Inspiration can come from all over — even halfway across the world. Matthew Spade (@mat_buckets), who runs the lifestyle blog Buckets & Spades, lives in a small seaside town in Lancashire, England, and worked with West Elm UK to give his living room and dining room the mid-century modern-meets-California vibes he was after. He lives with his wife, Hollie, in a 1930s semi-detached traditional red brick house with all original features — though it feels anything but retro.
“We take a lot of inspiration from California living, and even though we are so far removed from that geographically,” says Mat. “It’s amazing what you can do to your space without it looking out of place or just ill-fitting. We have fun with it, play by our own tune and just see what happens!”
Read more from Mat and tour his home below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live and what you do.
I’m a full time content creator and blogger within the lifestyle industry, based in a small seaside town in Lancashire, North West England. I’ve been working in the fashion and lifestyle industry since I was studying at university, so around 10 years now. I started blogging about fashion, but as the years went by and life circumstances changed I have found myself more in the travel, interiors and lifestyle side of things. So I love to explore cafe culture, design and creating mini city guides on my social platforms and blog.
My wife, Hollie, also works in the creative industry. It’s teamwork, so I like to think people enjoy following us for the bigger picture + community aspect rather than just for nice-looking images. We both grew up where we now live. We have been in our house for just under three years now and we have done a heck of a lot of work on it! We both lived with our parents before moving in — we took the long road to saving for a deposit and mortgage instead of going down the renting route, so we could get the best start we could hope for.
We are both heavily inspired by the original mid-century movement; the design, the way of life, the typography, colors, the people who were associated with it, so that has had a big impact on our style. But then we also take inspiration from pop culture, Art Deco and Scandinavian design too.
How would you describe your personal style?
Always casual, kind of sporty, kind of utilitarian, but also with a focus on fabrics, the cut of garments and the color mixture. I like to have fun with my style, and experiment, but I never want to be the center of attention.
What were your main goals when designing your space?
We wanted to maintain a mid-century feel with the colors and shapes we used, create a space that would be ideal for entertaining, and finally, for it to flow from inside to outside without it feeling too different.
We actually haven’t done too much in the living room other than styling new with old, taking consideration to the natural light and trying to keep much as of the bigger pieces as neutral as possible — with accents of stuff that’s more colorful—like the book shelving, which we built ourselves.
Which room do you spend the most time in and why?
It would have to be our living room, which is where we have the majority of our West Elm pieces. The room leads on to our bi-folding doors and open-plan garden. It’s a proper entertainment, family, airy and welcoming room — and that’s where the bart cart is! It’s the room that gets the most amount of natural light, and combined with the furniture we have, it makes us just want to stay there for as long as possible. The Hamilton Sofa is probably the piece we use most, and it’s wearing in beautifully over time, but I’d say my favorite is the Mid-Century Bar Cart. We bought it with wedding vouchers we received from when we got married in Las Vegas, so it has plenty of amazing memories connected to it.
Did you face any challenges or setbacks when designing your home? How did you handle them?
Lots of challenges, as we have done most of the work ourselves on our house (converting the garage into a utility / workspace, building our back garden from the foundation up including our fence for example). But the key has been my father-in-law guiding us and helping us out as much as possible — we wouldn’t have been able to do it without him, the skills he has passed on to us have been invaluable.
If you had unlimited timeline and budget, what would you tackle next?
Oh man, tricky, but I think we would have someone help us out with designing, creating and landscaping a whole new front garden. We are about to start it ourselves, and it’s achievable, but it will take a long time to get right, especially the plant choices! Plants are a huge deal to us—we gotta get that right.