Interior stylist Kate Jacobs
I contrasted plain white Ikea units with a reclaimed wood worktop that has the feel of a well-used chopping board. I love white, but too much of it can be boring, so I like to use it with other neutrals,
like Farrow & Ball's Farrow's Cream on the walls. The range cooker, from Falcon was the most affordable I could find, and the rush mats are from Zara Home, chosen for their 70s vibe. The Squirrels print is by James Brown (generalpattern.net).
The kitchen tiles were a rare splurge and were made to order by Mosaic del Sur in Spain. Geometric patterns (which crop up all over the house) bring a touch of modernity to a period home.
The house is a Victorian end-of-terrace in Honor Oak, a leafy backwater of SE London. We moved in after six months of renovations, in May 2008 and have been slowly working on the interior since.
It was put together on a shoestring budget. I scour charity shops, skips and eBay (you get the best bargains by looking for really dire photos and by arranging collection yourself – these can deter fellow bidders). I was hoping to create a sense of relaxed serenity using a palette of neutral shades. It combines diverse influences including mid-century modern and Middle Eastern with a cosy 1970s craft vibe.
With much of this look, it was a case of necessity being the mother of invention. I would search for tables or chairs for under £15 on eBay and see what appealed, hence all my Middle Eastern-style furniture, which I've painted white. I don't consciously edit what goes into the house: the things I am drawn to tend to have colours and textures in common. I shuffle them around the house until I find the right spot for them.
When we couldn't afford a Moroccan-tiled chimney breast, my husband Darren Siveter, painted this one using a Stencil Library pattern. Farrow & Ball's Setting Plaster seemed a suitably intimate colour for the walls. The ceiling and table lights are from Habitat.
All the house's period features, including the fireplaces, had to be reinstated and I wanted these to be really ornate. I'm also into raw textures like the unvarnished floorboards and the woven jute wallpaper, from Urbane Living. Colour-wise, I like caramel shades because they seem both subtle and lavish. I try to stop them looking insipid by adding unexpected colours on top – like the acid yellow accessories in the lounge. I copied my parents' trad curtains with their blousy tops, but used decorators' dust sheets for fabric – I like the contrast between austerity and abundance. The ceiling light is from ID. The modernist-style sofa was from Next while the chesterfield was an eBay bargain. I found the battered Ercol table in the street.
To create an interesting backdrop in the guest bedroom, I had a fake stone wall, made from plaster, installed by set builders. I customised the day bed by painting its legs to look like bronze. The patterned and sequined cushions were from Sainsbury's – to some people, that's a bit of a taste taboo, but I think if you have confidence in your taste, then why not? My parents gave me this second-hand TV back in the 1980s, while the G Plan table was inherited from my husband's grandmother.
I used a Lincrusta wall-covering up to the dado rail in the guest bedroom, painted Farrow & Ball's Strong White. On the G Plan table, are another heirloom, a cluster of amber glass decanters. I've always made mood-boards and as I spend so much time in the kitchen with our toddler, Lily, the fridge seemed the right place for snaps, postcards and images. It started with a picture of Muriel Spark from the Guardian and grew.