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Interiorssneak peeks

Creating A Forever Home in Kent, England

by Garrett Fleming

Crafting a Forever Home in Kent, England, Design*Sponge

We moved into our condo in December of last year, and I immediately knew the space was perfect for us. It wasn’t until this past July, however, that I truly fell in love with its lakefront location. By then summer had finally rolled in, and I was hitting the nearby beach a lot. One weekend I even went three separate times. The trips only lasted about an hour or two, but each time I walked the four minutes back to our house I felt unwound, refreshed, and was reminded of how extremely lucky we were to live there. We had found the best of two worlds: a slick, city home and a beachy retreat.

Print designer Catherine Nice, founder of Kitty McCall, and her husband Gary can also pinpoint when they realized their home in Kent, England was right for their family: “When we walked through the door on our first viewing with the kids (Ruby and Jude), they instantly loved the house and ran off to explore all the rooms and little nooks it had. It was at that moment [we] knew that this house would be our home,” they explain.

Since that initial walk-through a year and a half ago, Catherine and Gary have been slowly making changes to polish what they hope will be their “forever home.” They’ve torn up the carpet, painted walls and given nearly every room a touch of zippy wallpaper. Head to the kitchen, though, and you’ll encounter the most-impressive of the home’s renovations. Once awash in brown built-ins and “tired” tile, the room is now bright and cheerful thanks to a coat of blue paint, new flooring and a restored countertop.

The kitchen revamp took over six months to complete, but the couple says lengthy timelines such as that don’t worry them in the slightest. In fact, they’re in no hurry to finish any of their planned tweaks: “[The home] is definitely a long-term project that will be inspired by our growing children, their needs and ours,” Catherine and Gary say. If all goes as planned, the couple hopes the changes they make will, in the long run, result in a home their children will associate with their happiest memories. Garrett

Photography by Fiona Murray

Image above: Guests are always drawn to the brilliant, inviting sunlight that streams into and bounces about the living room. Catherine absolutely loves being in there, too. Oftentimes she can be found “sitting in the bay window with a cup of tea, watching the world go by.”

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Catherine and Gary’s home features an array of colors, but one hue pops up several times: blue. From the front door to the living room and bathrooms beyond, the color ties each room together and gives their house a cohesive narrative.

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The side table in the couple’s entryway houses a “collection of pots and vases,” but also opens up to become a card table.

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“We think of this house as our forever home; the one our children will associate with their childhood. It is definitely a long-term project that will be inspired by our growing children, their needs and ours.” – Catherine and Gary Nice

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The new velvet upholstery on the family’s “original G-Plan 1962 swivel chairs” makes them perfect for cozying into on family movie night.

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Catherine looks back fondly on the time she spent around her parents’ fireplace as a child. She’s particularly happy this home gives her children the same opportunity.

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Catherine painted the dining room blue so it would stand in striking contrast to the light and airy living area nearby. A picture ledge tops the room like a crown: “The picture ledge was already part of the room,” she begins, “so we decided to keep it and display all the different things we’ve collected over the years.”

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This may be the dining room, but Catherine tells us this table plays host to far more than just family dinners: “Our children can often be found here building [with] Lego(s), creating art or doing homework.”

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Before: The kitchen renovation took about six months to complete.

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After: Catherine’s own fabric design “Midnight Garden” enlivens a set of vintage dining chairs in the newly-remodeled kitchen.

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“Our favourite thing about our home is the way it feels light & bright even on the grey days.” – Catherine and Gary Nice

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“I love the Frida Kahlo picture in Ruby’s room. We’ve been reading Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst, [and] one of the women in the book is Frida Kahlo,” Catherine tells us. She says reading the book with Ruby and their subsequent conversations about historic female figures has been a priceless experience.

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This side of Ruby’s room is decked out in wallpaper Catherine designed for Milton & King. She says, “When I hung the paper [Ruby] said, ‘It’s the best paper in the world,’ and when I asked her why, she replied, ‘Because you made it, and I love you!'”

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“Overgrown” wallpaper from Catherine’s collaboration with Milton & King hangs in the bathroom.

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The “painter’s palette” chair in the guest room was one of Catherine’s first designs: “I created [it] as a designer for design studio Whiston and Wright, which was sold to Anthropologie,” she explains.

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Catherine and Gary purchased this neutral bed frame eight years ago in hopes that its adaptable design would continually complement their ever-evolving tastes. Sure enough, they’ve been able to restyle it in multiple ways without it feeling forced.

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A piece by Paul Gauguin hangs above the couple’s bed.

I fill our home with the colors, materials, textures, and shapes that make us feel happy and inspire our creativity as a family.

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Most evenings you’ll find Catherine and Gary sitting in their bedroom, each one catching the other up on the ins and outs of their day.

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Jude chose this to be his bedroom because it overlooks the home’s back garden: “He can look out and see all the wildlife that come and go which have included rabbits, foxes and all kinds of birds,” Catherine explains.

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Catherine used a collection of Jude’s drawings to create the upholstery for the pouf he’s sitting on above: “This is something I hope he’ll keep and [that will] one day have a place in his [own] home,” Catherine says.

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The home’s floor plan.

SOURCE LIST

Entryway
Front door paint – Mylands London “FTT-018”
Chest of drawers – antique
Artwork above chest – Kitty McCall
Aerial beach scene – William Stafford

Living Room
Sofa – John Lewis
G-Plan swivel chairs – eBay
Cushions – Kitty McCall, Fanny Shorter
Orange pouf – Sofa.com
Lighting – Buster + Punch
Blue lampshade – Kitty McCall
Rug – West Elm

Dining Room
Paint – Mylands London “Bond Street”
Bench – eBay
Stools – Kitty McCall
Lights – Buster and Punch
Large artwork – Bonnie + Clyde
Cream chairs – Ercol
Rug – IKEA

Kitchen
Paint – Mylands London “Bond Street”
Dining table, chairs – eBay
Chair upholstery – Kitty McCall

Ruby’s Room
Headboard – vintage
Green chest – Oliver Bonas
Frida picture – Rozslin J. Velez
Wallpaper – Kitty McCall for Milton & King

Bathroom
Paint – Mylands London “Bond Street”
Wallpaper – Kitty McCall for Milton & King

Catherine & Gary’s Room
Bed – Sofa.com
Pink chairs, wall lights – John Lewis
Throw – Anthropolgie
Lampshade, dressing table chair, artwork – Kitty McCall
Cushions – Josef Frank, Kitty McCall
Bedside tables – West Elm

Jude’s room
Curtains – Kitty McCall “Queen Palm”
Pouf – Kitty McCall

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