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Paul Marshall

@kenilworth.house

Like refreshing a room for the new season, big effects can come from a small start. Meet Paul, a graphic designer whose impromptu house viewing kicked-started a mission to transform a dated 1911 home into a stunning home.

Customer case

Had you imagined taking on a renovation project?

No, not all. Richard and I bought Kenilworth House in June 2018. But to be honest, it wasn’t the property we intended to buy. We liked the original features and quirky room shapes, but the interior was very dated, and we knew we would want to make a lot of structural changes.

All of that said, we booked a viewing, simply to get it out of our system. We thought it’s gonna be filled with damp, it’ll smell, and we’ll run out screaming. In fact, before we’d even closed the door we knew this was going to be our home.

So how did the house win you over?

It had this great feeling about it. You could tell it had been a happy family home. Trudy, the seller, had lived there since the mid-sixties. And back then everyone was ripping out period features. She hadn’t, so we luckily have original cornicing, ornate ceilings and stained-glass door windows. The garden is south facing, and we’re in an our first-choice location, a ten-minute walk from the beach and so much more.

DESCRIBE YOUR RENOVATION PROCESS.

I hate doing the norm. And to be different takes planning. We started with the front lounge and the master bedroom, because they only needed cosmetic changes. But the kitchen took us over a year to plan. It’s not just a case of knocking down some walls and finding furniture.

With so much inspiration, especially from Pinterest and Instagram, it’s easy to go off track and to try to cram everything in. So, when embarking on a room, I have at least two spreadsheets, listing budgets, products and where we will source them. We also create inspiration boards.

Luckily, Richard and I share similar tastes and we don’t follow rules. Commenters have said that a decision we’ve made isn’t in keeping with the age of the house. We’re not custodians and this isn’t 1911. We try to find a nice balance between modern and traditional. And although we can’t be sure we will be here forever, we’re not thinking about resale value. We basically do what we like.

Peace candle
Retro look
Gallery wall
Living room with blue walls and green sofa
Close up of book and Imola

What is your favourite part of the house?

We love the new kitchen-lounge or day room as we call it. It’s changed the way we live. Being on the south side of the house, it’s light and bright. I can happily sit around the dining table all day long. It’s where I often work. I also knit and crochet there. The room was inspired by Arne Jacobsen’s Room 606 and it has a nice mid-century feel.

We’ve had many comments on the tiled chimney breast. There’s this myth that tiles are only for bathrooms and kitchens. They’re not. Our tiles are subtle, and alongside our walnut kitchen cabinets, and mix of contemporary and mid-century Danish furniture, they have helped create a seamless space that we use more than any other.

How do you style with so many items and yet avoid clutter?

Once I’ve styled a space, we then take a few pieces away. Because we nearly always include too many items. Like anyone else, I love seeing my new purchases on display. But you can always store something away and refresh your space by swapping it out later. I also spread items around the room but in unconventional places. So, for example, we’ve used wire to hang plants from our picture rails. It’s nothing radical, but little tweaks like this help give a space identity.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE?

I just started a new job as a brand manager for a luxury goods brand, so I’ll be putting a lot of time into developing that role. I also want to put the big house projects on hold and spend more time enjoying our home and our amazing location.

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