At home with


Textile designer, Rachel Henderson, was delighted to be able to move into her grandmother’s much-loved seaside cottage in Dalgety Bay, Fife and even more delighted when it was chosen as a runner up on the recent BBC programme ‘Scotland’s Home of the Year’. She has transformed it on a miniscule budget into a rainbow-hued, sun-drenched family home.

WORDS: Alison Gibb | PHOTOGRAPHY: Douglas Gibb

At home with

ABOUT ME I am Rachel Henderson and I live here with my husband Andrew, 30, a digital skills training officer at Edinburgh University and our three-year-old daughter, Lottie.
MY HOME We moved in to our two-bedroom cottage in Dalgety Bay, Fife, in May 2017.
STYLE TIP Add as many warm tones and brights as you can for a cosy, homely feel in a modern house. New-build homes can feel very anonymous if you are not careful.

“We always loved visiting my grandma here, it is a very bright house with big windows and a great layout. The conservatory is such a nice addition in chilly Scotland: even on sunny days there can be a cold wind. When we discussed the possibility of us moving in when she had to move in to a home, we had mixed feelings as there are so many poignant memories obviously, but it was very much what she wanted. My brother lives nearby and his daughter is like a sister to our daughter, our parents also live nearby, it just felt meant to be. Everyone wanted to keep the house in the family, so we sold our Victorian flat in a nearby town and moved here.

By decorating throughout, we have retained the bones of the house: the light and spacious feel it enjoys, the clever layout, but we have totally changed the colour scheme so the house does feel like ours now.

Our aim was to alter it from a smart modern bungalow into a picturesque seaside cottage by adding character with colour and pattern.

We wanted to thoroughly personalise it. The first thing we did was paint the outside; it was a dramatic improvement, we were delighted. The harling is now brilliant white and the woodwork a soft blue-green teal.

We were very grateful that it was basically in perfectly sound condition when we moved in. Andrew works full time, I am self-employed and we have a three year old, so we did not want to undertake a radical renovation, giving this already-pretty house a fairly superficial face-lift was more than enough for us. The improvements we have made have all been cosmetic.

I buy as much as I can at craft fairs from artists and makers and as little as I can from well-known chains.

I was in no doubt about what I wanted to do; we got the keys in March and moved in in May. We did not hang about. We laid new flooring throughout and decorated straight away.

I know that the standard advice is to live in a house for a while and get to know the light and how you use it. I guess we knew that house well already; we had been frequent visitors over the years to Grandma! Plus, I am very headstrong as well, I know what I want and I just do it, as a trained designer I probably do have a head start.

I love bold, Mediterranean hues, I think warm tones help make a house more homely and cosy, layering patterns and colours is easier than you think, you do not have to use a neutral palette as many people believe. Vivid colours and patterns can make brilliant backdrops for art and collections.

I am a great believer in buying directly from artists and designers, it is great to support them and a guaranteed way to add individuality to your home, I buy as much as I can at craft fairs from artists and makers and as little as I can from well-known chains. I do find a lot of bargains on Amazon and Ebay, I shop around online a lot. Occasionally, I have to admit, I fall for something from a far-flung seller and it is not a bargain, once you count in the shipping! But I also believe that the odd extravagant purchase can really lift a house from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

I made mood boards for every room. I used Photoshop and put them together on the computer. I chose five or six colours for every room and sourced products to add in, cutting and pasting them on. You could do this just as easily, using paper and card and cutting furniture and accessories out from magazines, though, you do not need to be a computer whizz, either approach is equally useful. I swear by this method, it is a great way to experiment with your décor without making expensive or time-consuming mistakes.

Our aim was to alter it from a smart modern bungalow into a picturesque seaside cottage by adding character with colour and pattern.

Visitors love what we have done although I do understand it is not for everyone, one of my friends asked how we slept at night with all the colour and pattern going on! I think I just find rich colours and vibrant patterns soothing. I feel enveloped by their warmth.

I know my grandma was delighted knowing that we were moving in. We were very close, she loved my design work and was always a great champion of any projects I was involved in, I have published a series of books about crafts and my main job is designing pieces for them. My next title is due out in May and is about Bohemian-inspired crafted home wares made from felt and fabric. I wrote it with my friend Jayne Emerson, I have some of her artwork around the house.

I have always taught as well and I run craft workshops from my nearby studio and I work in a local hospice doing art and craft with the patients. Grandma loved being a great-grandmother when Lottie was born and she got on brilliantly with my husband, I am not sure what she would have made of the décor, but we definitely had her blessing moving in and making her house our home.”

Rachel can be contacted for interiors advice through her website

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