Colour, pattern and touches of kitsch are the order of the day in Delphine and John Armitage’s semi-detached home in New Malden, London. Built in the 1930s, the five-bedroom property gave the couple and their children the chance to upsize from inner-city London living.
'We moved in 2013,' says Delphine, 'and loved how much space we got for our money in comparison with where we were before, as well as the fact it’s just seconds from a train station. Shuttling back and forth into the centre was so easy when we were commuting.'
When they moved in, the property was in excellent condition, but Delphine was keen to add her own stamp. 'Everything was a bit neutral and bland,' she remembers, 'so we redecorated and extended the kitchen to connect it to the open-plan living and dining room.'
But working to a tight budget meant the couple weren't able to fit a new kitchen straight away. Instead, they focused their efforts on adding a large patio to make the garden an extra 'room' of the house, which proved invaluable during lockdown.
'Afterwards, we extended into the loft,' continues Delphine. 'We added two bedrooms and bathrooms, then we repainted the whole house. Finally, in 2021, we had saved up enough to create the kitchen of our dreams, replacing the floors, rewiring and installing stylish new cabinetry.'
Having lived for eight years with a kitchen that didn't work for her, Delphine knew exactly what improvements needed to be made – one of which was to group the storage at the back of the room as it didn’t get much light.
'By organising the kitchen in this way, it means that everything is accessible and there’s not much travelling around when cooking,' she says. 'I'm all about the detail and I'm glad I spent so much time poring over the floorplans, as there isn't a thing I'd change about the layout.'
Naturally creative, Delphine admits that she is the one with the vision, while John initially balks at the idea of getting on board with another project – reining her ideas back to an 'acceptable level'.
'In the end,' she says, 'everyone is happy.' As you'd expect of a professional home stager, Delphine is brimming with ideas, finding inspiration from magazines and Instagram, for everything from a clever kitchen configuration or beautiful wallpaper print to an unusual piece of furniture: 'I'm always on the lookout for ideas to make the space work better for our family.'
One particular success in this regard is the open-plan living and dining room, which is designed to ensure that Delphine can keep her eye on the children, and John can work there in the evening, while still feeling a sense of connection. The built-in office is another smart solution. Formerly a sewing area for Delphine's previous business, the units were made bespoke and backed with panelling on the back wall to give it a professional edge.
The whole arrangement has been painted in a rich blue to tie it in with the rest of the room. 'It took two of us three solid days to paint,' laughs Delphine. Upstairs has been given a light touch. 'We hardly did any work on the first floor,' admits Delphine. 'Just a lick of paint, some plants and accessories. The bathroom for the girls on the top floor is small, but I tell them constantly how lucky they are to have their own space at the top of the house!'
Delphine sourced most of the furniture from her family in France when she first moved to the UK over 15 years ago. 'I was totally broke and it was much cheaper to pay for shipping than buy new,' she explains. 'It turned out to be the best idea as we still use most of those pieces to this day. The sofa in the living room was a splurge – it's a completely unreasonable size – but it's been one of our best buys.'
Elsewhere, Delphine has focused on installing built-in furniture, as she thinks it looks good and makes the most of the space. Her weakness? 'Accessories,' she admits. 'Usually from Oliver Bonas, H&M Home and Think Vintage, a local clearance place that practically gives stuff away...'
On warm days, the family love to congregate on the patio. 'We're out there as soon as there's a ray of sunshine,' says Delphine. 'And as we have big sail shades, we don't bake. We've hosted so many lunches with friends here – it's a great space to entertain while the kids play on the grass.'
Considered planning combined with a stylish mix of retro shades, nostalgic prints and vintage finds ensures that this is a characterful space that puts family first, while the long-dreamed-of kitchen works hard as the heart of the home amid the hustle and bustle of the busy household.
Delphine's top tip for a harmonious home? 'It's your house so choose things that make you happy no matter what anyone else thinks,' she says. 'Because ultimately, it's your safe space.' Explore the rest of the house...
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