Welcome to our home, come on in. Truth be told, I have been resisting doing a home tour for a long time and the only reason for that is simply that I feel like Foxborough is still very much a work in progress. A few weeks ago a local homes magazine got in touch and in what seemed like the blink of an eye there was a photographer pottering around our house finding the best angles and the right light. There is nothing like the thought of having your home splashed over a magazine to get you to finish some of the odd jobs that had been almost forgotten about! We did what we could with the very little time we had (thanks to that pesky Aussie Flu) and on the day of the shoot I stood back and saw our home in the way that others see it. Sure we can still see the unfinished corners and the settlement cracks on the walls but our home is just that, a home and as such I think it will always be a work in progress. So, in celebration of the fact that our house was spotless for a day or two, I snapped some photos and thought I would bite the bullet and share them with you;
If you have been following my instagram for a while you will know that we built Foxborough and moved in just over two years ago. It was always our dream to build and it became a little bit of a hobby for me, searching for sites across the county, even though we had no intention of moving at that time. All of that changed when up popped a 2 acre site by the river, sheltered by the most beautiful forest and very close to a village that we had admired for a long time; hubby and I fell in love in a heartbeat. I do plan to share more of our building story but for now all I will say is that it was an exciting and emotional journey from start to finish and absolutely worth every single moment.
Disclaimer: I have discovered that photographing interiors is not my forte but I hope these pictures give you some idea of how our home looks and feels.
A Grand Entrance
The single most commented on aspect of Foxborough is the double height windows at our entrance. It was my dream to have a really bright home as we lived in a house that really struggled for natural light previously. The giant window remains my favourite feature of the exterior and the view that it gives us in the mornings often takes my breath away. We can see the sun rise over the fields directly in front of our lane and it really is stunning. Our entrance hall is fairly large and we wanted to make sure that the space didn’t feel cold and empty so one of the first decisions we made was to carpet our stairs. Speaking of the stairs, this is my absolute favourite part of our interiors. I have a thing for staircases and these stairs are my dream come true. Our walls are still just spray painted (by the builders) in Brilliant White as we are waiting for cracks to settle before we invest time and money into painting, one day we will paint properly but for now I am very happy with white walls throughout.
Part of our plan to make the entrance feel homely was to choose our flooring very carefully. I am not a huge fan of tiles, in the traditional sense of the word, but having invested in under floor heating we were strongly advised that tiling was the way to go. Here begins the hardest decision we had to make during the entire building process. I knew what I definitely didn’t want; no square tiles, no shiny floor, nothing too modern. My list of what I did want was considerably more vague; cosy, earthy, family friendly. It honestly was such a headache for those few weeks. Our contractor recommended a fabulous tile store and we wandered aimlessly for a few minutes before spotting the most gorgeous wood effect range of tiles. I was absolutely smitten but was sure that they would be way outside my budget, imagine my sheer joy when my favourite, non-slip, incredibly realistic looking wood effect tiles came in well under budget. I cried. Well I was heavily pregnant to be fair. I knew the tiles and carpet on the stairs would really warm that space whilst still making it feel bright and open.
The space itself was tricky to furnish. For the first few months we left it almost completely empty while we got a feel for the place. I picked up our side table from Gumtree for pennies. It was dark wood and just not at all in keeping with my vision so I bought a couple of tins of chalk paint and some new knobs and gave it a little makeover. Hubby spotted the boat shelf in our local furniture store and we knew it would be an interesting addition to our hallway. Aside from that our bench at the front door, Ikea’s finest, is entirely there for practical reasons (toddlers need somewhere to sit to put their shoes on) and our side units, again Ikeas finest, hide away all those scruffy shoes! I am a huge fan of TK Maxx and so most of our finishing touches are from there.
The Heart of The Home
Our kitchen truly is the heart of our home and we had such big plans for this space. We added on bi-fold doors to the dining room to maximise light and also create that gorgeous indoor/outdoor space for balmy summer nights. It is an investment that I am so delighted we made. I love that our kitchen and dining room is one big space. When we have guests over we never feel separated from them even when cooking and serving up meals. We spend a lot of time in this side of the house.
So our kitchen was designed by the incredibly talented Johanna Montgomery who took my very vague brief (I know, shocking) and literally made my dreams come true. We had no intention of having a coloured island but when Johanna suggested it we just loved the idea, three years later and this actually seems to be a trend, Johanna Montgomery, always ahead of the times. Our units are painted in a light grey, while the island is a deep blue, I adore the contrast. I really wanted the kitchen to compliment the outdoors and so a solid oak work bench was on my ‘must have’ list but for practical reasons we opted for a white marble top on the island. Another major thing I wanted was a double Belfast Sink, it was my dream for years and I will never forget seeing it go into our kitchen, I never imagined a sink could make me so happy. The greatest thing about our kitchen though is how practical it is; tonnes of storage, easily cleaned cupboards and a great big cooking surface.
Over to our dining area which is dominated by our huge farm house table. I will confess, I wasn’t keen on this table when we first saw it. I envisioned a lovely white or grey table with benches rather than chairs but after searching for months I realised that being able to seat as many people as possible was more important than the actual table. When we found this one my hubby absolutely loved it and while I loved the shape I really wasn’t keen on the varnished wood. It seated 12 people though and was a beautiful shape so I gave up the fight and instead added some white chairs to brighten it up. Now I have to confess I absolutely love this table. I love the contrast against the light grey floor and the way it looks like part of the outdoors, does that make sense?!
The log hanging above the dining table is a real conversation starter and I do have to give Mark full credit for this one. While the house was being build, he and my sister were kayaking down the river to check on the progress when they spotted this piece of driftwood. When Mark arrived home with it and asked if we could hang it in our dining room I laughed and basically said absolutely NO WAY! His vision is always much better than mine because he sneakily hung it one evening before we moved in and added some pretty fairy lights and it is now probably my favourite piece of décor. It adds so much character to the dining room and I have lost count of the amount of times we have been asked where we bought it.
Susanna’s little kitchen fits in perfectly here and I love that she can ‘cook’ along with me. I wanted this home to be a real family home and it certainly serves that purpose. We are big fans of a gallery wall and recently updated this little wall to help separate the kitchen and the dining space. Our dresser over at the other side is from M&S and is still one of my favourite purchases.
Our sun room is directly off kitchen and we made the decision not to put doors on here as we wanted the space to flow freely, especially for when we had little ones running around. It wasn’t our intention that this would become a playroom but that’s the thing about a home; the space evolves along with your family. I adore this room and the view from our end window; in fact, it was one of the things that sold these plans to me from the outset. The light in this room is just stunning and you can literally watch the seasons changing out this window, sometimes in Northern Ireland we see all four seasons in one day so that really is a treat! My first priority with this room was a big, comfy corner sofa. Woodgreen in Ballymena had this one in the window and I just knew it was perfect for our sunroom. We also wanted to add a bright and cheerful chair and so our swivel chair over in the corner ticked all the boxes. As you can see, the rest of the room is dedicated to toys and I imagine it will be for the foreseeable future. Storage was a priority in here as we wanted to be able to hide away the clutter but keep easy access to the fun stuff for Susanna, Ikea to our rescue once again! Toys and all, I love this room!
Mud & Laundry
In my list of features in a dream home a Mud Room was pretty high up; I’m not sure why, maybe it’s that love for American houses that’s done it! We have a little mud room off our kitchen which is perfect for when we come in caked in mud from little adventures and just off our mud room is the utility. Again, a nice utility room was a priority for me and Johanna Montgomery designed us some lovely little units to make the perfect laundry sorting space. Mark suggested adding a doggy shower for our beagles and it really was a stroke of genius. We also have a great big cupboard to store extra chairs, garden toys, BBQ equipment etc, I love that we can close the door on all that mess! The laundry room looks onto the forest which certainly helps to make folding and ironing less painful.
So, over onto the other side of the house again and this is dominated by our living room. When we moved in we actually thought that this would just be used as storage until we had the rest of the house sorted but as it turned out we had this room finished first, no idea why! We carried the wood effect tiles into this room and altered the plans to include an office for Mark off the back rather than having the two extra windows originally planned. This room has become our ‘good room’ in a way. We love that when we are hosting parties or play dates that all the chaos and fun is confined to one side of the house and we can just keep this room neat and ready to relax in. This is a BIG room. In fact, the entire downstairs of our previous house would fit into this one room perfectly. As such, I was determined to use the space well. I am not a fan of big open spaces and I wanted to make sure that the living room was cosy and inviting. I poured over the plans for months and settled on a U-Shape furniture arrangement around the stove. I knew I wanted two sofas and two single seater chairs. Our grey sofa from our previous house was the perfect height and length to ensure that the beautiful views out of the bay window weren’t obstructed. We also kept our recliner sofa which fit in nicely on one end and bought two super comfy grey armchairs from Woodgreen to complete the U Shape. Pinterest provided the inspiration for the storage unit to the right hand side. I love that we have plenty of boxes for all the bits and bobs that accumulate but also space to display little trinkets that we have picked up over the years. Every so often I rearrange the display and it is amazing just how much it changes the room! The stove keeps this room super cosy and it is the perfect spot for family movie nights.
Hubby and I adore New England and most of our inspiration for décor in this room came from places we had visited while we were there. Whites, blues and earthy wood! We wanted it to complement the fact that we live on the river without becoming too nautical and I do feel like we have achieved that. Our bay window hosts our Christmas Tree in December, but for the rest of the year it is our tranquil little reading corner. The light and the views in this space just appeal to all my senses and it is the perfect spot for that morning cup of coffee!
Work Life Balance
When we decided to adjust the plans to add an office it was for very practical reasons. In our last home, Marks office was outside and often it meant he was in and out multiple times during the evenings and isolated from the house during the day. Having the office off the living room means that he is never too far away from the action of family life but also can nip into his desk whenever needs be without having to brave the elements every time. In here is completely his domain, a tiny man cave I guess. Mark built the desk and shelves himself from old scaffolding that was actually used during the build of our house. The corner window looks out onto the river which is just beautiful, but often a bit too tempting during summer when there are boats flying up and down…some days work just has to be left behind!
Gosh I didn’t realise I had so much to say, I hope you enjoyed the first part of our home tour. Next time we will head upstairs and take a look around and maybe even pop out to the garden for me to share our plans for the outdoor space. Thank you so much for stopping by.