saturday and helps us! But I do love painting and upcycling bits. I love the headboard in our bedroom, which is an old barn door sanded down and painted in Bert and May blues.
Biggest Indulgence: Definitely art. And paying for the upkeep of our windows. We recently had two replaced and they were £1,000 each!
Best Advice: Go slowly and live in it and you will work it out eventually.
Design Tip: I know it’s obvious but light and lighting are crucial when it comes to design projects and the earlier you think about it the better. So draw out where your beds are going to be or where you are going to be sitting, reading or eating and then plan in lighting around that. I don’t think anyone needs a central light in a room anymore actually. Put different pools of light around a room and you will create atmosphere and cosiness with wall lights and pendant lighting, and you can add to all that later as well with floor lamps and side lamps.
Decorating Tip: I think it’s okay to go neutral on walls and floors if you love colour but I do think too much “tastefulness” gets boring very fast. In fact, if you love colour and pattern, you probably want to go neutral so that you can then layer up with accessories afterwards. I am a little over too much rustic and pared back, particularly when it is not the natural feel of the space. I really think the best interiors reflect the owners that live there. Who wants a place that looks the same as everyone else?
My ideal Sunday: It would have to involve frothy coffee, big piles of fat newspapers (ideally full of lots of magazine supplements) and poached eggs, preferably served to me in my bed, and then followed by a good stroll on a perfect autumnal day (lots of leaf kicking from the kids and loads of opportunities to take pictures, I’m a little obsessed with Instagram), followed by a brilliant film that we all love and then home to the perfect roast (which has been miraculously cooked by someone else as I have been out enjoying all of these other activities).
Rocking chair – Original Parker Knoll bought at auction.
Rug — La Redoute
Basket with plant inside — H+M.
Selection of artwork by Irish artist Joby Hickey and Irish fashion illustrator Emma Sheridan
Elephant planter and cushions in window sill — Anthropologie
Red hanging lamp — Habitat
Walls painted in Ammonite — Farrow and Ball
Detail of side board and drinks:
Metallic planter —
Colourful planter —
Champagne glasses —
Original 1960s sideboard — bought at auction.
Cushions and throw —
Wicker pouffe — Ikea.
Sofa and sideboard — both
(sofa was recovered in yellow linen by a local upholsterer).
Artwork — graphic designer Darren Howat.
Three-legged stool —
and yellow stool, bought secondhand and repainted.
Neo-orange rubber vase —
Vintage chair — bought at auction.
Side lamp — Ikea.
Quilt, cushions and throws— all
Walls are painted in Strong White by Farrow and Ball.
Linen and fake blooms — all
Cup — Anthropologie.
Headboard painted in Bluebell —
Fake blooms — all
Vase and mirror — both vintage.
Hector floor light —
Vase, Marks and Spencer Planter (hanging on the wall) —