Rarely you come across a home that can be inspirational and make you rethink your own interior design ideas and assumptions, but arguably this unique property in Penarth is one of them.
Recently crowned as the Cardiff winner in the BBC One property show the Best House in Town , the three-bed semi-detached home has been lovingly restored by interior designer Miffy Shaw and builder husband Gareth.
“I don’t know why I’ve won to be honest, I just do what I do, but I’m really proud and thankful,” she said.
“People have said they think I’ve won because my house is unique but that’s quite a weird thing to hear because surely everybody’s house is unique.”
So, what makes Miffy’s house so visually inspiring, funky and functional and a winner and how can we all steal her style?
Here, she shares her tips for creating an award-winning home.
1. Find inspiration everywhere
The interior designer is very clear on where people can find her style inspiration: everywhere.
Miffy says: “Everything influences me. If a girl walks past my in Tesco and I spot a handbag or jacket in a nice color or material or we go out for food in a cafe and they’ve done great lighting, I take note.”
The 39 year-old mum says there’s no better inspiration than nature itself, the colours and textures she sees just taking their French bulldog Tugboat out for walks.
2. Tie the look together
To create flow within your home, then there need to be particular elements running through the property to tie the ‘look’ together, but Miffy says that doesn’t mean you have to be shackled by your style.
Colours, textures, surfaces, flooring and lighting can all assist in bringing harmony to a room and a home, even if your interior design style is eclectic.
For example the photo display in the hallway and up the stairs, although at first glance may seem random, each item’s spot has been carefully considered.
Even though the frames are different styles and sizes, they are all curated under the banner of gold, black and wood, so giving the display a subtle continuity.
Thinking about flow and continuity before a decorating can be a worthwhile step, if you are patient enough to do the research and source ideas that work for your home.
For example, in Miffy’s home the consistent use of flooring, texture, pattern and colour in key areas all assist to create a structured design journey through the home, including the use of navy and wood in the kitchen/diner and the garden, visually connecting the two areas.
3. Don’t be afraid of dark colours
One aspect of Miffy’s house that many homeowners may be a little nervous to copy is the use of dark colours.
Incorporated into a colour scheme successfully, dark colours can add drama, create atmosphere and act as a striking background to key interior design features.
One stand out example in Miffy’s home is the main bedroom, where the stormy, dark grey is used continuously throughout the room.
It’s on the walls, the ceiling, the floor and the cupboards. It creates a strong contrasting backdrop for the collection of metallic mirrors, gold leaf design light fitting and warm wood furniture.
Miffy says: “I’m obsessed by dark and moody colours, creating atmosphere. In the bedroom I found the wallpaper and it all developed from that.”
4. But break them up a little
In daughter Frankie’s room the dark accent colour is burgundy but Miffy has used it only above the picture rail and on the ceiling, creating a cosy feel to the room but without overwhelming it.
The mono, pattern wallpaper below the picture rail allows the room to breathe and for Frankie’s treasured possessions to take centre stage.
The navy kitchen / diner continues the dark colour theme, but Miffy has been clever to break it up with a variety of tactile textures, light colours and eye-catching curios.
She says it took some courage using dark colours, but laughs: “We thought, if the worst comes to the worst and we don’t like it, we can always paint over it!”
5. Source reclaimed materials to decorate well on a budget
Miffy and husband Gareth have been very budget clever with interior design of their home.
The table is made from leftover scaffolding boards, built onto the legs of a snooker table found whilst rummaging through a reclamation yard.
The chairs are all mismatched, each with its own design story, that have been given to the couple or found in charity shops. Ideal for a family home, there’s no drama when they get bashed and disrespected.
The dining table scaffolding boards appear again as the tactile structural element of the kitchen island.
6. Use industrial materials — but soften them with other materials
When it came sourcing a kitchen worktop, the couple were hoping for marble but it wasn’t in the budget.
The resourceful pair decided to look into the possibility of using concrete, long before it became accessible to standard suburban homes.
Miffy explains: “I wanted different textures and concrete in a semi was quite a new concept back then. I love it, it’s rough and rugged. It was accessible for us; we couldn’t afford marble so this was perfect.
“I designed the bathroom double sink too and the countertop company had a go at trying to make it. It was the first one they made, now they do them for Nandos!”
The industrial light fittings, scaffolding, metal and exposed brick wall are all softened by Miffy’s introduction of soft textures and tactile furnishings.
She says: “I would describe my style as eclectic, sort of DIY rustic. It’s organic in that I love wood, stone, leather and natural materials like rattan.”
Wool, wood, china, glass, house plants and flowers all add to the softening accessories and furnishings and ensure this home continually looks warm, inviting and comfortable.
The couple have had many inspiring design ideas whilst doing up their property, but one of the most inventive is probably moving the kitchen door further into the hallway, so the under stairs space could be incorporated into the kitchen design.
The continual use of the same flooring from the kitchen/diner out onto the patio means that there is a visual flow through from the indoor to the outdoor spaces, even when the bi-fold doors are closed.
Even wood log storage has been considered, with a long, eye-catching alcove carved into the lounge chimney breast as a place to pop the firewood.
All genius ideas, and all ideas you can pinch for your home.
7. Plan your look — but don’t be afraid to change
And when planning a room makeover, it’s all about the planning, isn’t it? Yes, but Miffy also believes that a room’s personality should continue to grow.
She explains: “When I think I know what I would like in a room, I have found my influences, I will start making mood boards and initially find different versions of the look I want on Pinterest.
“But I’m more of a grower, things come to me slowly and ideas start growing and changing.
“All the rooms have started from different inspirations with the core being that you have to love it.
“So in the bedroom I found the wallpaper and it all developed from that.”
In daughter Frankie’s room Miffy knew she wanted burgundy and mustard, but the inspiration for the wallpaper came from the pattern of a puffer fish.
She says: “It’s a growing process I don’t do it all in one go, I start collecting things.
“So I suggest people begin with a favourite picture, a lovely rug or a comfy sofa, use whatever you love to inspire you, and it all comes from that – pick out different colours and textures from your beloved item and build it from there.
“The key is to make it personal to you.
“My house doesn’t usually look like this, it usually has an ironing board in it, washing hanging around; it’s real life, but I fill it with the stuff that I love – surely that’s what your home’s all about?”