At Home With Sue
This week I'm at home with Sue the gardening and flower loving lady behind the popular instagram account @makeovermarketst where she shares beautiful images of her renovated Cumbrian cottage. Read on to learn more about Sue, her home, lifestyle, and top tips for home styling.
Tell us about you
I moved to my little cottage, with window seats and sash windows, in February 2017 after living for 20 years in Kendal. It’s one of four properties that were built in 1842 to accommodate the workers of a local employer and is located on the main street of Dalton-in-Furness, a small historic town situated between the sea and the Lake District.
Dalton-in-Furness has a history going back to the Saxon period and was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Daltune. I work in a secondary school and have a grown up daughter who has just moved to Oxford for work.
Tell us about your home
I would say that my style in this property is ‘country cottage’ with a ‘rustic’ feel as this is in keeping with the cottage’s age, features and surroundings. My colour pallet is mostly light and neutral downstairs as this creates a feeling of connectedness and flow throughout the rooms. As with many properties of this age the layout is long and thin.
The kitchen and bathroom were added to the back of the main cottage from converting the dry middens and out houses that were synonymous with so many cottages in the 1800’s. In order to bring more height and light, I painted the beams and ceiling in the same colour pallet. (Farrow and Ball’s Ammonite and All White). Filling all the tiny holes in these beams was truly backbreaking.
The bathroom panelling is a little darker in Manor House Gray as I wanted more warmth adding to here.
My bedroom however, completely goes off-piste and is full on loud and dramatic with its Ellie Cashman wallpaper and black walls.
How would you describe your home?
My style is influenced by my surroundings and can change depending on what property I am living in. As my currant home is a cottage and in the country I have tried to stay true to the period of the house. I love to add in texture and warmth by using accent colours, my current favourite is pink. I also like to use rustic wood, natural materials and flowers to bring the outdoors in.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
The bathroom would be my favourite room as this was the first project I undertook with help from my 79 year old dad. He very kindly, or unwittingly, stayed with me for a week to help bring the vision I had for this room to life and I’ll always love it for that reason. I think the panelling gives this room such warmth and as it’s constructed using marine ply it’s practical too.
How does your home reflect any passions or interests?
My home always hints at something floral whether that’s a vase of fresh flowers, a handmade wreath or the bold floral wallpaper in my bedroom. My love of flowers has always been harnessed through my love of gardening but since moving to this cottage, wreath making has also become a passion. My home, garden and the surrounding countryside provide me with so much inspiration for my floral designs but also the opportunity to forage for materials for my wreaths and displays.
What are your favourite items in the home?
The items which hold the most value are the preloved or vintage items. My dining room table was a ‘FB Marketplace’ buy for £40 and was transported, along with four chairs for a precarious 50 miles in a Hyundai Getz! A large proportion of my furniture is preloved, including the French bed in my daughter’s room and wardrobe/armoire in the dining room that were both transported over from a French brocante. This bed always fosters a feeling of connectedness to my daughter even though she no longer lives at home.
When you moved into your house was it the finished article or was it a project?
When I moved into the cottage it had been empty for over three years and was in need of some major repair work. The worst ‘surprise’ was the infestation of wood eating insects avidly consuming the damp kitchen cupboards, closely followed by the woodworm in the loft.
It’s taken me four years to get where I am now, but I am really proud that mostofthe work has been painstakingly done by myself, one project at a time.
What renovation and decorating have you done?
Structurally, there have been no alterations but everything else has been done from scratch. As the budget was tight, I’ve had to turn my hands to all sorts of DIY. I even pulled out the old kitchen to keep costs down before the new cabinets went in. I have learnt new skills and built on existing ones along the way. I’d say to myself, ‘always have a go, I mean what have you really got to lose? You will most likely end up surprising yourself.’
Take a look at above at how dated things looked when I moved in!
Have you had any DIY or styling disasters?
I really disliked the new kitchen when it went in, mainly because the colour that looked grey in the showroom, looked green in situ, but also because the Howden’s units were surprisingly nothing like the Neptune units I had been dreaming about. It took me three attempts to get the colour right in here as the brightness of the large kitchen window was changing the colour. I do think I got there in the end and I am warming to it more every day.
What is your top home styling tip?
You can dress anything with flowers and it will always look good.
Is there anything in your home that you couldn’t live without?
For me, it would be the bath. I love nothing more than a good old soak after work in my roll top bath. I also love this original cupboard, with all of the age marks, dints and woodworm holes it brings with it. I sanded it back, painted it in chalk paint, and then distressed it to give it a more rustic feel. It has now become such a recognisable feature of the cottage.
They say that every home tells visitors a story about who lives there. What do you think your home says about you?
That I’m tidy, organised and slightly obsessed with flowers!
The Home Edit
Lived-in or showhome?
If you could only paint your walls one colour, which one would it be?
I think it would be grey or white as the cottage is so small. You can always switch it up by adding colourful throws and accessories.
What is your pet hate when it comes to your own or other’s homes?
Clutter! I live by the philosophy, ‘Tidy house - tidy mind.’ Everything has its place and when the cottage is in chaos I feel stressed.
Favourite front door colour?
I love the colour it is now, which is Farrow and Ball Oval Room Blue. I would really love a pink front door but because we live in a conservation area the colours we are allowed are restricted.
Carpet or Floorboards?
I love carpets in the living area as it adds a cosy feel to the cottage but I have floorboards everywhere else, apart from the bathroom where I have tiles.
Kitchen table dining or formal dining room?
I still love having a separate dining room but as it’s quite open to the rest of the house it doesn’t feel so formal. If I had a large kitchen extension (maybe in the future) then I would love an island.
High gloss or rustic?
Wallpaper or Brick Walls?
I couldn’t be without my Ellie Cashman bedroom wallpaper but would love an exposed brick wall in the kitchen.
If you enjoyed being at home with Sue, 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 view more of these "at home with" articles here
Catch up with Sue's instagram account here. It's well worth a look!