Back to basics

PUBLISHED: 14:24 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:44 20 February 2013

The bedroom

The bedroom

Paula Depledge has turned an Eighties-built house, complete with brown tiles, pink walls and friezes, into an uncluttered 21st century home. Here she lets Tessa Harris into her style secrets

What a difference two decades make in terms of style and designs. Although the six-bedroom house on the Berkshire/Surrey border that Paula Depledge and her husband Peter bought in 2005 was just 20 years old at the time, it appeared incredibly dated.

Explains Paula: "We fell in love with the look of the house but it just needed bringing up to date. It was very '80s; dark brown tiling, rose pink carpet throughout and floral friezes. The whole house felt very pink. All the wardrobes were white with pink detail and crystal door knobs. It needed de-cluttering and brightening up." And this is where Paula could put her design flair into play.

"I'd always had an eye for colour and detail and recently I decided to move it from a hobby to a career," says Paula, who has a qualification in interior design and her own business, House to Home. She continues: "The key is to understand the main function or purpose of any room. You need to keep it de-cluttered to achieve an open and spacious feeling."

Paula has certainly achieved this sense of spaciousness throughout by painting most of the walls in a neutral colour. "For a feeling of space, even in the smallest of houses, always keep the whole house painted in a similar hue", says Paula. So, for example, she recommends not painting each room a different colour like red or blue, this will create individual small rooms. "Always paint the whole house in a similar colour but vary the depth of shade to create the ambience required," she advises.

In her large sitting room she stripped back the pink wallpaper and substituted it for a neutral colour, complimented with a bold wallpaper design. She did, however, leave the dado rail. "That's because we had such a large expanse of wall and if we painted it all one colour it wouldn't have given the warmth we wanted." At the time the couple thought the design of the Harlequin wallpaper was very bold. "But now we're used to it, we don't think it's daring enough," smiles Paula. The limestone Chesney style fireplace adds all the character needed to make this large sitting room a warm and cosy place to relax.

According to Paula, the six-bedroom house deserved a larger kitchen. She explains: "We are north-facing and the kitchen was quite small and brown, so it was destined to be a very dark room."

The couple consequently reduced the size of the large, adjoining utility room and added on a garden room to create a huge, open plan kitchen. "We live in it now," says Paula.

Local firm Sherbourne Conservatories built the garden room in timber and Paula is delighted. "We tried to keep to local suppliers. As long as they were going to be competitive, we felt we would receive a better service from them and they would understand the detail we wanted to put into this house, whereas if we went for a national company we thought we might have had to fit in with their design ideas."

The ivory coloured Crown Imperial kitchen units came from Oakwood Bespoke Kitchens, another Camberley company, and again, Paula's eye for detail came into play. "One thing I tried to do is keep all the lines running the same way. All the handles on the drawers and cupboards are parallel. These are just little design features, but they make a difference," she says.

The family room is one of Paula's favourites. It's small and cosy, with an eclectic mixture of furnishings and accessories. "I love it because it's filled with bits and pieces from our previous home that didn't quite fit anywhere else in the house, but it works. It's so cosy."

Again, one wall is accented with Harlequin wallpaper and the leather sofa, the curtains and the wool rug are from Marks and Spencer.

In the dining room the round mahogany table, chairs and sideboard are all from MultiYork's Chateau range. Again the walls are in a neutral, parchment colour and the darker mushroom of the curtains is in perfect contrast.

Upstairs in the master bedroom, Paula has put colour to dramatic effect by using splashes of crimson to accessorise. She explains: "This room was very white and pink. It just needed clearing out, opening up and neutralising. The first attempt was to paint the walls in parchment, and dress the room in cream and gold, but I think I've warmed it up further by bringing in the red and chocolate accessories which make it cosier."

The adjoining bathroom originally had two basins and was decorated in pink and avocado. "We knew the bathrooms would cost most because of the plumbing. We had to take them back to their shells so we kept the cost down by installing white Ideal Standard suites and spent our budget on the taps and shower unit giving that luxurious feel," says Paula. All the bathrooms were dressed with Axor Hansgrohe taps and shower attachments with limestone on the walls and floors.

The larger guest room was originally two bedrooms, but Paula knocked them into one and took out the fitted wardrobes, replacing these with freestanding drawers and a wardrobe to create an individual feel to the room.

Paula's favourite bedroom is the small guest room. It has a distinctive Cornish ambience to it that sets it apart from the rest of the house.

"Design has come a long way and you do not need a huge budget to achieve some very attractive 'show home' results," she says. "You just need to know how to be able to put the right combinations together." That is something that Paula has done with great skill in her own home.

Visit Paula's website at

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