“How I transformed my Scottish tenement flat while protecting its period features”
Written by Megan Murray
Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.
Lifestyle blogger and presenter of Scotland’s Home of the Year, Kate Spiers, shows Stylist.co.uk how she re-designed her tenement three-bed flat while honouring its beautiful period features.
With nearly 300,000 followers poring over her paint colour choices and rattan furnishings, lifestyle blogger and Scotland’s Home Of The Year presenter, Kate Spiers is what you would call interiors Instagram royalty.
And, within 0.3 seconds of landing on her account it’s easy to see why. Kate’s style is universally aesthetically pleasing with a chic, calming and contemporary feel.
From her eucalyptus-green custom-made shelving in the living room which sits alongside a velvet, mustard sofa, to the tiled pink bathroom, she has experimented with trends while making the most of her home’s period features – something that’s incredibly important to her.
“We previously lived in a two bed Victorian tenement flat in Glasgow and had spent the last six years doing it up – the old buildings have lots of character but also require a lot of work, so we had put our heart and soul in to renovating the place,” says Kate of her already established history with renovating.
As Kate’s expertise and presence in the interiors industry began to grow, attracting a large social media following and a big audience for her TV show, she felt like it was the right time to start a new project.
Together with her husband, they bought a three-bed flat in another tenement building with intentions of renting it out. This idea quickly changed, though, when the couple realised how much potential it had and wanted the place all for themselves.
“It took about a year to fully renovate the new place – we ripped out the entire flat and started again, and we were just getting to the bulk of it when the pandemic hit,” she tells Stylist.co.uk.
“We finally moved in in July 2020 and since then we’ve made it feel like home! I love it, we’ve been bolder with our decisions this time around and I think it represents us so much more.
“Admittedly I got a bit of decision fatigue after spending so much time renovating, but I seem to have got the bug again so I’m currently working on a spare room and a hallway makeover which is very fun!”
What was the inspiration behind your renovation and decor?
“Since the building itself is Victorian, I do try and keep my interiors sympathetic to the era; that means restoring or adding back in the period details like cornicing, panelling and ceiling roses. As well as not going too modern with furnishings and furniture.
“It can be tricky to get the balance right, but I quite like a mid-century style so I feel like it works well with the style of the property. We stuck to colours that we felt were timeless, such as the impressive arched shelving in our living room which I designed and had painted a beautiful rich eucalyptus green!
“Tenement buildings, which are commonplace in Scottish cities, are absolutely beautiful, but they can be tricky to work with since they weren’t built with modern kitchens and bathrooms in mind. So, we’ve had to make the rooms work for the spaces we’ve created. It was so tough at times but I think we’ve done well. Our bathroom is tiny with a narrow galley layout, but I spent hours designing it and measuring every centimetre to make sure I could have both a wet room shower and a small bath – and I did it. My husband says it’s my biggest accomplishment!”
Any DIY hacks that we could learn from you?
“Jordan and I are the least DIY-inclined people you’ll come across, but I have some wonderful tradesmen who will bring my designs to life so I’m always impressed when they take my scribbles and make it happen.
“I think our rattan wardrobes are one of my favourite features – they’re so much warmer than plain white and give the room a calming 70s feel which I love. It’s definitely something you could recreate on a budget with an Ikea wardrobe system, for example.”
What has been the biggest challenge?
“Trying to get it done in lockdown! I had an entirely different kitchen in mind but just as we started to get going with the renovations, the company I wanted to use for the custom Ikea fronts closed down so we went with the cheapest Ikea fronts with plans to switch them out down the line.
“Now they’re in, though, I’ve made peace with them and I can’t imagine changing them – but it definitely made me feel a bit disheartened at the time. I think renovating is always an uphill struggle; it tends to be more expensive and a longer process than you allow for in the beginning.”
Which is your favourite room, and why?
“Our living room! It’s where we spend the most time because of our dreamy mustard sofa, and we had our green shelves custom built so it feels like such a special, personalised room.
“My husband has a shelf for his record collection and I have an entire arch for my books, so it feels like a combination of our interests in one happy space.”
Kate’s favourite interiors follows:
Sarah Sherman Samuel
This House 5000
Kate’s go-to homeware brands:
Images: Katie Spiers
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