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In East Sussex, A Family’s Old Victorian Breathes New Life

by Sofia Tuovinen

In East Sussex, A Family's Old Victorian Breathes New Life | Design*Sponge “Once you’ve experienced an old property — despite its numerous problems like damp, failing walls — it’s hard to imagine yourself living anywhere else,” Poonam Sharma says. For the past 10 years, she and her partner Paul have lived in a Victorian villa in Hove, East Sussex in the UK. Although the couple still has ongoing house projects, they have transformed their home drastically over the last decade, highlighting period details while adding personal touches to each space. When Poonam and Paul’s son Zachary was born five years ago, Poonam left the corporate world of HR to focus on family. About a year ago, she wanted to try something new and started her blog, Modern Luxe, where she shares her home’s renovation along with completed makeovers.

When Poonam and Paul first moved in, they started off with painting their house in neutral colors. They wanted to live in and experience each space before deciding on colors and moods. “We talked about dark colors and as we’ve got really high ceilings we can get away [with] it, without losing the sense of space. “Initially Paul wasn’t convinced, so whilst he was away on a business trip, I painted the living room in Farrow & Ball ‘Railings.’ [Paul] didn’t speak to me for a couple of hours when he got back, but he loves it now and was more than happy for us to go dark in the bedroom too!” Poonam shares. Today, the family’s home includes various hues that continue beautifully from one space to the next, making the rooms feel both unique and connected at the same time. “Each of the rooms flows into each other, bringing a sense of unity, which we love,” Poonam explains.

Although Poonam and Paul now feel like they have a house they can proudly call home, they are still working on changes that will ultimately allow them to spend more quality time together as a family. Poonam has plans to change some things here and there, starting with the living room. She explains, “When we first bought the house, we didn’t have Zachary. But now [the house] needs to function as a family space. And I think on the whole it does, but there are a few rooms like the living room that look great but just don’t feel quite right as a family space. So that’s the next room on my hit list.” Scroll down to see how Poonam and Paul have created a home they love. For updates to the living room and the rest of the family’s home, there’s Poonam’s Instagram. —Sofia

Photography by Molly Seybold / Cathy Pyle 

Image above: Adding shutters was one of the first things that Poonam did when she and Paul moved in. “Whilst they enhance all the original features, it also gives our house a modern feel, which is one of the reasons we love them,” Poonam says. 

In East Sussex, A Family's Old Victorian Breathes New Life | Design*Sponge
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The couple wanted the living room to be a space where they could relax in the evening.
“We love the contrast between the dark walls and white ceiling, highlighting the original coving,” Poonam explains. An upcoming project is to update the living room to work better for their family of three.

In East Sussex, A Family's Old Victorian Breathes New Life | Design*Sponge
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An original Marcel Breuer chair has been placed centrally in the window bay. The walls are painted in “Railings” by Farrow and Ball.

In East Sussex, A Family's Old Victorian Breathes New Life | Design*Sponge
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Poonam and Paul wanted their kitchen to feel airy and bright, and opted for white lower cabinets to achieve their vision.

In East Sussex, A Family's Old Victorian Breathes New Life | Design*Sponge
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The couple added bespoke glass doors to the back of the house to let in more natural light. They also left an original brick wall exposed to add contrast to the white space.

In East Sussex, A Family's Old Victorian Breathes New Life | Design*Sponge
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The dark walls continue into the study. Poonam chose “Night Blue Arch” by Valspar as the paint color.

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Poonam in the study. The vintage-style poster and armchair are both from John Lewis, the tulip table designed by Eero Saarinen was bought at a vintage fair.

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Poonam and Paul wanted to highlight original features throughout the house. In the upstairs hallway, they emphasized the ceiling height by painting the walls in Farrow and Ball’s “Plummet,” while keeping the ceiling white.

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The key learning for me has been to understand how you want each room to feel,” Poonam says. “For example, we wanted [our bedroom to be] a place were we would relax and it felt cozy, so we painted it dark. Each room in your house will have a different feel and it’s key to understand how you can make this happen with your style and interiors.”

In East Sussex, A Family's Old Victorian Breathes New Life | Design*Sponge
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The large mirror in the bedroom is another antique fair find. Poonam fell in love with the nude paintings while on holiday in South Africa, and persuaded the owner of the hotel she was staying at to sell them to her. “He finally agreed on the last day of our holiday!” Poonam shares.

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Poonam and Paul wanted to create a bathroom with a modern and glamorous feel. The geometric floor tile gives the space the desired character and contrast.

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The couple chose golden taps from Vado for a luxurious feel.

In East Sussex, A Family's Old Victorian Breathes New Life | Design*Sponge
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Five-year-old Zachary’s bedroom was recently revamped with new jungle wallpaper.

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Poonam got her son involved in the process of updating his bedroom. “Zachary absolutely loves animals and dinosaurs  — anything with more than two legs. Sometimes I think he likes animals more than his own parents!” Poonam jokes. “I showed him a couple of animal wallpapers and guess what, he chose the most dramatic and expensive one! Not sure where he gets that from…” The jungle wallpaper is by Bien Fait.

SOURCE LIST

Entryway
Paint – Farrow & Ball, “Plummet”

Living Room
Paint – Farrow & Ball, “Railings”

Kitchen
Artwork – Dave White

Bathroom
Gold taps – Vado
Geometric floor tiles – Mosaic Factory

Main Bedroom
Paint – Valspar, “Tempest Teapot”
Artwork – bought from a hotel in Cape Town

Zachary’s bedroom
Wallpaper – Bien Fait
Bedding – La Cerise Sur la Gateau

Study
Paint – Valspar, “Night Blue Arch”

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