Keeping it Simple
PUBLISHED: 13:09 14 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:01 20 February 2013
As a young family strapped for cash, blitzing their run-down home with white paint seemed like the best solution. Now Hilary Sinott's white walls and glass furniture give her house a very distinctive look.
But, when Hilary Sinott first saw her future home, just five minutes from Clifton in the heart of Bristol, she was just a teenager and never thought that one day she would be living there. It was at the end of a tree-lined road and it stood out because it was a newly built split-level detached house with a painted white exterior.
"I first saw the house at dusk, when all the lights were on, and it seemed just so full of life that I never forgot it," she says.
However, the next time she saw it was some 17 years later when she and her husband, John, were looking for a house to buy. "I could hardly believe it was the same place," she says. "It was so dirty you couldn't see anything of the white render on the exterior and it looked so sorry for itself I felt we had to buy it." That was 25 years ago.
It also had a lot of the features the couple were looking for, and with four bedrooms and two bathrooms it had the space they needed for their two little boys, Jonathan (now 26) and Cymon (now 36).
"We were also fairly hard-up but we were able to buy the house for quite a reasonable price because of its condition," says Hilary. "It was structurally sound but needed a lot of work, and as we had no money the best thing we could do was blitz every room with white paint - my favourite colour in the home." Luckily Hilary's father, who had just retired, was a big help with the decorating and he and Hilary did it together.
"I first saw the house at dusk, when all the lights were on, and it seemed just so full of life that I never forgot it"
The first thing the couple did was to change the central heating system from warm-air to gas-fired. Then they removed a plasterboard wall between the galley kitchen and small dining room, to turn the room into one big kitchen/diner.
"We bought an Allmilmo kitchen, which was an expensive brand in its day, and it certainly lasted us as it was only two years ago that we changed it for a new one," says Hilary. "It did look a bit jaded by then, so it's refreshing to come down in the morning and see our new one." This was supplied and fitted by Boulevard Kitchens of Henleaze.
Hilary seized the chance to completely redesign the layout of the kitchen, re-siting the breakfast bar to separate the living area from the working part. As they are very keen on neutral colours their new units are a very pale grey laminate, with matching grey laminate worktops and stainless steel handles. The sink is black and made of silgranit (a composite made using 80% granite).
"I love my sink! It has a sliding opaque glass top which pulls across to conceal the washing up and any rubbish that might be loitering in there should anyone be visiting," says Hilary.
The couple also love the House of Fraser lighting system in the kitchen/diner. "It's rather unusual as each downlighter consists of eight halogen spotlights housed in a slab of glass and suspended from the ceiling on yacht wire. They can be adjusted on a dimmer switch, and one hangs over the island, one over the dining table, and so on."
At the same time the Sinotts renewed the furniture in the kitchen and they now have an extending glass table which can seat up to eight, and three gas-lift stools beside the breakfast bar.
They also changed the downstairs cloakroom at the same time - this was its third makeover. When they first saw it there was a yellow basin and loo; both big items in a rather tiny room. However, Hilary knew how to make the room look bigger and the sanitaryware smaller.
First she chose a small, oblong basin for the corner and a wall-mounted loo. There was also a broom cupboard in here but she took away its top and bottom doors and replaced them with one long, narrow door. The final touch was to install a Flabeg 'Galaxy' mirror that she spotted in Bathroom Solutions.
"I suppose you'd describe it as a mirror which is fitted with fairy lights to create an optical illusion - in this case to make the room seem twice as long. It seems to have worked, as it was exactly what Jonathan said when he saw it for the first time," says Hilary.
Their new kitchen units are a very pale grey laminate as they are very keen on neutral colours
Over the past 25 years the couple have done a great deal to their house, including a small extension 15 years ago, which involved moving the front door from the side of the house to the front. Luckily this didn't need planning permission and the result was a longer hall and a new utility room. They also put down a new ceramic floor but chose not to have tiles in the kitchen as they found them rather noisy. The new uPVC front door was glazed to let in light and they added a small window for the same reason. They also removed a low wall (topped by a decaying fence) which bounded their garden and built a high wall of white render.
Some time later they changed the pink en-suite bathroom; a long and narrow room which then had a traditional pedestal basin, a shower, loo, bidet and a very long bath. They took them all out and replaced them with a white suite, comprising a corner Jacuzzi bath, a bidet, basin and wall-hung loo.
Then, 10 years ago, they replaced all the original 'Crittal' steel windows for new ones of uPVC (they have 24 in all plus two sets of French windows) and added decking outside the sun lounge at the rear of the house.
"I love my house because it's light, bright and, at the same time, it's my sanctuary. It holds many happy memories of my family over the years," concludes Hilary. BY VICTORIA JENKINS. PHOTOS BY WILLOUGHBY ANDREWS