Older homes with plaster walls are near and dear to my heart. Last year I made the scary leap to becoming a homeowner of a 1950s build and while they can be a pain in the you-know-what, I find comfort in their quirks—good and bad. So when self-described designer/maker, blogger and mama Sarah-Louise Kimmer spoke about the challenges of even hanging a photo saying, “I tend to use [Command Strips] and tape as opposed to attempting to screw anything now,” I couldn’t help but grin and nod with understanding. While older homes can cause some frustration, it seems that back in the day all home builders were expert problem-solvers and masters of function. The attention to detail made towards the flow and layout of an older home is something I always notice, and something that Sarah-Louise and husband David, who runs his own digital/brand design agency, kept top of mind when they were first looking for a home just over a year ago. Needless to say, they found what they were looking for: “I fell in love the second I stepped through the door,” says Sarah-Louise.
Located in the outskirts of Arundel, West Sussex, UK, the home was originally a police house. While it’s located on a somewhat busy street, the backyard opens onto fields and a small forest of trees which the sun sets over in the evening. (Talk about romantic!) When it came to decorating, Sarah-Louise comments that it’s still a work in progress. It’s the first time she’s had to compromise and find balance between her style and David’s style, but the design goal they do share is to maximize the feeling of light and space while keeping it cozy, comfortable, organized and family friendly and I must say, I think they’ve more than met those goals. The way they’ve combined the new with the old, hand-me-down and inherited pieces is brilliant. And though there’s myriad textures and colors in every corner, the restraint and subtlety balances the busy with the simple just so.
Photographs by Sarah-Louise Kimmer
Images above: Sarah-Louise’s daughter Boo plays and jumps and does what all children do so well in Sarah-Louise’s lounge, which oozes with plenty of texture and gorgeous sunlight. It may be large (allowing Boo plenty of space to play and jump around) and bright, but it still feels comfortable and lived-in.
Image above: Sarah-Louise snatched up the Ercol day bed and glass factory trolley-turned-coffee table from eBay. The cushions are handmade by Sarah-Louise and the blanket is from House of Rym. “The lamp was borrowed from my mother… I’ve always had my eye on it… I think it’s staying!”
Image above: What a beautiful #WeAreFamily2014 moment, right?!
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Image above: Sarah-Louise (admittedly) has an obsession with chairs and is always toying with the idea of covering them, but there’s something quite nice about the vintage fabric of her hand-me-down Parker Knoll original. “The wood burner was the first thing we had installed when we moved in and we love it,” and I don’t blame them. I love it too, Sarah-Louise!
Image above: The plants must love the afternoon sun that streams in through the window in a little space behind the sofa. What a lovely spot to sit and look out over the back garden and fields.
Images above: The dining area and kitchen is the heart of Sarah-Louise and David’s home. It’s also the space where Sarah-Louise can further indulge in her chair obsession and her love and talent for mixing new pieces with old ones. The McIntosh mid-century dining table was inherited from her grandparents, which reminds her of many happy memories of meals had around that table; “[I] love seeing our loved ones gathered around it, or watching Boo make her many creations at it.” The tiny white cabinet was rescued from her grandfather’s shed, which he used to store his mower oils in. It was originally a meat cabinet that Sarah-Louise painted, cross-stitched and transformed into Boo’s craft storage. Above it is a star light from IKEA and to the left, a large larder cabinet from Marks & Spencer.
Image above: Another chair, another DIY project for Sarah-Louise! “I’m slowly crocheting honeycomb patches to cover the arms and seat where it’s worn.” A sneaking suspicion tells me the string shelves from Haus London were hung with Command Strips.
Images above: Sarah-Louise’s beloved cookbook collection and KitchenAid mixer, which was a gift from David. As much as Sarah-Louise loves leafing through the books, she admits that David is much better at cooking than she is. The triangle tea towel is from Ferm Living and the chopping board, trivet and yellow scales are from Bloomingville.
Images above: The main-floor bathroom is the darkest part of the home, but Sarah-Louise did a fantastic job of brightening it up with touches of neon paint from Rustoleum, a few handmade pieces such as the light pull and Whitby wallpaper in Washed Denim by Mini Moderns.
Image above: Sarah-Louise and David decided to keep the bedroom very simple, bright and calm. “It’s flooded with sunlight in the daytime and is quiet and calm at night.” Their memory foam mattress and super king-size bed make for a luxurious, good night’s sleep. I’m sure the linen pillowcases and Bloomingville UK throws help as well!
Image above: Sarah-Louise is working on her vintage mirror collection to one day create a wall display with. “This is one of three so far… The pictures are of my Grandma Daf & Grandpa Ernest (whose chair is in our room).” Above them, painted onto the glass, is a little hand-lettered mantra saying “Believe and be you.”
Image above: More chairs! This number was from her other grandma. Sarah-Louise has many fond memories of curling up in it whenever they’d visit. It’s also the spot that her grandma sat in the first time she held Boo as a newborn. Sarah-Louise says, “I’m very sentimental about this one.”
Images above: Boo’s bedroom is large and offers ample space for playing and sleepovers. Her midi bed and hideaway nook underneath would have been the envy of my childhood self. “Boo loves to make dens with sheets and blankets under there!” The rug, throw and pillow case is from H&M Home and the bed is by Birlea.
Images above: Boo’s rocking horse, handmade by a family member, is beautifully crafted and will live as an heirloom for decades. The fields on the wall were created using washi tape and the door is painted with blackboard paint for Boo to doodle on. The doll perched happily on the shelf was Sarah-Louise’s grandmother’s and the Little Grey Rabbit books were her dad’s and uncle’s. “My brother and I used to read them when we stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We feel very privileged to have them and they are firm favourites.”
Image above: Sarah-Louise’s studio space is calm and organized, which is a must for her to be able to think and work efficiently. When Boo is home, Sarah-Louise likes to have her work alongside her. Her favorite part of her office has to be her original Harry Bertoia chair (obviously!), which she spotted outside a tiny antique shop in town. Considering the number of chairs she already owned, she forced herself to leave without it, but David went back and got it for her the following day. “Considering he despairs of my chair obsession, this was a hugely symbolic act…Love!” The desk, locker cabinet and book shelves are from IKEA, the lamp from B&Q
Images above: The shelves in Sarah-Louise’s office showcase some of her favorite things, such as her collection of vintage cameras and a cool first aid tin from Hema. “I covered the typewriter with vintage Sanderson fabric and paint inspired by the one I saw on Design*Sponge!” I also love the bunnies seen in pockets of the home. I imagine this may have something to do with her blog name, Lapin Blu.
Image above: This lovely LOAF day bed is the perfect spot for Sarah-Louise to catch up on mail or note down ideas with a cup of hot tea. It also folds out into a guest bed so the office becomes a perfect guest suite for overnight guests. The IKEA stool makes for a perfect (bed)side table and the handmade pillow by Sarah-Louise adds plenty of personality and charm.
Image above: Sarah-Louise added casters to her modular bookshelf to make it easy to move it aside when she wants a clean backdrop for photos. I love the rainbow-organized books. Again, I spy with my little eye, a bunny!