Dramatic Monocrome

Renovating a period property was an ambitious task for Rona Grant, but ultimately a really rewarding journey.

From the moment she moved into this beautiful but, at the time, tired sandstone property, in February 2018, Rona Grant got stuck right into the renovation. ‘I knew exactly what I wanted to do on the first viewing with the estate agent,’ she reveals, ‘and that was to move the kitchen.’ This turned out to be a very satisfying process, as she knew she wanted to create a large kitchen in the generous back sitting-room, so she could take her time, because the original kitchen, which is now the garden room, was still in place. ‘We never had that agonising few days without a kitchen sink or a cooker,’ she reflects. The new kitchen is now her favourite room and is laid out exactly as she hoped. Ripping out the original kitchen and creating a sunny garden room was an obvious next step and she was able to install French doors, creating a pleasing connection between the inside and outside.

At the same time Rona had the whole house rewired and the floors sanded and varnished, plus she replaced several radiators with those of traditional column style. She also restored the original shutters and installed a log burner in the living room. All messy, noisy jobs and quite stressful as they lived in the house throughout. ‘The whole process was made bearable by our excellent builder. I have renovated and extended my two previous homes, so I had a great team to call on. Lockdown hit us soon after the major work was complete, so we felt very fortunate: we had a wonderful, spacious home where I could work from home and my daughters could study and a beautiful garden to escape to,’ Rona recalls.

Rona spent a lot of her spare time during lockdown decorating. ‘I painted every inch of this house during that two-year period, so I feel as if I know the house inside out: every nook and cranny.’ She knows she made a few mistakes on the way: ‘I love seeing dark dramatic interiors in magazines, and I initially painted the living room and the hall floor ‘Downpipe’ by Farrow & Ball. It looked great in the autumn and beautiful over Xmas but when spring came around, I realised I wanted my home to be lighter and fresher,’ she shares. ‘Painting over the living room walls was easy and I left the chimney breast wall dark, as an accent, but sanding off the floor paint in the hall was a big job and I rather regretted it,’ she rues. ‘I have used Egyptian Cotton, a cool off-white by Dulux, throughout the house on the walls.’

I also allow the occasional pop of mustard in my décor; it is the one colour I permit.

Rona seriously considered removing the wall between the new kitchen and living room to make the house more open but decided against it. ‘My last home was very open plan, this house is not, but I changed a couple of the doors into sliding doors, which is a real game changer if space is tight. Doors annoy me!’ she concludes. She finds the more traditional layout works better for the family now her daughters are older. ‘When your children are little, you need to keep an eye on them and they want to be with you all the time, now they are teenagers, they need their own space and want to be more independent, this house feels more grown up,’ she shares.

Once the décor was complete, Rona took great joy in hanging her art collection. She loves framed graphic prints in black & white, but she also likes to add colour with more abstract paintings by favourite, local artists. Although monochrome is her go-to colour scheme; ‘I find it very calming,’ she says. Rona adds warmth to her interior with natural materials, wood, baskets, and raffia accessories, plus her wonderful collection of plants. ‘I also allow the occasional pop of mustard in my décor; it is the one colour I permit!’ she laughs. Her favourite shops are Rockett St George and Abigail Ahern; ‘I get loads of inspiration from their beautiful websites, and I then look for bargains in TK Maxx and charity shops,’ she shares. ‘I often buy stars of all shapes and sizes, ideally in pops of gold, or with LED lights built in, they brighten up a dark corner beautifully.’

The house is saturated with character, both from the existing period details and Rona’s brilliant styling. ‘We love living here and it has been a very satisfying project to undertake,’ Rona shares. ‘Stirlingshire is a wonderful part of the world; you are surrounded by stunning countryside and the historic city of Stirling is on our doorstep, plus Edinburgh and Glasgow are both half an hour away on the train.’ 

Looking to the future, when her daughters are grown up, she might live abroad for a while. ‘I studied German and Italian at university and my grandfather lived in Sardinia, where I spent every summer as a child, so I definitely feel a pull,’ she says. 

Wherever she goes, Rona will create a unique and glamorous corner to call home, full of originality and interest, that is for sure!

Rona has set up a new account purely for her interiors journey @the.monochromehome

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