It’s all too easy for a “family room” to skew heavily towards the younger members of the fam, becoming more of a functional or cluttered space than a stylish one. As kids grow up, though, it’s a great time to take another look at that room and decide where it should go. That’s what UK-based blogger and print artist Vickie Neave (also known as INPO: In No Particular Order) decided to do when she teamed up with the West Elm Design Crew in partnership with @westelmuk. She lives in Hertford, just north of London, with her husband Chris and her four children, Liberty (18), Millie (16), Tommy (14) and Oscar (10). Now that the kids are growing up, Vickie is thinking of launching an IGTV chat show in her family room and needed a fresh new space to do it.
“Interiors, for me, is something that evolves,” Vickie says. “For a while there we lost our way, restricted by finances or lost under a colorful array of children’s plastic clutter. Now the home works with us, for us.”
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See the before + after below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live and what you do.
I am Vickie, mother to four children (although I still find that strange now, as people envision me with four little ones and yet mine are mostly adult shape). Prior to the children I was a journalist but in the last couple of years I have a built a brand called In No Particular Order selling art prints. On Instagram I am @inpolife and generally get called INPO. I have somehow made a career of mucking about on Instagram. Although it is not really mucking about – its just my life – in no particular order. INPOx
Can you tell us a little bit about your home?
We live in Hertford just north of London. We moved here in 2000 and thought we would stay a couple of years, but three extensions and nearly 20 years later, I think we are pretty much here to stay. My husband Chris and I were both born in Hertford but our paths did not cross until our 20s. We moved to this house when we found out we were pregnant with our first, Liberty. The house is a couple of doors up from the school I went to and is such a nice area. Walk one way and you can reach the town, turn the other and you are in fields and fields for miles. We also have two train stations that go to London in 45 mins!
Our home is a semi-detached four bedroom home with mansard roof. It’s always a work in progress. That’s having four kids for you! We have extended three times to create space for our growing brood. When we moved in it was very dark so every change we have made has been about bringing in light. Many of the rooms could do with an update, but I am so pleased that they do not appear dated. Maybe worn is a better term! Realized I should be bigging it up. I bloody love our home but I always have a project on the go!
How would you describe your personal style?
I think even now I am just learning what my interior style is. For a very long time I had to think so practically — so much focus on storage and function. Now I seem to be able to re-claim my home, and although we still think practically — as you can see from the lounge room made over by the Design Crew, we can now introduce some style.
Style-wise I want every inch of my home to be used and loved. An architect once said something when we moved in and it stuck with me: Imagine if you had paint on your feet and left a mark everywhere your tread. Never have space in a family home that goes untouched. I loved that.
Bert, our 6-month-old miniature dachshund, is basically the baby of the house. He is adored by all who meet him. We lost our huge labradoodle Charlie who literally was the love of my life. I work from home so the dogs are like my work colleagues. The great thing is they don’t chat back, but they do listen. When Charlie passed we assumed we would not be able to replace him because it would be too hard. Turns out we did not last a week! But we went small this time. Real small. I constantly get asked to create his own Instagram, but the Diva in me will not allow it! He will get a bigger following than me and my pride wouldn’t be able to take it!
What were your three main goals when designing your space?
1. Firstly it was to reclaim the space. For so long we had given it over to what the house needed. A playroom, an office, a den for the PS4. The dumping ground for furniture that had no place elsewhere. It was time to re connect the room with the rest of the house.
2. I wanted a room that was a family room without screaming that purpose.
3. I wanted a room that connected us all.
What was it like working with the West Elm Design Crew?
If I could just write a dream I would but I expect you want more!! It was exciting. I loved their questions as we wandered the store. They were getting to know the family and taking notes. They connected with the room on another level! When they sent the two room plans the following week I could not believe my eyes. They were both me (I know I should say us!!). I do not know how they got it so right but I even from the cover page I was excited. I loved their suggestions for paint color and flooring. Every detail is considered. The purpose of this room had been lost for so long. They gave life back to the room and our house feels so much bigger!
Which room do you spend the most time in and why?
Until this room was made over I would say the kitchen/diner. We eat together every night so it was our room to connect. Busy lives can mean we are all passing each other high giving here and there and dinner times are special. Noisy and often out of control but it is time together. This new space has changed that. We are all drawn to it. It is exactly what was needed – a family room.
What are some of your favorite West Elm pieces and why?
My favorite piece may be the Mid-Century Buffet sideboard, which is the one item I questioned when the Design Crew suggested it. I was not sure it had enough presence — I thought it might be a bit plain. Yet here I am saying it is my favorite! The connection with the wood on the Tiered Bar Console, Mid-Century Wall Desk and Art Display Coffee Table are all united by this sideboard. It also houses all the ugly consoles and discs and games.
Also the coffee table is the first we have owned. How on earth have I managed without one before!?! To display special pieces and change the entire ooh of the room by adding different flowers or a stack of books makes me ridiculously happy.
If you had unlimited timeline and budget, what would you tackle next?
I would tackle the kitchen, which would surprise many. Our kitchen is 11 years old and is still a beautiful kitchen. It was built off plan though without ever having lived in the space. Without ever seen the light or worked out how we lived. I was pregnant with our fourth and tired so easily “guided” by a kitchen designer and although it is a fabulous kitchen it was very much HIS fabulous kitchen. I dreamt of a large island with bar stools and yet I ended up with a large U shape as he sold what he termed the defensive line having so many children. I followed his rules but now the children are older I can see my vision still. A kitchen all down one wall with my very large island. Still room for a table, still room for dancing. It would be mine though.
Saying that though, I SHOULD tackle the bathroom because the moment the lounge was finished I think the bathroom got jealous because everything is breaking!!!! That is practical though, and the kitchen has my heart. That would be next!
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