At Home With Emma @oakenhome
This week I'm at home with Emma, the very creative, home styling obsessed lady behind the very popular instagram account @oakenhome where she shares incredible images of her very beautiful home. Read on to learn more about Emma, her home, lifestyle, family and home styling tips.
Tell us about you
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with interior decoration and styling. When I was young, I would spend hours rearranging all my little ornaments on the shelving unit I had in my bedroom, changing the pictures I had on my walls, or moving the furniture around in the room.
I always loved a trip to our local John Lewis with my mum which is where I think my cushion obsession started. My mum liked to change her cushions fairly regularly so we always ended up going to John Lewis, which was just a couple of miles from my parents’ house, to take a look at what was new in the cushion department.
The house I live in currently has been home for 7 years. It’s in Berkshire in the South East of England and is not far from where I grew up. It’s a very warm, bright and sunny house so we’re lucky that we don’t have any major restrictions with what colours we can use. I still prefer to stick to a neutral colour palette simply because I like the calming and relaxing aspect of neutral colours.
We’ve experimented with different colours and we like them for a while but then always return to a more neutral base. I do love using green in the house to add a little more colour. I like the link to nature that green has. We have a couple of green walls in our dining and family room as they both look out onto the garden and we wanted to echo the greenness of the trees and grass within the house.
I take inspiration from lots of different styles ranging from Scandi to country cottage and also urban loft living. I started my Instagram account in April 2021 as I had been following some home accounts for quite a while and had seen that the community is generally a very warm, welcoming and positive environment. I’m so pleased I did this as I’ve made some really lovely Insta pals and I have also enjoyed seeing all the beautiful pictures of peoples’ houses that give me inspiration every day as well as sharing a little bit of our home along the way. It’s also meant that I’ve got to develop and fine tune my photography skills which is an added bonus.
Tell us about your home
Our home was originally built in 1950. It is a detached 4 bedroom house. We have lived here for 7 years. When we viewed the property, we fell in love with the fact that the garden backs onto a local park which is where we spent a lot of our days back then with our baby daughter. The other major selling point for us is that the back of the house and garden faces South. Our previous Victorian house was very cold so having a warm house was really appealing.
The house size and layout was not what we were looking for, however, myself and my husband both had the same vision of how the house could be extended to match our aspirations.
How would you describe your home?
I would describe our home style as a mixture of traditional and rustic with some modern touches. I would love to live a minimalistic lifestyle but it wouldn’t work with our family life.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
My favourite room in the house is our kitchen and dining space which we created when we extended the house. We doubled our downstairs living space which massively improved our life in this house.
How does your home reflect any passions or interests?
I love photography and travel and there are several of our holiday photos framed on the walls around the house. I very rarely buy prints or artwork as I prefer to print out my own photos and get them framed. It’s nice to have lots of visual reminders of happy times especially when living through a pandemic.
What are your favourite items in the home?
One of my favourite items is our dining table. It has really stood the test of time. It has been used for homeschooling, arts and crafts, painting, slime making, bike repairs and, of course, dining, and it still looks good. One of my favourite things to do is to style the dining table for each season and special occasions.
When you moved into your house was it the finished article or was it a project?
As I mentioned above, we bought this house with the intention of extending it. The location was good, it had a lovely south facing garden and the upstairs space suited our needs fairly well, however, every room needed work doing to it. The bedrooms needed redecorating.
The bathrooms needed completely renovating. Our plan with the downstairs was to extend it so that it doubled the floor space. We also intended to convert the loft into another bedroom and bathroom.
What renovation and decorating have you done?
We extended the downstairs to double the floorspace. As part of the extension, we knocked down an interior wall to merge a very small office into the kitchen area and the whole kitchen was ripped out and replaced. The kitchen was significantly enlarged, we added a dining room and family room and the living room was doubled in size. What as the dining room, was converted into a much larger playroom.
Every room upstairs has been redecorated and we’ve also completely replaced the main bathroom. In the utility room, we’ve replaced the doors on the units and redecorated, however, we didn’t make any structural changes to it.
My main key learning from the project was how to source and work with architects, structural engineers, tradesmen and successfully navigate the planning application process. We had never done this before so it was a steep learning curve. It was a lot of hard work but we would definitely do it again.
Have you had any DIY or styling disasters?
It’s not exactly a DIY disaster but, as part of our ground floor extension, we planned a complete refit of the kitchen. When it came to planning the new kitchen, our builder noticed that the kitchen floor wasn’t level. When we investigated further, we discovered that there was a problem with the floor. The previous owners had already extended the kitchen. The extension had passed building regulations, however, they had used the maximum length of wooden beam allowed to build the floor and the wood had started to bow. We therefore had to rip out the floor, build an underground supporting wall before we could even start work on the kitchen refurb.
What is your top home styling tip?
Think about the longevity the items you choose for your house. For example, we chose oak floorboards which I definitely wouldn’t do again. They started off as a lovely dark brown colour but have oranged over the years and I really dislike them now. I wish we had chosen a floorboard that was not going to discolour as much. It might have meant that we couldn’t have oak but, in the long term, I would definitely prefer a floor that had stayed the colour that we initially chose.
Is there anything in your home that you couldn’t live without?
My bath. I’m a creature of habit and I love having a bath in the evening to have a quick relax in. I definitely sleep better after having a bath.
They say that every home tells visitors a story about who lives there. What do you think your home says about you?
Our home is first and foremost a family home. When a visitor walks in, I hope they notice that we like to live in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing as well as being practical. I hope they see our house as a calm, tranquil and relaxing space for us to retreat to for rest and play after a hard day at work and school.
The Home Edit
Lived-in or showhome?
A lived-in showhome – is that possible?!?
If you could only paint your walls one colour, which one would it be?
Farrow & Ball Ammonite
What is your pet hate when it comes to your own or other’s homes?
Bad smells. I can’t stand walking into our house and being able to smell what we ate last night.
Favourite front door colour
Carpet or Floorboards
Kitchen table dining or formal dining room?
Both if possible
High gloss or rustic?
Wallpaper or Brick Walls?
I love wallpaper but, one day, I’d also love a house with an exposed brick wall. I’ve never had one so it’s definitely on my ‘wish list’ for the future.
If you enjoyed being at home with Emma, you might like to take a look inside other popular home styling accounts on instagram and find out more about the people behind them. You can see more of these "at home with" articles here
You can catch up with Emma's instagram account here. It's well worth a look!