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Name: Rachel, Jonathan, and three children
Location: Essex, United Kingdom
Size: 900 square feet
Type of Home: Bungalow
Years Lived In: 18 months, owned
When we came across this two-bedroom 1950s bungalow for sale we weren’t necessarily looking to move. I always kept an eye out for a potential project with a big garden, so I was excited when I saw this property come up for sale on the same road that we already lived on. Before we could even view it, we were told it had sold. I was disappointed but moved on. A few weeks later we got a call to say that the bungalow was back on the market and asked if we would like to view it. We jumped at the chance! The garden was love at first sight. It’s a large corner plot, with lots of established shrubs and trees, it even has a secret pathway behind the tall trees that our children were delighted to discover. We knew the bungalow itself needed work and investment to become a family home but would be worth it in the long run.
My Style: A mix of eclectic, vintage, and boho, with some mid-century modern. I like anything bamboo, wicker or rattan, and houseplants.
Which time periods/decades inspired your home’s design the most? I would say my style is very much inspired by 1970s. I love warm earthy tones, the use of pattern, and the quality and design of mid-century pieces. I own a lot of G-Plan furniture, from sideboards, highboards, and coffee tables, to our brown floral 1976 G-Plan Quinta sectional sofa suite. I found it on Facebook Marketplace, and despite it being over 400 miles away in Scotland, I was determined to buy it. The courier cost more than the sofa but it was worth it. It’s so comfortable and practical. The low level streamlined style of the suite works perfectly in our lounge/diner. The space isn’t huge, however the sofa helps to zone off the dining space without closing it in.
Favorite Element: The living room and adjoining dining room space is a favorite of mine; it’s where we spend our down time, with the view of the garden and the woods, it’s really relaxing. The space is filled with original pieces collected over the years from all over the country. The orange and brown tones from the walls to the furniture and rugs, give it such a cozy and relaxing vibe, and I love how the two spaces work with each. I even managed to find dining chairs in the same original fabric as the sofa!
Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge for us was downsizing from the four-bedroom chalet bungalow we renovated in 2017 to a two-bedroom bungalow. We had to sell a lot of furniture (and house plants!) keeping only our favorite pieces. We moved in the summer of 2020; my husband was working from home, and I was home-schooling our (then) two children. We also found out that we were expecting our third baby so space was an issue. We decided to build my husband an office in the garden so that he could work from home. We also engaged with an architect to discuss ideas for renovating the bungalow sooner rather than later due to our new arrival on the way! However, with the pandemic prompting people to spend on home improvement, and impacting supply chains, plus the rising cost of inflation, our next challenge is going to be maximizing the potential of the property.
Proudest DIY: We haven’t done a great deal of DIY since we moved in other than painting a couple of walls in the living room, as we are awaiting a renovation on our home in the near future. For now we are enjoying the space as it is and using our furniture to make the place feel like home. I love the rattan screen, which I have put behind our bed as a headboard; it has changed the feel of the room and given it that retro vibe without even opening up a tin of paint.
Biggest Indulgence: Probably building the garden office for my husband; both an indulgence and a necessity. Luckily my husband was happy to continue the retro decor in there too. We kitted the space out with a huge teak sideboard found locally on Facebook Marketplace, a retro sunburst wall clock, and a saddleback lounge chair, as well as lots of plants. It’s a cozy space and has a lovely view.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? It’s not unique, but because our home is quite small and being a family of five now, we make use of the outside space as much as possible. In the spring and summer months we enjoy cooking and eating in the garden. We open up the living room bay doors and basically move our lounge on to the patio. Because of the shape of the plot, there are lots of nooks and crannies and places to sit and relax.
Where are your favorite places to buy or find vintage home decor? My favorite places to buy vintage pieces range from online such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace to drifting around car boot sales and charity shops. I used to love going to auctions with my mum as child, which has probably influenced my love for retro and vintage.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My approach to our home is to source as much as I can second hand before I consider buying new, not only because it more sustainable but often it is better quality. I enjoy the process of finding something unique and not as readily available. Our home is a work in progress, always evolving with pieces that we have collected over the years, it’s a process that can’t be rushed, so take the time and enjoy finding those special pieces as you go.
Thanks Rachel and Jonathan!
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
This piece is part of Throwback Month, where we’re revisiting vintage styles, homes, and all kinds of groovy, retro home ideas. Boogie on over here to read more!