Half Built House

Eastbourne top tips

Follow Sian's top tips for achieving a look similar to Ben and Stacey's home in Eastbourne

Ben, Stacey, Sian and Jacob

1. Zoning a room: floating ceiling, built-in units and differing flooring materials

Having a huge kitchen / diner is is a luxury many of us would die for but it can be a problem to define areas, zone the space and create interest.

In Eastbourne I created a natural demarcation between kitchen and dining area with the use of the cooking island but further enhanced this zone by lowering the ceiling just over the range cooker.

Built out storage units on the walls around the dining table created depth and meant I could use a vivid feature wallpaper between the cabinets so as not to overpower the room. Using tiling in the kitchen and at the patio doors then engineered board from the dining area through into the rest of the ground floor was both practical but also made design sense as the areas were both zoned and linked at the same time.


2. Granite cladding - cost effective way to get the expensive granite look

Sometimes it just isn't practical to use timber worktops and if your budget will stretch beyond laminate, then marble and granite are popular choices.

In relatively complicated schemes like Eastbourne, where there is a Belfast sink and also a cooker island with incorporated breakfast bar, we had a template made on site once the units were in. This template was then taken away and the black granite specified designed and fabricated to wrap around the template. Having wrap-around granite is also ideal if you can't take out your existing worktops for whatever reason.


3. Hidden storage in dead spaces

Storage storage storage, the mantra that everyone in property chants because we never have enough of it!

When you're redesigning or renovating your house, think about every single square inch of space and how you can best access and utilise it. It's a trick I learned from being a landlord as most tenanted property has very little storage yet people have so much stuff.

For example in Eastbourne, I allowed the dead corner space next to the range cooker to be accessed from the dining area side, thus creating a toy cupboard especially for Jacob.


4. Tiling in a fireplace for a wood burning stove

Ben and Stacey had mentioned their desire for a wood-burning stove in the living room but our budget didn't stretch to installing that for them.

Instead of fitting timber skirting inside the opened up fireplace, I asked Dominic to tile an upstand to match the hearth tiles which would then be both decorative and practical should the couple get a wood burner installed at a later date. I used the same tiles as in the kitchen to create a cost effective yet cohesive look for the ground floor.


5. Get a bespoke sofa made and ensure all your fabrics look good together

Rather than buy a sofa 'off the shelf' we asked a fabulous British upholstery company to make one to exactly the specification and style I wanted with the sumptuous fabric I wanted too - perfect!

It meant the sofa was exactly the right size with the one full length seat cushion for all the family to snuggle up together. It's important to get actual samples of fabrics which you can look at and match to paints and other interior design choices - remember colours are rarely the same as they look on the internet or in catalogues.


6. Upcycle furniture with chalk paint

Stacey had bought a wonderful vintage rocking chair from a secondhand store but it was in need of some tlc and beautification. I used chalk paint, which doesn't need any preparatory sanding or primer to the timber, and painted two coats, one Versailles green and also a French Linen taupe. The chair was then soft waxed and sanded to give a distressed and worn feel, then I buffed it to a shiny finish. I can't tell you how easy water based chalk paint is to use, you will totally fall in love with it!


7. Use bold wallpaper in limited areas

The couple's colour choices on the images I'd seen were very muted and restrained. I felt they were young enough to take a serious injection of vibrant colour, but not everywhere as the scheme still needed to be elegant and sophisticated. The built out bookcases in the dining room had created two perfect areas for feature colour and I found the most amazing peacock wallpaper. It was a bit of a gamble as there had been absolutely no colour anywhere on the couples' images but it looked incredible. Instead of opting for one feature wall in your house, try something a bit more unusual instead!


8. Using mixed tile pattern gives the kitchen a rustic country feel

Stone or ceramic tiling can create a whole host of different effects but sometimes something as simple as changing the pattern or size of grout lines can have a big impact on design.

For Eastbourne I wanted a very stylish yet country feel and for contemporary touches to be kept to a minimum. Instead of using clean sharp lines and a regimented modern pattern, I chose tiles designed to be fitted in a much more random style. This softens the look and makes it more rustic, though the marble and stylish grey colour kept the look elegant.


9. Use a double Belfast sink for a family kitchen

Belfast sinks are very popular at the moment but for a growing family, a single sink isn't always the most practical choice. Where do you rinse your veg when the sink's full of pots, or drain washed items?

Luckily I came across a British-made gorgeous double Belfast sink which also had a ribbed front which made it an even more unusual design style. Beautiful and practical - essential for any kitchen. Don't be tempted to buy products just because they look good, always consider whether they are really fit for purpose.


10. Accent colours and finishing touches

Deciding on an accent colour is a great idea in a scheme you want to keep relatively simple but don't want to be boring. Ben and Stacey's new living room blind was a neutral taupe but had splashes of violet in the flower design and I carried this through by choosing an ever-so-slightly pale walnut paint for the walls and also rich purple crystal flower bottles. It's a trick interior designers have off to a fine art and keeps a scheme looking planned and intentional.