Home of the month: St Albans Style
PUBLISHED: 17:59 22 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:53 20 February 2013
'I love my quirky home which is full of lucky finds and pre-loved items that I've restored myself.' Sasha and Stuart Martin updated their Sixties built home using subtle colours, vibrant wallpapers and well chosen pieces of French furniture...
A three-bedroom 1960s built semi-detached house in St Albans, Hertfordshire
WHO LIVES HERE?
Sasha Martin, who runs a hand painted furniture, homeware and gift company called Simply (07855 809 497 or visit stores.shop.ebay.co.uk/3simply) and her husband Stuart, a telecoms engineer and their three children Benjamin, 9, Madeline, 8 and Isabella, 5.
WHERE DO YOU SHOP?
I rarely shop on the high street but when I do its always at TK Maxx. I love to shop for secondhand furniture at Emmaus, which is a charity that has been set up to offer the homeless a home, work and the chance to rebuild their lives in a supportive environment. I also love to visit the Salvo Fair at Knebworth House and local auction houses and car boot sales.
WHATS BEEN YOUR BEST BUY?
We did a house clearance and I came across a beautiful kitchen dresser which is over 100 years old. I had it valued at a local auction and loved it too much to part with. In the girls bedroom I love the childs chair that I found in a skip! Its over 80 years old and I rescued it and repainted it.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR CREATING A HOME?
Dont follow fashion or other trends be brave and go with what inspires you. I always say anything goes, so dont always try and match up every item. Find a piece you like and fit things around it and where possible try to personalise pieces by changing knobs or door handles. I believe accessories are the key to successful decorating.
AT HOME WITH THE MARTINS
A stroke of luck and twist of fate brought Sasha Martin and her husband Stuart and their three children to their new Hertfordshire home. I remember soon after arriving home from hospital after having Madeline the house we were going for had just fallen through and we had to find something pretty fast, explains Sasha. A friend of mine approached me explaining that she was looking for a quick sale on this house and suggested we came to have a look around. Even though Id never been inside the house, I knew the location was perfect for us and closer to the best primary school in the area on the better side of town to where we were living previously.
Having viewed the house Sasha and Stuarts minds were made up and they quickly began negotiations. I liked the front door located on the side of the house and loved the fact that there was plenty of downstairs living space, says Sasha. Although it was a plain, quirky looking house, on the inside I knew it offered great potential to make it our own.
The family moved in September 2005 and didnt hesitate in putting their stamp on the property. I felt at home instantly and as though wed always lived here, says Sasha. We moved in that morning and had a take-away and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate that evening!
The house had previously been extended to include an extended bathroom and sky-lit bedroom at the rear so no structural work was required. Sasha and Stuart decided to begin work by personalising the childrens bedrooms at the top of the house and work their way downstairs. Although I do the majority of the decorating, Stuart does help out too as I cant bear going up ladders so hell paint all the bits I cant reach! laughs Sasha. The hardest room to decorate was the living and dining room as its an awkward space that took a lot of thinking about and one that got off to a bit of a DIY disaster! I insisted on painting the living room pink and experimented with lots of pinks until I found one I really loved. Having painted the entire room powder pink I then hated it! We lived with it for three days until I made Stuart repaint it! It looked more like a childs bedroom rather than a living room. Although I love pink I decided Id never paint a room one tone again.
Other changes downstairs involved a stud wall that Stuart put up between the living room and front playroom to create a large walk-in cupboard underneath the stairs to conceal all electric and technical items from view. The space is brilliant as it hides all the TV, computer link and audio wires from the children and is great for storing large items like the hoover.
Sashas love of vintage items and her passion for breathing life back into unwanted old furniture have gone from a hobby to a flourishing business that she runs from home with her mother Marion and sister Lisa. We go on a regular shopping sprees to France in search of beautiful pieces that I can rescue and restore and we often host open house sessions at my home inviting clients to see the furniture in situ, she adds. I hate to see anything thrown away and it breaks my heart to see how much unwanted furniture ends up in landfills and on skips. Its so rewarding to find something old and recycle and reuse it again and again. To be able to bring a piece of furniture back and transform it into a treasured item is so well worth doing. Even children are fond of antique style furniture, which never seems to go out of fashion!
Along with regular trips to France Sasha is inspired by Scandinavian style. I keep scrapbooks of ideas and picture boards of things I like using magazine cuttings, she adds. Im always adapting the house to suit our needs. Ive transformed the front sitting room into a playroom for the children as they need more space as they grow. Children come up with some great ideas, you might need to point them in the right direction but they can suggest some creative and sometimes helpful hints!
As well as redecorating the interior the Martin family have also revamped the exterior and garden. We removed the garage to the side of the house as I need ample space for large items of furniture to pass through our side gate for me to work on for the business, smiles Sasha. We also built a log cabin for the children and put decking on the terrace.
With well-chosen furniture pieces and a classic mix of colourful wallpapers and fabrics featured in every room, Sasha and Stuart are delighted at the finished results. My favourite room is the kitchen which is where everything happens. I can see the children playing in the garden, chat to friends, and I love to bake, Sasha reflects. I like the flow and feel of our house and the fact that when guests walk in they instantly feel at home which is always nice to hear! I love the ease of living here with nearby schools, shops and good neighbours. Were very happy its a cosy and much loved and well lived-in family home.
Find out more
Contact Sasha Martin at Simply
tel: 07855 809497; or visit stores.shop.ebay.co.uk/3simply
Contact Sasha Martin at Simply