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Interiorssneak peeks

Painterly Touches Give a British Home a Boost

by Garrett Fleming

Painterly Touches Give a British Home a Boost, Design*Sponge

Walk the cherry-tree-lined neighborhood in which artist Diane Hill and Matt live outside London, and I guarantee you’ll be pinching yourself at the end of every block. Its charms are simply that unbelievable. Within minutes of meandering out their front door you can find yourself skipping through a neighborhood zoo, boarding the train to London, dropping the kids off at school or feeding the nearby pond’s family of ducks. All in all, the house’s setting couldn’t be dreamier. Its interior though… well, that seemed more like a nightmare before the couple renovated the quaint space.

Completed in the 1960s, the postwar house was in desperate need of an overhaul when Diane and Matt bought it in 2015. The kitchen had to be gutted, the entire home needed rewiring and carpet, and old furnishings had to go. Luckily, Matt and Diane are one determined pair of perfectionists. So much so, they even tackled the updates themselves to ensure the results were exactly what they were after. All it took was time and a few YouTube tutorials. “[I’m] so proud of myself and my husband,” Diane gushes. “For every screw, every brushstroke, every tile [and] every inch of this house has our own hard work all over it.”

Once the construction period was complete the home seemed to rise anew, like a blank canvas ready to be dressed with the one-of-a-kind artwork Diane is known for. Her pieces don’t live behind glass or in a frame, though. Diane is a muralist, so she is able to create graphics both romantic and bold that burst from their confines and unabashedly take over entire walls. Peek inside the couple’s bedroom, and you’ll find her most abstract work: a mountain of rock in metallic gold and pink. Stroll through the dining rom or into one of their daughters’ bedrooms and you’re greeted by chinoiserie patterns, their floral details and pearlescent birds mesmerizing in every way.

While these paintings and Diane and Matt’s attention to detail have made this home a winner, stylistically speaking, the duo says the most valuable thing about their space is something absolutely intangible. Not soon after moving in Diane gave birth to their second daughter, and the comfort and calm vibe of this home has made them feel more blessed than ever before. Click through to take a look, and enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Diane Hill

Image above: Diane and Matt love the calming vibe of sophistication the hand-painted mural lends to their bedroom. “The design was inspired by all sorts of natural textures: of marble, concrete and plaster…,” Diane explains. Many of the works throughout the pair’s house are as vibrant and colorful as this one here. To keep these details from visually cluttering up the various spaces, Diane has balanced them out with bright and white accessories.

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Matt built this dressing desk for Diane so she could have more space to get ready in the morning. "I always sat on the floor to do my makeup in our flat, and now I have this, which is just heavenly!" Diane says.
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When painter Diane and asset manager Matt found out they were expecting their second child, the pair knew it was time for more room. They left behind their quaint flat and snagged some more square footage in Cheshunt, one of London's leafy suburbs. Since moving in, Diane has done a number on the home's walls, amplifying them with four murals and colorful accessorizing. The house needed a total renovation, and - thanks to some clever YouTube tutorials - Matt was able to save some cash by doing the rehab himself while Diane painted away.
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Diane wanted her IKEA shelving to stand out amongst the soft pinks and creams of the rest of the bedroom, so she painted these black lines on the edge of each shelf. Lamp by Very.

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It took Diane about a year to paint her youngest daughter Bonnie's mural since she had to stop and go as the kiddo napped. She says all the hard work has been worth it, though. Especially when she sees her daughter's eyes light up as she plays beneath it: "She points to the birds and butterflies. I hear her in the morning talking about the birds. It's so sweet to hear!"
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So much love went into the mural, Diane couldn't bring herself to cover it with bulky and distracting furniture. She's instead opted for a streamlined IKEA unit.
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Long before she ventured into painting walls, Diane painted London's various vistas onto canvases and pillows. A reminder of these humble beginnings hangs above the sofa in the living room.
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The room had to be "cozy, comfortable and liveable" as it is the most used space in the house. On some days it functions as a gym and others a dance club, but it's mainly just a cozy spot for relaxation.
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"What I love most about my home is... when the living room becomes our dance floor," - Diane Hill
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Originally this chimney breast was going to be removed, but Diane fought for it to stay so she could create a focal point for the living room. With its teal hue, it now commands attention and offers a great distraction from the TV and clutter that sit to its left.
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A year ago Diane quit her job designing wallpaper for a big brand and began creating pieces for herself. Until she's able to turn her house's loft space into a full-fledged home office, Diane will continue working from right here at the dining room table surrounded by one of her murals. She's cleverly layered two paints - one matte and one in a devastatingly beautiful pearlescent silver - to add depth to the piece.
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From the tile to the paint job, all of the bathroom's updates were done by Diane and Matt. The room was initially painted in a more muted mustard, but the color bugged Diane like no other. So much so, within a week of finishing it she had gotten a more vibrant hue and repainted the space.
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The mural in Rosie's room only took a few days to complete, and Diane and Matt are eternally grateful that the process cranked along quickly. At the time, Rosie was really struggling with living in a new home and with the idea of having a younger sister. This space's makeover helped ease her stresses and worries.
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The couple tells us the mural matches Rosie's personality: "soft and calm."
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A new dishwasher – a “life changer” according to the foodie couple – and pretty teal tile from Walls and Floors rebooted the kitchen very quickly. They chose every fixture and detail themselves.

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The Hill family's home features three bedrooms and one bath and was built in the 1960s.

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