By Laura Michlek
Sometimes it can seem that taking the easy path in life is the best way to go. Who needs additional stress when you are already juggling family life, work life and all the additional balls that it throws at you?
Your home should be a place where you can relax, be happy and feel safe. Taking the easy route may seem like the best option but if your home is no longer evoking that sense of calm or pride, then maybe it’s time for a change.
One person who has been pushing the boundaries when it comes to creating that ‘idyllic’ home is Nicola Hetherington.
Working in the property industry for a career that has spanned over 20 years, Nicola’s passion for interiors is undoubted. Describing her interior style as ‘classic, timeless and always neutral’, it almost seems effortless, but from first-hand experience I know that is not the case.
Rewind to 2004 and Nicola purchased the perfect period property in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow, which was soon to be filled with her and husband Iain’s four children and their two Cockapoos, Rosie and Teddy.
From the surface it had everything they needed: plenty of space, grandeur and bags of potential. With a little hard graft, a new kitchen, bathroom, shower room, oh, and some all-important heating, it would be a home where many happy memories were made.
“Yes, we lived in the house happily for many years but I always dreamed of knocking down the original kitchen at the back of the house and extending out four metres, knocking through the two rooms at the back of the house to create one big open plan space.
“The extension was a fairly straight forward plan, 4m out and 7m wide. I added the vaulted ceiling to make the space look bigger and opened up the back of the house to make one large space. It was an exciting moment seeing the space open up!”
With tremendous Velux windows carefully encompassed into the vaulted ceiling, statement black patio doors and a carefully designed glazed gable ended triangle, the space doesn’t only incorporate open plan living from the floor space but also creates a vastness from above, bringing the outside in. I can feel the jealousy rippling through my body. So, how much involvement did Nicola have when developing the extension?
“I was heavily involved in all aspects of the extension. The builders left us with an empty shell to save money, ready to paint ourselves. We got to work straight away painting, panelling and laying the wooden herringbone flooring. Having never laid flooring before it was challenging. We also added cornicing to the original area of the open plan space and had a log burner fitted. This changed the space completely and instantly added beautiful features. I would always recommend adding cornice to a room, it makes such a difference to a space.”
We can see that undoubtedly!
We spoke briefly of Nicola’s kitchen and where her design inspiration came from.
“I used Pinterest and Instagram for my inspiration and kitchen ideas. I planned my whole extension around a Humphrey Munson kitchen (bespoke design and manufacturer of kitchens). The dream was an inframe kitchen but we could never have afforded a Humphrey Munson kitchen. I studied every detail of their kitchens and planned my own kitchen using a more cost effective kitchen company. My budget was tight, so I bought everything separately rather than using a kitchen company to supply worktops, handles, appliances etc.”
Designing a kitchen can sometimes seem like an endless task, especially when you’re not sure where to start. As a kitchen designer I know how daunting it can be for people. Choosing a style and colour are actually the easy part, the finishing touches such as the handles and worktops can really make a vision come to life. I asked if there were any ‘must-have’ items within her kitchen that she couldn’t live without?
“My essential buys are my Quooker hot water tap, and a butler’s cupboard. It really adds that high-end look, even if you only have a 600mm space, go for it. My only regret is not putting down underfloor heating in the extension, so I’d say that is something that you might want to consider. Apart from that I still love the space as much as I did three years ago.”
She must have picked up some tips and tricks when designing her kitchen so I asked if there are any she’d care to share with our readers.
“When it comes to planning a kitchen my advice would be to try DIY Kitchens or Howdens if you would like an inframe kitchen. Rocca Stone in Hillington, Glasgow are great if you are looking for Quartz worktops. It’s best to shop around and compare prices as you can always save money. If you don’t have the budget to extend, I would recommend removing walls to create an open plan space in kitchens. Lastly when planning an extension try to have your builder include for the work in your garden, paths and patio etc. It’s easy to concentrate on the inside and forget about how an extension affects your garden.”
What great tips! I’m guessing when it comes to planning spaces like this, the garden can be somewhat of an afterthought, so it’s a great idea to incorporate it into your initial plans.
“I know this is one step we wished we’d initially budgeted for but unfortunately we just didn’t have any leftover money when it came to working on the extension.”
Now that Nicola’s extension and kitchen are complete it has finally been time to tackle the garden. A huge amount of work was required to level over 60 square metres and lay new porcelain slabs, along with artificial grass (which she was very excited about as cutting the grass was one of her jobs). You’ll need to follow her Instagram account @nb.property to see the end results as she plans on adding all of the finishing touches this summer.
Stepping back inside and wondering through the rest of Nicola’s home it is clear to see that her definitive style is echoed in every room. It has a country-esque feel to it that is homely, welcoming and really makes a statement. Nicola’s love for period properties really shines through, having not only carefully restored it but also enhanced it with features such as her panelled walls.
“My greatest achievement so far has to be my hallway panelling, it was the most challenging project in my home that I carried out all on my own. Cutting the angles on the stairs was particularly tough, I’ve never been so relieved to finish a job!
“I am also happy with my Ikea Pax wardrobe hack. Again I built this on my own. This is where you take Ikea Pax wardrobes and make a base for them to make them look bespoke, adding in plinths and cornice.”
When there is no budget to get the trades in, Nicola is happy to tackle any project herself.
“YouTube becomes a great source of help! I have learned many new skills in the last few years. I love to challenge myself and I always have a project on the go. I am also a keen up-cycler, I love to buy old furniture and restore it.”
In fact, there’s not a vase, lamp or even an olive tree that is safe in Nicola’s home. If it isn’t broken but the colours or style are no longer working for her then Nicola is on hand with a paint brush and her rub ‘n buff (metallic paint) to perform a simple yet effective up-cycle. What’s even better is she also creates simple ‘How To’ videos on her Instagram page so that people can also try it at home!
“I love to inspire others to give things a go themselves.”
We spoke a little of where Nicola gets her styling inspiration from.
“Anytime I see a beautiful space on Instagram I save it, I have so much inspiration in my saves that as soon as it comes to styling all I have to do is have a quick look and there is always something to inspire me.
“My favourite places for interior styling have to be TK Maxx, M&S, The White Company, and Zara. Hudson Home is also a favourite. I also spend lots of time in charity shops searching for amazing finds, especially art. I’m a bargain hunter and love to share my great buys on Instagram stories. I am passionate about creating a high-end look on a small budget by shopping smart.”
We leave Nicola in her favourite spot – the kitchen – eagerly waiting to see her next project or bargain find. We’re sure it will be as amazing as the rest of her home. It definitely pays off to take the more challenging route in life as Nicola has clearly proven.