Keeping an open mind

PUBLISHED: 11:28 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 20 February 2013

The bed that the couple had made has a rustic look

The bed that the couple had made has a rustic look

For Belinda Farrell and her husband Tom, moving from London meant more space, but settling in Maldon has proved a complete breath of fresh air

Who lives there Tom, who works in finance, and his wife Belinda,
who is an arts administrator
Property style A three-bedroomed 1940s house in Maldon
Top decorating tip 'Don't be afraid to try things,' says Belinda
Best bargain tip 'Putting the dining room and lounge together
and creating the concrete floor was much more reasonable than
we thought,' adds Tom
What made you buy this property 'Coming from a smaller place in London we were amazed at what we got for our money and we were pleased to find a house with a big garden,' explains Tom

MAKING the move from the City was a big step for Belinda and Tom Farrell. 'We had been living in London for some time,' recalls Tom,
'but we thought a change would be an exciting venture.'
After looking at various houses in towns and villages across the South East, the couple settled on Maldon. 'The house was much bigger than our London home and we were really attracted to the open feel of the place,' adds Tom.

In the two years since the couple have been in the house they have made it homely and welcoming, but have also given it a truly stylish edge. Tom and Belinda are both interested in interior design and have spent time planning a gorgeous look for every room. The downstairs of the house is very light and has windows to most aspects. Tom and Belinda have the benefit of a large conservatory which has been built at the back of the house. They decided to use this impressive area as a lounge and dining room which would have daylight flooding in from the two doors and high windows that are along each side of the room.
'When we moved in there was a rather weary carpet in this room which we knew we were going to want to change,' explains Tom. 'We already had the vague idea of using concrete as a good-looking alternative flooring.'

After looking into this plan a little more, the couple discovered that it wouldn't actually be too difficult to do and it would make such a saving from the sort of carpets or tiles that they had in mind as alternatives.
'The floor had to be done slowly and smoothed with a float as much as possible,' says Belinda. 'Tom then applied an acid stain giving the floor a polished sheen and protection from furniture scuffing it.' Being the first thing that the couple did, the successful completion of the floor gave them lots of encouragement and they were spurred on to do more. They painted the lounge in a trendy urban shade called Dot Com, which looked great with their existing sofa, and accessorised the room in a simple uncluttered style. Tom put up a shelf below the high window and
used it to display some antique enamel tins which really completed the cool, new look.

The dining room is a contrast to the lounge in that it has exposed brick work and a much more casual feel to it. Belinda and Tom used their collection of odd dining chairs and a table that Tom made to achieve this look. 'We wanted the house to have an eclectic style and not look too much of the same as we went from room to room,' adds Belinda.

Tom and Belinda were enjoying doing the house and were keen to get the kitchen sorted out before starting on the upstairs. 'We needed to get the kitchen straight and had been gathering ideas for ages,' says Belinda. As the couple love entertaining, the kitchen needed to be functional and easy to use as well as an attractive room to be in. They chose wooden Shaker-style units and an end grain wooden work top which they had cut and bonded to form splash backs around the room. 'It is great to have such a spacious kitchen,' comments Belinda, 'and the room has become quite a social area which we're really pleased about.'

Throughout the house the couple have worked with interesting colours which have added to the mood and ambience of each room. For their bedroom they were keen to try something a little different. 'We wanted to achieve an elegant, almost romantic look in our bedroom and were keen to use some of our much-loved pieces of furniture. Tom and Belinda painted the room completely white which created a fantastic background for the furniture.

Art Deco design
They found a picture of the bed that they wanted and commissioned a company to make it for them. While they waited on this they were able to fit a beautiful antique mirror into one of the recesses and use the wooden surface in front to house a few books and an elegant Art Deco sidelight that Tom had bought for Belinda as a gift. As soon as the bed arrived the couple got to work on the finishing touch for the room. They simply hung plenty of tab-topped white voile to a finial above the head-board of the bed, achieving that romantic look they wanted.

Tom and Belinda had found that since they had moved to Maldon they had fairly quickly made it feel like home. The only room they hadn't decorated was the bathroom. 'We didn't originally have much of an idea for the bathroom,' explains Belinda, 'so we had just left it until we found inspiration.'

This they found while passing by a bathroom showroom. 'We loved a Villeroy and Boch suite with beautiful Hansgrohe taps and ordered what we saw there and then,' says Tom. The purchase of the couple's new bathroom suite put a little pressure on them to prepare the room for the new fittings and the night before the bathroom came, Tom was busy stripping out the room. 'It was a matter of getting the suite fitted and the tiles that we had chosen on the walls as quickly as
possible, so as not to be too disrupting
for us,' adds Tom.

The task all went to plan and the room took on a fantastic new look. Tom even used a contrasting mosaic wallpaper at the end of the bath to provide yet another personal touch.
With the last room in the house completed and more in keeping with the rest of the couple's home, Belinda and Tom could put their feet up and enjoy a well-earned rest knowing that they wouldn't be spending their weekends decorating for some time to come.
'Moving out of London has been a great leap for us both and getting stuck into this house and all of the necessary work that it entailed has really made the whole experience one we wouldn't have missed for the world,' reflects Belinda.


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