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In London, a Shop Owner’s Carefully Considered Family Home

by Sofia Tuovinen

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
Opting for more space can mean leaving behind a neighborhood you love, and setting down roots in an area that may or may not feel like home at first sight. When Wendy and James Aldridge were expecting their second child and needed more room to roam, they too realized that Hackney, the booming neighborhood in East London where they lived, would be well out of their price range. The couple began looking in other neighborhoods and quickly lucked out in Walthamstow, an area in North East London that proved much more reasonably priced at the time. The extended double fronted house, situated on a quiet street close to Walthamstow tube station, offered Wendy and James everything they wished for, including the scope to put their own mark on it.

With much-appreciated help from Wendy’s father, a plumber and engineer, Wendy and James renovated and redesigned the house to meet their growing family’s needs. “We basically reconfigured the entire ground floor, moving the kitchen from one side of the house to the other and opening up the den,” Wendy explains. From steel support beams to stainless steel countertops, Wendy and James trusted much of the work to be carried out by skilled and qualified family members. “We really kept certain elements of the renovation in the family, which feels really nice,” Wendy adds. 

A more open-plan layout with enough space for two young kids to run around isn’t the only perk of the family’s spacious new home. Wendy, the owner and founder of Homeplace, a website selling an eclectic yet carefully edited selection of vintage and contemporary furniture, lighting, and home accessories, runs her business from home and appreciates the added square footage.

With a business focused on decor, it comes as no surprise that the family’s home is full of character, unique vintage finds and eclectic items from Wendy’s shop. “I’m hugely passionate about creating very personal interiors that tell a story about you as a person – it was one of the reasons for starting the site. I honestly believe that if you love things enough, they will all work together in some way in your home,” she says. As Wendy is always on the hunt for the next treasure, vintage pieces hold a special place in her heart. “Not only do they add lots of character and help you create a truly unique interior, but for the eco-conscious of us out there, it’s hands down the most fun way to recycle!” she exclaims.

While Wendy and James initially chose their home and area to get bang for their buck, their new neighborhood has turned out to be priceless. “Walthamstow has a fantastic community spirit and is full of the most incredibly creative people, many of whom like us, run their own independent businesses,” Wendy shares. Although the couple fondly looks back on their days back in Hackney, they couldn’t be happier in the community that has welcomed their family with such open arms. Sofia

Photography by David Cleveland / @daveycleveland

Image above: The den is where the whole family curls up on Friday nights to watch movies. The process of renovating and decorating her family’s home has taught Wendy to be a lot braver with color. “Previously, we had dabbled in a light grey bedroom but we embraced Down Pipe [by Farrow and Ball], a dark grey, extensively throughout this home,” she shares. 

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In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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“I love a gallery wall and this room was perfect for it,” Wendy explains. The collection includes framed pictures of concerts that Wendy organized during her time at War Child. The Penguin Comics print was designed by James’ uncle, Alan Aldridge.

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A vintage mustard yellow floor lamp pops against the dark hall walls. “This lamp was purchased to sell on the website, but in a serendipitous sequence of events I plugged it in to test if it was working […] and realized it looked so much better in that space than the one we had previously,” Wendy says.

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The moody hall leads to the den and the downstairs bathroom, which Wendy and James turned into a true show-stopper.

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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The downstairs bathroom features wooden tiles, which were made using reclaimed teak from redundant buildings in India. “[They] have heaps of interesting colors through them and a beautifully aged look about them, which we loved so much [that] we clad the walls with them instead of using them to tile the floor,” Wendy explains. 

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“This area was a weird little hallway when we bought the house,” Wendy shares. To allow for a brighter and more functional space, Wendy’s father and his builder knocked out the back, installed an I-beam and added bi-folding doors.

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This is the heart of our home,” Wendy says. “I work from this kitchen table every day, we entertain friends, eat our family meals and have dance-offs with the kids in here regularly.” The stainless steel worktops were made in Wendy’s father’s workshop, now run by her two brothers. 

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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Wendy has always loved exposed brick and dreamed of incorporating it in her family’s kitchen. However, at the time of the renovation, there weren’t many decent-looking brick slips on the market. To solve the problem, Wendy and James went to a salvage yard and hand-picked a batch of reclaimed bricks and hired a machine to cut them into thinner slips. “Our builder roped in his grandson to do the dirty work – we still haven’t managed to clear the garage of the huge amount of red brick dust that it generated!”

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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Pablo, the family’s beloved 9-year-old Border Terrier, poses on his favorite sofa located at the back of the kitchen.

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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Sadly many of the original Victorian features had been ripped out of the house before Wendy and James bought it. The wall paneling in the hall is a lovely and rare feature that has remained intact throughout the decades.

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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Wendy and James with their children Ida and Arlie.

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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“This shot […] sums up my interior style – a mixture of mid-century vintage and retro with a contemporary slant to mix things up,” Wendy shares. Painting the entire room in Farrow and Ball’s Down Pipe makes everything else in the space stand out.

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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Although Wendy considers herself a maximalist rather than a minimalist, she wanted to pare things back in the main bedroom for a calm and soothing feel.

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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Wendy loves French industrial vintage pieces, and was over the moon when she found this unit on eBay. “Vintage lighting is also an obsession of mine,” she adds. “As we had to rewire the entire house, I was determined for a wall light to feature in the [main] bedroom!”

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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“I came across Tom Blachford’s photography on Instagram a few years back and knew instantly I had to have one of his pieces for above our bed,” Wendy shares. “His series ‘Midnight Modern’ depicts the incredible architecture of Palm Springs shot in total darkness, illuminated only by the light of the moon. I adore it.”

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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Green patterned tiles from Mosaic Del Sur add a cheerful touch in the main bathroom. “The chair was never bought for this space – it was another piece I sourced for the site and then put it in there one evening so [I] could sit with the kids whilst they bathed. It has not moved since!” Wendy shares.

In London, a Shop Owner's Carefully Considered Family Home | Design*Sponge
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To encourage Ida to make the move into a room of her own, Wendy and James let her pick the wall color, which ended up being pink. “It did however take 14 test pots of paints to get the right pink for this room!” Wendy says. “The dusty pink by Sanderson we settled on has been the perfect backdrop, and changes color beautifully in the evening light.”

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“Vintage pieces are so important for giving a room personality, so we’ve been sure to add pieces where possible in the kids’ rooms also,” Wendy says. The small tambour desk in Ida’s room was found on eBay.

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Another eBay find in Ida’s room is her red bed frame. Star stickers by Ferm Living add a bit of magic to bedtime.

SOURCE LIST

Den
Wall paint – Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball
Mid-century Teak and Wire Tomado Shelving Unit – eBay
Bla Print – One Must Dash

Downstairs Bathroom
Reclaimed Teak Floor Tiles used to clad wall – Rockett St George
Mirror – eBay
Sink – Reclamation Yard

Entryway
Floor Tiles – Topps Tiles
Vintage Taxidermy Butterflies – Homeplace
Blue paint above woodwork – Hague Blue by Farrow and Ball

Living Room
Vintage West German Ceramics – Homeplace
Rug – All the Hues
Vintage De Sede Armchair – eBay
Sheepskin – Skye Skyns
Artwork – Life:Still by Aida from Nelly Duff
Wall paint – Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball

Kitchen
Kitchen Table – Gathering Moss
Reclaimed Gym Lights – Retrouvious
Splash back Tiles – Cement Tiles
Vintage crates used as bookshelves – Bailey’s Home
Vintage West German Ceramics – Homeplace

Main bathroom
Chair – Homeplace
Sheepskins – Skye Skyns
Tiles – Mosaic Del Sur

Main Bedroom
French Industrial Unit – eBay
Trio of Tealight Holders – Homeplace
Vintage West german Ceramics – Homeplace
Bedlinen – La Redoute
Wall paint – Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball
Light – Homeplace
Photographic Art – Midnight Modern Series by Tom Blachford
Hanging Bedside Lights – Sofie Refer 

Ida’s Bedroom
Vintage bed frame – eBay
Star Wall Stickers – Ferm Living
Wall paint – Dusky Rose by Sanderson
Bedlinen and Curtain – John Lewis

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