Real Home: This tired Victorian living room is now a nature-inspired haven

Giving a modern flair to a Victorian property is never an easy task, and when Veronica and Darren purchased their terraced house, it clearly needed a complete update. “It needed a complete repaint, but the upstairs bedrooms were in dire need of renovation,” says Veronica. “Six months later, after renovating three bedrooms and a bathroom, we were ready to start the living room.

The couple were on a tight budget and wanted to save money where possible, so they were willing to do the decorating and any other little chores on their own. “But there was some work that had to be done, which meant we had to bring in a variety of craftspeople,” says Veronica. This included a course in moisture protection, patching and installing new radiators. “One of our must-haves was a wood stove to replace the old gas fireplace, which was mostly decorative – it gave off little heat,” says Veronica. “We also replaced the worn windows and ordered shutters online, which we installed ourselves. ”

Most of the work done, Veronica turned to aesthetics and the couple had the rare pleasure of furnishing this room more or less from scratch. “Darren helped me choose the furniture, but he was happy to let me take the reins of the color palette,” says Veronica. “It’s a formula that worked – it approved of all of my design decisions.”

Read on for her top tips on creating a room that’s right for you, then check out our gallery of living room ideas for more inspiration.

Living room with parquet floor, white wall on the left and green wall on the right, fireplace painted black, round mirror, glass coffee table, gray sofa, patterned armchair and window blinds

Blanket, TK Maxx. Roller shutters, Direct shutters. Low table, John Lewis & Associates. Hanging lampshade, Do. Ground, Universal floorg. Wood stove, Charnwood stoves

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez)

1. Create a focal point

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The owners Veronica Garcia, interior photographer, her husband, Darren Jones, forensic photographer, and their cat Milo, a Scottish Fold
The property A three bedroom Edwardian terrace in Wimbledon, South West London
Project cost £ 8,000

“The existing gas fireplace was not practical enough, so we decided to remove it and have a more efficient wood stove installed. We love it and use it throughout the winter – it’s much more comfortable than central heating. Painting the mantel in a dark color provides a stunning backdrop, drawing your gaze to the mirror above, while the green walls of the alcoves provide a vibrant backdrop for our books.

Living room with white walls, gray fabric sofa, black geometric ceiling lamp and colorful artwork

Sofa, DFS. Wall lights, Habitat. Main work, rosebushes

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez)

2. Present the color

“Color plays a big role in my life, as well as in my work as a photographer, so I wanted to introduce vibrant elements. I mix patterns and colors to create a warmer atmosphere. I keep the larger pieces, like the sofa, more neutral, while the upholstery is easier to update and have fun. The artwork on the sofa is special to me and was the starting point for deciding on the furniture for the rest of the room.

Green alcove bookcase in the living room, with oversized monstera in golden planter with feet

painted walls Bodyguard and Saxon green, Farrow & ball. Wall mirror, Western elm. gold planter, Garsons Garden Center. TV stand, Swoon

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez)

3. Invest in power plants

“Plants bring a feeling of well-being and happiness to our home. Whether they are large statement plants or small shelf fillers, they introduce warmth and vitality into a space. I love them too because of the burst of vibrant color they offer – the variety of plant types you can choose from is endless, so you can buy some specifically to coordinate with your room arrangement. And knowing that they produce oxygen is just a plus.

Green painted alcoves with wooden shelves and desk, black painted fireplace and white and green patterned armchair

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez)

4. Add useful space on the shelves

“Shelves are the perfect solution for an alcove that would otherwise be wasted space. We wanted something sturdy that could support all of our favorite books, and scaffold planks were the perfect answer. Having books on display tells visitors something about us – our tastes and our sense of organization (note the color-coded thorns!) – and brings us joy as we remember vacations and times gone by. I’m not a minimalist, but I like order – everything has its place. ‘

Living room with black painted fireplace, trendy wall art and peach alcove painting

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez)

5. End with personal touches

“It’s important to have personal items in a home – items that you have found on your travels, inherited or just bought because there is something you liked about them. All of this makes a room feel warmer and more personal while being a constant reminder of happy times. They can also create talking points when you have visitors. The wooden bird is a famous Danish design by Kristian Vedel; we got it while on vacation in copenhagen.

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