Real house: 8 design ideas we’re taking from this grey-themed house that’s anything but boring

Just when you thought gray interiors were getting a little the same, along comes a house that tears up the rulebook and presents you with a whole bunch of new inspiration.

Louise and Andy’s extended 1930s home is full of them, from the bold grey-green Shaker-style kitchen to the moody living room and elegant bedroom paneling – and when they showed us around, we picked up plenty of ideas that we can’t wait to share with you.

So whether you’re embarking on a home extension or just want some advice on changing your plan, read on – here’s how this couple did it.

Open-plan kitchen diner with dark gray-green Shaker kitchen, parquet flooring, industrial style dining table and benches, pink bar stools and folding doors to a terrace seating area

Kitchen, Fitzroy Shaker in Copse Green, second nature. Work plans, Granite EB. pink stools, dunelm. Herringbone LVT Flooring, Polyflor

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

1. Zoning really is the key to an open space


The owners Louise Colquhoun (@littlebitofnumberseven),
a performance leader for a housing association, his partner, Andy Mitchell, a kitchen fitter, their daughter, Savannah Mae, three, and cats Pippi and Mitsy
The property A 1930s three bedroom semi-detached house in Fatfield, Washington, Tyne & Wear
Project cost £41,000

Louise and Andy spent their first year redecorating and exposing the original brick fireplaces in the living room and master bedroom before work began on a four meter extension to create a larger kitchen diner with a living room. The adjoining pantry has also been divided into a laundry/laundry room and a shower room. “There was a veranda out back, but when it rained it felt like a greenhouse with the corrugated iron roof,” Louise explains. “It made sense to knock it down and create a more open space with a pitched roof and skylights.”

Zoning the space into four distinct zones was key to its success. “I really like the layout with a long table for entertaining, a bar for breakfast in the morning, a fire place for the winter and a play corner for Savannah”, explains Louise. “I love the shelves at the end of the island for Savannah to retrieve her books.”

Open-plan kitchen diner with dark gray-green Shaker kitchen, parquet flooring and folding doors to a terraced seating area

To try Slide and Bend for similar folding doors. Extractor, Luxair

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

2. Use paint to disguise your kitchen as a communal living space

Thanks to the clever use of paint, Louise and Andy’s kitchen seems to blend discreetly into the walls of the extension. The wall paint color has been matched with Valspar kitchen cabinets for a cohesive feel while shelves instead of wall cabinets further open up the space. “They look more modern and work better with the sloping ceiling,” says Louise.

A full-width opening to the garden further adds to the feeling of living space. “We opted for folding doors because they can be opened completely, so they are ideal for a party house,” says Louise. “And I can see Savannah in the garden when I’m in the kitchen. Sometimes I wish we had gone for Critalls, though – I love the look of them.

Folding doors leading to a gray area with rattan patio furniture

Garden furniture, B&Q. To try Bridge More for similar composite decking

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

3. Treat your garden like an extra room and plan it accordingly

The kitchen blends harmoniously into the cleverly zoned garden. “As it’s quite long, there’s a mini putting green at the end, two new Indian sandstone patios, and a composite deck next to the kitchen,” says Louise.

The new composite bridge gives the impression of being in another room. “Last summer, when you were allowed to mix, we had a silent disco here for my friend’s 40th birthday,” says Louise. ‘The garden is ideal for entertaining. I can’t wait to fire up the pizza oven and barbecue again for the holidays.

Entrance hall with gray paneling halfway up the walls, wooden flooring and a monochromatic gallery wall

Walls painted in Gray 03 and 06, Licking. Prints, I Am Fy. Mirror, Sainsbury’s

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

4. Use a bright palette in the hallway for a welcoming entrance

The hallway has gone through a few incarnations in search of character. “I painted it a dark Victorian green color with black stair treads, but it didn’t match the style of the house at all and we hated it,” says Louise. “Instead, we opted for a gray palette and a cream stair runner. I love how welcoming it is now.

Black painted living room with light beige floor, gray sofa, upholstered alcoves and brick fireplace wall

console yellow, Following. Lamp, B&Q. Wallpaper, Graham & Green

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

5. The living room is the place to go bold and dark – so give it a try

Louise experimented with a dark and dramatic living room up front. She’s painted the room three times since moving in, starting with a dark navy blue all the way to the picture rail before going bolder with an off-black hue throughout. “I like a mix of dark and light interiors depending on the room,” she says. “Left to his own devices, I don’t think Andy gets that dark, but he generally shares my thinking!”

The comfortable feel here makes it perfect for evening use. “I wanted it to be quite luxurious with velvet curtains, paneling and bold wallpaper,” she says. “It looks like an adult bedroom now. I have a few prints to put here but I change my mind: I’m going to decide to choose some because I think the room needs it.

Nursery with pretty pastel wallpaper, gallery wall, gold crib and jute rug on the floor with pink rocking horse

Crown Archives Woodland Wallpaper, wallpaper world. Baby cot, cottage toys. art prints, Melissa Badman, Etsy and H&M. Blanket, La Redoute. Rocking horse, Moms & Dads

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

6. Craft your little one’s room around something they really love

Louise and Andy’s daughter, Savannah, has one of the smallest rooms in the house, but the cute animal theme makes it cute and cozy. “At first, I painted the walls pink and the parquet white to give the illusion of space, but when she was very small, I put up the wallpaper”, explains Louise. ‘Savannah picked it herself because she loves the horses on it!’

Small bathroom with wall tiling and large marble floor, gold hardware and wooden effect suspended vanity unit

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

7. Get a high-end look on a budget with a little creative thought

The final room to be revamped was the bathroom, which has the hallmarks of a five-star hotel with marble-effect tiles, gold fittings and a dark ceiling with a chandelier. “It was a challenge because it’s quite small, but because Andy laid the floor, installed the radiator and did the plumbing, we saved a lot,” she says. The only trade the couple needed was a tiler.

“I wanted a hotel spa feel here, so I went with a dark ceiling and a chandelier,” says Louise. ‘At first I considered patterned tiles, but as this is a small space I thought a larger scale matte marble effect tile would work better. The gold shower screens were too expensive so we had one chrome powder coated by a local company for £50.

Bedroom with light gray paneling, cream bed, white and pink bedding and white painted brick fireplace

Walls painted in Hot Shale, Valspar. Bed, Hour 4 Sleep. Nightstand, Ikea. Crown, The dry decor

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

8. Use your favorite hotel as inspiration for your bedroom

Renovating the master bedroom was Louise’s first job after being inspired by a stay at the Hotel du Vin. Andy added character to the soothing space with elegant light gray panels.

Louise also worked with the existing fireplace. “As the masonry wasn’t very good, I just whitewashed it,” she said. The overall boutique vibe of the space makes it the perfect place to unwind after a busy day.

About Gertrude H. Kerr

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