1st November 2018
With more than 15,000 followers, Lucy Kemp’s restoration journey over the past year has become an Instagram phenomenon. At her beautiful Harborne home, she talks everything from paint to parquet walls and shares the lessons she’s learned along the way.
Comprised of an eclectic mix of antique chandeliers, plush soft furnishings and Art Deco influences with a contemporary twist (not forgetting a fun underground wine cellar), this gorgeous Victorian home is a result of years of planning, sourcing and hard work from interiors social media influencer Lucy Kemp and husband Dan.
After meeting Dan on a skiing holiday, Lucy made the decision to uproot and start a life
in Birmingham where they rented for a few years before buying a two-bed terraced house in 2011.
While living in their first home, it soon became clear to both Lucy and Dan that the outdated and seemingly neglected property directly across the road was actually the house for them. After patiently waiting until 2015 for their dream home to go on the market, there was no question about putting in an offer when it finally did.
“We’d seen that the house was in disrepair, but we bid the highest we could afford because we loved it so much and luckily we got it. It actually took two years for the sale to complete so we just sat over the road looking at it. At the time it was really frustrating, but in hindsight those two years were really useful as they allowed us to really plan so we could get to know the space.”
Almost immediately after getting the keys, the house was ripped apart from the roof down, with some parts being completely rebuilt, including a large kitchen extension at the rear end of the building. But despite managing such a huge project, which is still underway over a year on, Lucy points out that small plans early on can be just as important as larger architectural decisions.
“It’s really important to plan your interiors at the beginning. Even tiny things like where you’re putting light switches and plug sockets to avoid having messy wires everywhere. Planning the flow of your space is crucial, and most importantly you should think about how the space works for your lifestyle.
We knew that we’d need big furniture in an open space like this and that’s where our SITS sofa, which we found at Design Quarter, and concrete kitchen island work perfectly. I’m also very excited to finally spend Christmas here entertaining the family, so that’s why our large dining table was another key feature. It was actually left over from the roof timber during renovation, which is a nice touch.”
Lucy quickly began documenting her journey on Instagram, which gradually escalated and has since resulted in her working alongside some highly-influential industry names.
“Before we started the renovation I used social media but I wasn’t involved in the interiors community. It’s incredible to be a part of – you can speak directly to interior designers and people are happy to give advice, not to mention there’s so much inspiration.”
Lucy has an old school approach to discovering her own personal interior style – borrowing ideas from the most unexpected locations.
“The best place for inspiration is bars and hotels, because you can be a lot bolder. We wanted our bedroom to feel like a boutique hotel and we’ve got a parquet wall which was inspired by a bar in Birmingham. We saw it and thought it looked really cool, then did a bit of research on Pinterest.”
Then there’s the shopping. “I just buy things I like because when you take on a renovation, that’s your opportunity to put your own stamp on it. You’ll always regret compromising and shying away from being as bold as you’d like to be. You shouldn’t play it safe. If you’ve done something and it doesn’t work, you can paint over it and adapt it.”
And this doesn’t just apply to homeowners, there are plenty of ways to reinvent your space without causing damage to a rented property.
“It can actually be easier when you’re renting because you’ve got a blank canvas. Accessories and lighting make a huge difference to the space. I love lampshades, throws, vintage glassware and most recently, plants. I don’t think you should be afraid to change things around in rentals, because something as simple as a rug can completely transform a room. It’s about taking the time to find empty corners of a room that can be styled up.”
But for Lucy, it’s always been vital to make decisions based on what she loves, rather than choosing pieces that fit into the limitations of a specific theme, which is clear from one glance inside her home. Each room is a combination of quirky pieces full of character mixed with modern elements which she’s picked up along the way. She’s managed to find the perfect balance between current trends, timeless classics and functional must- haves, while maintaining a homely feel.
“Do your research, enjoy it and make the effort to visit shops and browse what’s out there. Moodboarding can also be really useful and effective because you start to discover threads and themes that you may not have already realised. ”
And don’t be afraid to go against the grain by opting for unusual choices such as navy wall paint or bold furniture. “People have a misconception that if you use dark shades it makes everything look small, but I think you should play up to having a cosy room. There’s also no rule against fusing periodical pieces – in my living room, we have a traditional mirror with a contemporary MADE.COM lamp and it works really well. ”
From the Minton tiles in the hallway that were a feature before the restoration, to the retro drinks trolley that’s at the heart of the couple’s parties, Lucy’s eye for detail combined with a passion for interiors and naturally creative air means this is far more than an Instagram show home. It’s a place where memories are made.
GET THE LOOK
1. MADE.COM Primrose accent chair, £399 2. Heal’s Cushion, £49 3. ilite New Works concrete pendant, £139 4. BoConcept Sheepskin throw, £179 5. Calligaris Tray, £152