Despite initially dismissing a tired Fifties house, Sarah and Ken Loveday took another look and saw it could become the spacious family home they needed.
When Sarah Loveday and her husband Ken first saw a ‘soulless’ Fifties home in Leamington Spa, they dismissed it out of hand. ‘There wasn’t much I liked about the house – apart from the fact that it offered us the space that we needed,’ says Sarah, a brand designer and interiors stylist. ‘We told the estate agent we weren’t interested and the house soon sold. But then it came back on to the market.’ The estate agent persuaded Sarah to look again. ‘With some reluctance, we realised it was just what we needed,’ she says. ‘It was dull, plain and empty – but offered us plenty of space. Annie, our middle child, was just three weeks old at the time and we were desperate for more room.’ But the family faced an unexpected challenge when they moved in that almost put a stop to renovation plans. ‘The house was infested with rats,’ says Sarah. ‘It was horrendous. For the first nine months, we weren’t sure if we’d stay because we just couldn’t get rid of them. They were in the cavity space above the kitchen, the sitting room and the studio – knowing they were there was horrible. It wasn’t until they were gone that we felt we could start making the house ours.’ The first task was to widen the hallway, which Sarah describes as narrow and out of proportion to the rest of the house. ‘We had plenty of space in the sitting room, so we pushed that wall back. We also put in a new front door and added a chimney breast to the sitting room, which made a real difference as it gave the room a much-needed focal point.’ Working to a budget, the couple decided to postpone doing a full kitchen renovation, instead fitting new Shakerstyle cupboard fronts for a fresh look. ‘We didn’t start the loft until three years – and another baby – later,’ says Sarah. ‘The space was boarded and separated into two rooms joined by a narrow corridor, and there were windows, but nothing else. We did originally plan on putting two bedrooms upstairs but instead we moved a few walls around and turned one of the rooms into a large en suite.’ With the loft conversion finished, the children – Bella, now nine, Annie, seven, and Todd, five, had the space they needed – and Sarah and Ken had their own attic sanctuary to escape to. Downstairs, the sitting room is full of character and colour, with an eclectic, bohemian mix of vintage prints and artwork, cushions, rugs, antiques and treasures that fill the space with personality. ‘I adore textiles and antiques,’ says Sarah. ‘I like nothing more than scouring auction houses for pieces and picking up textiles on our travels to fill the house with – it gives it so much soul.’ As the house dates from the Fifties, Sarah has incorporated this era into her aesthetic by sourcing vintage furniture online and reupholstering mid-century chairs in bright fabrics. ‘Colour is such a joyful thing to have in your home,’ she says. ‘But I never want my interiors to feel too garish or contrived so I ground them with natural textures like jute and wood. ‘It’s been seven years since we moved in and it has taken time to get the house to a place where it feels like our home,’ Sarah continues. ‘It’s been a slow process and moving to a more modern house was definitely a compromise, but now we love the space we’ve created here.
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