Real home: super stylish bungalow

Interior designer Tessa Critchlow has succeeded in turning a bungalow in a village cul-de-sac into a stylish family home. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.

Sneered at, disregarded and generally seen as naff unless you're over 70, the bungalow is rarely the property of choice for those who want to make a style statement. Yet all it takes is vision and some chutzpah to turn a ordinary-looking bungalow into a beautiful, contemporary home.

Tessa Critchlow's single-storey house in the village of Boston Spa is a prime example.

She wasn't bowled over by the architecture but the location was perfect and the cul-de-sac made playing out safer for her two sons.

The square footage was also more than generous and the garden was large and private.

After viewing the house, interior designer Tessa was certain she could transform it to suit her family.

“We were keen to move to Boston Spa but it's really hard to find property for sale here as I think when people buy here they don't leave It's a lovely village with a great community, good transport links and good schools,” she says.

“Apart from new-builds, which we didn't want, there was very little to choose from so I ended up looking this 1980s bungalow.

“One of the key elements I look for in a home is flow and it ticked that box.”

Tessa was also impressed with the quality of the build and fit-out and with the enormous amount of space. The house has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a conservatory/garden room, family room, a sitting room and a kitchen. “I struggled to get my husband, Matt, to come to look at it because he didn't like the idea of living in a bungalow but in the end he agreed because it was the only property on the market that was the right size for us.”

After persuading him she could transform the decor to better suit their tastes, they bought the house and have no regrets about the decision.

Tessa has redesigned and redecorated every room since moving in two years ago and she was well qualified for the job. She ran her own marketing agency before following her heart and training as an interior designer.

“I'd done projects for myself and for friends and knew that's where my passion lay so I did a diploma in interior design,” she says.

Her business, Monkey and Pickle Interior Design, launched two years ago.

“I do everything from liaising with architects and contractors on the best use of space and layouts to lighting plans, project managing, sourcing products and producing mood boards for clients who just want some ideas,” adds Tessa.

She had a very clear idea of what she wanted to achieve with her own home. “The house was sound so what I did was mostly cosmetic. I wanted to set a mood for each room and I wanted to add colour,” she says.

“Feature pieces are placed throughout the rooms to draw focus and add wow factor. Adding character with colour, features and furniture is key for me.”

Tessa began with the kitchen. The oak cabinets were new but she painted them in a mix of Farrow & Ball's Downpipe and Stiffkey blue and added some zing with contemporary yellow chairs.

The pendant light above the island is from Loaf and the iridescent tiles over the hob are from Fired Earth.

The utility room had pale green walls and cupboards but is now in a mix of Farrow & Ball Stiffkey and wallpaper by Divine Savages, a small independent company.

“The wallpaper was an Instagram find and I just love the Art Deco style,” says Tessa.

“I'm always looking out for small independents and designer makers. I like to support them and my clients also like the fact that I can offer them something different.”

The family room is next to the kitchen and doubles as a playroom for the boys. A map mural on one wall looks cool and is educational and there's a matching lampshade from the Curtain Exchange in Boston Spa.

The large conservatory is now a garden room/dining room with an Art Deco-style dining table from Furniture Village.

“I'd fallen in love with an antique table that looked just like it but was £8,000 so I was really pleased to find this one for a fraction of the cost,” says Tessa, who adores the glamorous style of the 1920s.

The beige walls were painted in Little Greene's Basalt and one of them was treated to Matthew Williamson wallpaper with a palm leaves design.

The herringbone pattern carpet took quite some finding but was eventually sourced from Morgans Carpets in Harrogate.

“The children come in from the garden this way so I needed something hard-wearing that doesn't show the dirt,” says Tessa, who created a “grown-up” space in the front room.

Unlike the rest of the house, the room is quite dark so she played to that with a jewel-coloured scheme and plush velvet cushions and curtains.

What was a wall of cabinets was replaced by a chimney breast, a new flue and a pale grey wood-burning stove by Carron.

The corridors didn't escape a makeover. They now feature grey panelling to add character and standard radiators have been replaced with Victorian replicas. The entrance hall is now decorated with Fired Earth floor tiles.

The previous owners had converted the attached garage into a bedroom and ensuite, which Tessa decorated with Graduate wallpaper and a feather light from Vita Copenhagen.

The boys' rooms reflect their love of Lego and include a shelf that Tessa made from Lego boards and decoupage.

The fifth bedroom is now her study and is kitted out with fashionable West Elm furniture and a Crucial Trading striped carpet. It's where she plans other people's interiors.

“I am very lucky. I love what I do and I'm so glad I followed my passion,” she says.