Designers Reveal The Truth Behind Their Picture-Perfect Homes
October 4, 2017
Do you covet some of the homes you see on Houzz and on your favourite design blogs? Do you feel as if you’ll never manage that level of style perfection in your own place?
Here’s a treat for you: these popular UK design bloggers and interiors experts have been kind enough to reassure us that, though their homes may look perfect to us in photos, they grapple with the same problems that lots of us have at home too.
Photo by elliotwalsh.co.uk
“We have lived here for seven years. We have had about six baths.”
Kate Watson-Smyth of Mad About the House is an interior style consultant and personal shopper, an award-winning blogger and a journalist based in London.
“So this is the gorgeous freestanding tub in front of the fireplace that totally plays into the myth of the perfect luxurious bathroom. When we moved into this house, my husband decided that he would spend Saturday afternoons lying in the bath, gazing out of the window at the trees behind while listening to Radio 4 and drinking wine.
“However, what you probably can’t quite tell from this picture is that it is a short bath – 150 centimetres as opposed to 170 centimetres. This is because there wasn’t quite enough room for a freestanding bath as well as a loo and separate shower. That is the first thing.
“The second thing is that we were easily persuaded that a pop-up [overflow valve] would be a good idea. This means that because the bath is short and the pop-up plug is in the middle – and not at one end – as soon as you try and slide from sitting to almost lying (it’s too short to fully lie), you sit on the pop-up… and all the water starts running out.
“There are two morals to this story: either buy a full-length bath or make sure the plug is at one end (the foot) and never buy one with a pop-up. We have lived here for seven years. We have had about six baths between us. Don’t believe everything you see in the pictures.”
Photo by Chris Snook
“Two teenage daughters… create lots of mess!”
Jessica Zoob, an artist based in Sussex, is a blogger and winner of an Elle Decoration British Design Award.
“This house is designed like a ship, with places to hide everything. For example, I have pull-down double beds in cupboards and pullout beds that look like sofas, as well as what you can see in these two rooms (including storage under the benches at the end). And I have included lots of huge cupboards for a reason. I have two teenage daughters, and they create lots of mess! I also designed the house so it could sleep 14 kids, as the girls love to host sleepovers. Not always sure how clever that was, especially the morning after a big party…
“It’s a happy house, but it is always great to have lots of places to hide girlie clutter – especially just before a photo shoot!”
Photo by The Lovely Drawer
“I literally can’t keep any plants alive.”
Teri Muncey is a London designer, illustrator, stylist, crafter and blogger at The Lovely Drawer.
“People comment on how many plants we have in our new living room, and how lovely and healthy they look, but what you can’t tell from this photo is that they’re all artificial because I literally can’t keep any plants alive.
“I’ve tried and failed on numerous occasions, and had to accept that it was a recurring cycle that could only be broken by changing my tactics and embracing an easier life!
“The only real plant in this shot is the tallest one, tucked away in the corner of the room and currently well-hidden by the luscious artificial one in front. So many of the leaves are brown, and we’ve been told it’s rotting from the inside out! When in doubt, fake it.
Photo by Alison Hammond Photography
“Doesn’t everyone have a tile disaster?”
Egon Walesch is an award-winning interior designer and blogger with bases in southeast London and Ireland.
“This is about a tile disaster (doesn’t everyone have a tile disaster?) Maybe not a disaster, but it is a little-known secret. When designing our garden room extension, we decided to put in some rather lovely encaustic tiles in shades of grey on the floor, as it leads out to the garden. We spent quite a while working out the right way to lay the tiles, which we ordered from Spain, so that you got the best view of the pattern from within the room.
“Unfortunately, the builders made some mistakes in the preparation of the floor, and after a few months, the tiles started to crack. The builders admitted their blunder and undertook to replace them, so the tiles, as well as underfloor heating and [mortar], had to come out so they could replace it all. Having already lived through the whole building project, we couldn’t face being there while they did all this again, so we booked a holiday and handed over the keys to the builders.
“This time, they did it properly, and we haven’t had any problems… The only thing is, they didn’t lay the tiles in the same way as before, and we weren’t there to tell them about optimising the pattern. Now the best view of the pattern is from the garden outside! We didn’t have the heart to tell the builders. And even I couldn’t contemplate doing it a third time.”
Photo by Forward Features
Styling this room was so stressful, “we nearly broke up.”
David White and Mark Russell of Forward Features are award-winning design bloggers based in London.
“This shot was taken with a huge pile of clothes behind us kicked out of sight,” White says. “It was a styled shoot we did in our new flat in Peckham, and involved us taking a lot of our previous furniture and accessories away and replacing them with new pieces. For the shoot, we also moved a coat rail out with lots of heavy coats – and the whole rail collapsed… hence the pile of clothes not in the shot. We nearly broke up, and it was very stressful.”
Photo by Making Spaces
“We’re saving up” to finish the floor.
Based in Leeds, England, Karen Knox is an interiors blogger at Making Spaces and provides design services specialising in ideas for smaller budgets.
This space was reconfigured and redesigned as part of our loft extension. We removed a wall, and now what was the box room is this open-plan office. But there are still traces of the old layout visible, as this room has one carpet, and the landing has a different carpet. We also have a split where the old door threshold was and a bit where the old floorboards stick out. You can just see in the photo (bottom right) where we really need to have the entire landing space re-carpeted. We’re saving up to have it re-carpeted.”